Ruben Patterson has never had a better opportunity to live up to his self-proclaimed nickname as the “Kobe Stopper.”
Bryant had 45 points Monday as Los Angeles beat Indiana 96-90, making him the first player to score at least that many in four consecutive games since November 1964.
The last player to score at least 45 or more points in four consecutive games was Wilt Chamberlain, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I am just blessed. I have just been blessed to be able to play this game. I am just very fortunate,” said Bryant, who leads the NBA with 34.1 points a game.
Regarding his accomplishments, Bryant said: “I try not to think about it too much. I just try to stay in the moment as much as possible. With that being said, I still appreciate greatness and feel very blessed, very fortunate, of what’s going on. I am very lucky.”
Bryant had 45 points on Dec. 28 against Memphis, 48 last Friday against Philadelphia, and 50 on Saturday against the Clippers. He sat out against Utah on Jan. 1-3 after being suspended for two games by the league for elbowing Memphis’ Mike Miller in the Dec. 28 loss to the Grizzlies.
“I think that it’s remarkable,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant’s recent run. “Scoring is a big feature in our game. It’s not the whole story, but it’s a major part of what we do. I’m just hoping he can maintain it without doing anything detrimental to himself physically.”
Bryant scored 17 points in the fourth quarter against the Pacers, reaching 45 by making two free throws with 9.6 seconds left. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists, and become the first player with at least 45 in three consecutive contests since Michael Jordan accomplished the feat in 1990.
“Right now, he’s got it cookin’,” Lakers forward Lamar Odom said.
Patterson will be looking to shut down Bryant, his Los Angeles teammate when he was a rookie in 1998-99. The duo used to face off in practice, and Patterson said he was motivated to play hard because Bryant was arrogant.
After the Lakers decided to let Patterson go after one season, he declared himself the “Kobe Stopper.”
“Every time he sees me, he fears me,” Patterson said.
The Blazers tied their season-high losing streak at six games with a 118-89 loss to Miami on Sunday in the opener of an eight-game homestand. Portland was outrebounded 49-35 by the Heat and allowed 62 points in the paint and 30 fast-breaks points.
“It was terrible,” said Patterson, who had a team-high 16 points. “They did whatever they wanted to do.”