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On this date: A busy Kobe Bryant puts together master class vs. Spurs

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Throughout the 2003-04 NBA season, Kobe Bryant was not only fighting to help the Los Angeles Lakers regain the championship, but also to earn his freedom in a court of law.

On several occasions that season, he appeared in a Colorado courtroom as part of his defense against legal charges and then took the basketball court as part of the Purple and Gold.

Each time, he did very well, but on May 11, 2004, Bryant outdid himself, having a day that was remarkable even by his standards.

He woke up before dawn after getting hardly any sleep, spent much of the day in court for a pretrial hearing and then took a private jet back to Los Angeles. He arrived just two hours before the tip for Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals versus the San Antonio Spurs.

As they did the year before, the Lakers lost the first two games in Texas and looked to be done. Then they took what seemed at the time to be a concession win in Game 3.

Despite being physically and emotionally exhausted, Bryant summoned his iron-clad will and put together a master class.

He scored 18 first-half points. But with the Lakers trailing by 10 at halftime, he turned it up big time in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.

Bryant had 15 points in the final frame, capping a 42-point performance on 15-of-27 shooting. He had five assists, three steals and no turnovers to lead L.A. to a gutsy 98-90 win.

In retrospect, it was the turning point of the postseason for the Lakers, who took the series in six and advanced to the Western Conference finals against Minnesota.

Although they lost the championship to the Detroit Pistons, more glory was ahead for Bryant and the Lakers.

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