6. 2009 Western Conference Semifinals-Game 2
By the time the Houston Rockets faced off against Kobe in the 2009 Western Conference Semifinals, they had become well acquainted with the Black Mamba. They had been defeated by him in both of the previous playoff matchups against his Lakers, and had seen his full arsenal far too often.
In fact, during that particular season, Kobe’s Lakers won all four regular season games against the Rockets, and he averaged 28.3 points per game on 53 percent from the floor and a scorching 53.3 percent from deep, which is the primary reason why the Lakers won all four matchups.
The Rockets landed the fifth seed in the Western Conference as they went 53-29 while Kobe’s Lakers had the top seed in the West after going 65-17. The Rockets defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in six games of the opening round and the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz within five games of the opening round.
In spite of playing on the road, the Houston Rockets were able to steal Game 1 from the Lakers, in spite of a 32 point performance by Kobe, which surely had him fueled for revenge in Game 2.
Kobe did just that, as he scored more points than any of his other playoff games against the Rockets. Kobe had 40 points on 59.3 percent and only missed one 3-pointer all game, which gave him a 66.7 percent 3-point percentage. On top of that, Kobe went 6-of-7 from the charity stripe and nabbed six rebounds as well.
Although this was just another day at the office for the Black Mamba, it’s mind boggling that he was able to do this while Shane Battier was draped all over him. Battier decided to employ a unique defensive tactic, as he decided to keep a hand in Kobe’s face as opposed to trying to block his shots, which isn’t surprising for the cerebral Battier.
This would have likely worked on almost anyone else, but it didn’t stop Kobe, who had the innate ability to make shots with the highest degree of difficulty. Battier ended up with four fouls and the Rockets were blown out 111-98, in spite of having two other elite defenders such as Chuck Hayes and Metta World Peace.
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