NBA Power Ranking Week 15: Kobe Bryant’s Best Performance Against Every Team

Apr 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) acknowledges the crowd as he walks off the court at the end of the final game of his career at Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz 101-96. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The sports world was shocked on Sunday by the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s death. In honor of his passing, this power ranking will be focused on his best performance against every team.   

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
    Record: 40-6
    Previous: 1

With the Lakers sitting atop the West with a 20-3 record, Bryant hit one of the most clutch shots of his career against Milwaukee. Down by one with 5.4 seconds left, Bryant backed down Raja Bell and hit a fadeaway buzzer-beater to give him 39 points and his team the win.  

Best of Kobe: December 16, 2009

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
    Record: 36-10
    Previous: 2

Mike Breen’s tribute (among others) to Kobe Bryant sums up how most must be feeling around the NBA right now. 

  1. Utah Jazz
    Record: 32-13
    Previous: 3

With the Lakers eliminated and everyone watching, Kobe gave us one final vintage performance by dropping 60 on the Jazz in his last game. In a perfect send-off, Kobe then spoke to the crowd and left us with the legendary line of “Mamba out.”  

Best of Kobe: His Finale

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
    Record: 33-14
    Previous: 4

The 2005-06 season was an underwhelming one for the Lakers, who were still recovering from losing Shaq but hadn’t acquired Pau Gasol yet. However, during this performance against the Clippers, Kobe carried the team on his back by dropping 50 points in a three-point victory.  

Best of Kobe: January 7, 2006 

  1. Denver Nuggets
    Record: 32-14
    Previous: 5

During the first round of the playoffs in 2008, the Lakers swept young Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. Kobe had one of the best performances of his career in game two, dropping 49 points, the second-highest playoff total of his career. 

Best of Kobe: 2008 First Round Game 2

  1. Toronto Raptors
    Record: 32-14
    Previous: 8 

In one of the greatest performances ever, Kobe exploded on Jan. 22, 2006, by scoring 81 points, 55 of which came in the second half, to beat the Toronto Raptors. Even James Harden, who regularly puts up 50 point games, will have a tough time reaching that mark.  

Best of Kobe: Kobe scores 81 

  1. Miami Heat
    Record: 31-14
    Previous: 6

Off to a hot 14-3 start to the season, Kobe would down Dwyane Wade and the Heat with an extremely tough buzzer-beating shot over multiple defenders. 

Best of Kobe: December 4, 2009

  1. Boston Celtics
    Record: 30-15
    Previous: 7

The Celtics would go on to win the 2008 NBA Finals in six games. However, Game 3 was all about Kobe, who put up 36 points in a close win to prevent his team from going down 3-0 in the series. 

Best of Kobe: 2008 Finals Game 3

  1. Philadelphia 76ers
    Record: 30-17
    Previous: 10

In 2001, Kobe would win his second of five championships, going against Allen Iverson and the 76ers. In Game 2, he put the team on his back, scoring 31 points and taking over late to prevent his team from falling behind 2-0 in the series.    

Best of Kobe: 2001 Finals Game 2 

  1. Indiana Pacers
    Record: 30-17
    Previous: 12

Kobe earned his first ring back in 2000 when the Lakers defeated a Pacers team led by Jalen Rose and an aging Reggie Miller. During Game 3, Kobe had his best game of the series, scoring 28 points in a two-point win.  

Best of Kobe: 2000 Finals Game 3

  1. Dallas Mavericks
    Record: 28-17
    Previous: 9

Kobe would have the third-highest total of his career in this game as he scored 62 points to beat Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. Oh, and he didn’t play in the fourth quarter of that game. 

Best of Kobe: December 20, 2005

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
    Record: 28-19
    Previous: 13

This series would best be remembered for putting OKC’s trio of Durant-Westbrook-Harden on the map. However, Kobe took over in game two by scoring 39 points. The Lakers would eventually go on to beat the Celtics in the Finals that season. 

Best of Kobe: 2010 First round Game 2

  1. Houston Rockets
    Record: 28-17
    Previous: 11

Facing Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, Kobe would lead his team to a series win against the Rockets in 2009. He scored 40 points in Game 2 of that series and the Lakers would eventually beat Orlando in the Finals that season. 

Best of Kobe: 2009 Second Round Game 2

  1. Memphis Grizzlies
    Record: 22-24
    Previous: 14

Back in March of 2007, Kobe had an incredible stretch where he scored 50-plus in four consecutive games. During this game against Memphis, he went off, scoring a whopping 60 points. 

