HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — With so much attention being heaped on LeBron James‘ historic 30-point, 60-percent six-game run, let’s go the other direction and put Kobe Bryant‘s strange, four-point game Tuesday night into proper historic perspective within his own amazing career.
First off, those four points fell 77 shy of his career-high of 81 that he put up against Toronto in 2007, and 58 shy of what he did to the Mavericks in just three quarters in 2006.
In Tuesday’s fortunate win against the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar didn’t even put up a shot until the 7:30 mark of the third quarter. He scored his first basket with just 2:10 left in the game, and it came off an offensive rebound.
It was his first single-digit scoring game this season, one in which he’s scored 30 points or more 21 times, and completed his own 10-game run of 30 points or more during December.
What was Kobe’s reaction to his lowest single-game point total since he scored two points — but played just six minutes — against Cleveland on Jan. 13, 2005?
“I thought it was great, actually,” Bryant told reporters. “Obviously, scoring four points, going 1-for-8, that’s not necessarily a recipe for success. … But it’s not about us as individuals. It’s about what we can do to help the team.”
This was his lowest point total while playing a full game since his second season when he scored two points in a March 1998 game against Utah.
The closest Kobe had come to a single-digit game before this one was nearly one year ago. On Feb. 14, 2012, he finished with 10 points in 34 minutes against Atlanta.
When was the last time Kobe scored in single digits? Go back to Dec. 17, 2010 against Philadelphia when he had nine points on 3-for-11 shooting in 36 minutes.
So, just how many times in 1,214 career games spanning 17 seasons has Kobe scored in single figures? The infrequency is mind-boggling.
To properly put this in perspective, let’s get his first two seasons out of the way. Kobe started just seven of 150 games in those seasons and averaged 15.5 minutes as a rookie and 26.0 minutes as a sophomore. In those two seasons, he had 60 single-digit scoring games with 46 coming as a rook in 1996-97.
Over the next 15 seasons — 1,064 games through Tuesday night — Kobe has finished in single digits 14 times. And even then, that number is a bit skewed.
In four of those instances, Kobe logged less than 15 minutes. Three of his 14 single-digit games came during the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season, Kobe’s third season in the league and first as a starter.
So, if you remove his first two seasons and the four games he played less than 15 minutes — go ahead and keep the lockout season games of 1998-99 in there — Kobe has scored in single figures 10 times in 1,060 games, or less than 1 percent of the games he’s played.
As for Tuesday night’s four-point effort? It’s probably fair to cut him some slack.
Kobe’s single-digit games over his last 15 seasons:
|Feb. 2, 2012||4||Suns|
|Dec. 17, 2010||9||Sixers|
|Feb. 10, 2010||5||Bobcats|
|Feb. 8, 2008||6||Nets|
|Jan. 5, 2007||8||Nuggets|
|Jan. 13, 2005*||2||Cavs|
|April 3, 2005**||9||Grizzlies|
|March 5, 2004***||0||Sonics|
|April 11, 2004||8||Kings|
|April 1, 2001****||0||Knicks|
|March 16, 2000||7||Wizards|
|Feb. 25, 1999||7||Clippers|
|March 10, 1999||9||Clippers|
|April 26, 1999||9||Rockets|
* Played six minutes
** Played 14 minutes
*** Played one minute
**** Played 11 minutes