Best of Kobe: March 22, 2007

  1. New Orleans Pelicans
    Record: 18-29
    Previous: 17

One night after scoring 60 against Memphis, Kobe continued his dominance by scoring 50 points in a win against the New Orleans Hornets. 

Best of Kobe: March 23, 2007

  1. Orlando Magic
    Record: 21-26
    Previous: 16

In 2009, Dwight Howard carried his team on his back to face Kobe in the NBA Finals. However, Bryant made it clear right from the start who was king as he scored 40 in a game one win. 

Best of Kobe: 2009 Finals Game 1

  1. Portland Trail Blazers
    Record: 20-27
    Previous: 18

This was a tough choice since Kobe also scored 65 against Portland in a game in 2006. However, his game-tying shot in this 2004 game is one of my favorite and toughest shots of all time. He then hit a rainbow three at the buzzer to down Portland in overtime of that game. 

Best of Kobe: April 14, 2004

  1. San Antonio Spurs
    Record: 20-25
    Previous: 15

During Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in 2001, Kobe would down the Spurs by putting up 45 points. The Lakers would go on to sweep the Spurs and win the Finals that season.  

Best of Kobe: WCF 2001 Game 1

  1. Brooklyn Nets
    Record: 19-26
    Previous: 20

In 2002, Kobe and the Lakers won their third consecutive title by beating the Brooklyn Nets. Bryant’s best performance came in game three when he scored 36 points in a three-point win.   

Best of Kobe: 2002 Finals Game 3 

  1. Chicago Bulls
    Record: 18-30
    Previous: 23

Despite the loss, Kobe played great during a 2005 game against the Bulls as he dropped 43 points. 

Best of Kobe: November 20, 2005

  1. Phoenix Suns
    Record: 19-27
    Previous: 19

While he scored more in other matchups against Phoenix, this playoff shot would go down as one of the most iconic of his career. The Lakers would go on to blow a 3-1 lead in that series. 

Best of Kobe: 2006 First Round Game 4

  1. Detroit Pistons
    Record: 17-30
    Previous: 22

The Lakers were defeated by Chauncey Billups and the Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals. However, their lone win in that series was due in large part to Kobe, who scored 33 points in their Game 2 victory. 

Best of Kobe: 2004 Finals Game 2 

  1. Washington Wizards
    Record: 15-30
    Previous: 21

In the last game between Kobe and Michael Jordan, Bryant stole the show by scoring 55 points in a win over the Wizards. 

Best of Kobe: March 28, 2003

  1. Sacramento Kings
    Record: 16-29
    Previous: 26

While it seems tough to believe, there was once a legitimate rivalry between the Lakers and the Kings. However, Kobe ended this 2001 series by scoring 48 points on just 29 shots to beat Sacramento. 

Best of Kobe: Second Round 2001 Game 4

  1. Charlotte Hornets
    Record: 15-31
    Previous: 25

When they were still known as the Bobcats, Charlotte would beat the Lakers in this 2006 game, despite Kobe’s 58 points. 

Best of Kobe: December 29, 2006

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves
    Record: 15-31
    Previous: 24

Kobe would take down Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves in this game by scoring 50 points. He followed up this performance with 60 the next game against Memphis and 50 the following night against New Orleans. 

Best of Kobe: March 18, 2007 

  1. New York Knicks
    Record: 13-34
    Previous: 27 

With Andrew Bynum out due to a knee injury, the Lakers needed Kobe to carry the team. He did just that by scoring 61 points en route to the win. 

Best of Kobe: February 2, 2009

  1. Atlanta Hawks
    Record: 12-35
    Previous: 29

Coming into the season with high expectations, Kobe led his team to this early-season win over the Hawks. His 41 points were enough to defeat a team led by Joe Johnson and a young Al Horford. 

Best of Kobe: November 1, 2009

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
    Record: 12-34
    Previous: 28

With Shaquille O’Neal nursing a foot injury, the Lakers needed Kobe to pick up the load in this matchup with Cleveland. He did just that as he scored 47 points in a close win over Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the Cavaliers. 

Best of Kobe: January 30, 2001 

  1. Golden State Warriors
    Record: 10-37
    Previous: 30

The ultimate mamba mentality moment came as Kobe went down with a torn Achilles, yet remained in the game to hit his free throws. While he was never the same after the injury, this moment showed how much passion Bryant had for the game. 

Best of Kobe: April 12, 2013

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