Kobe Bryant’s top 100 games: No. 41

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After winning his first NBA championship in 2000, Kobe Bryant was determined to prove that he was much more than a “sidekick” for Shaquille O’Neal.

He came out early in the 2000-01 season in attack mode, although he struggled with his shooting percentages at times.

But after a few weeks, he would start to figure out how to be an efficient volume scorer.

It started with a showdown on Dec. 1 against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. The Spurs had won the title in 1999, and after Tim Duncan had missed the 2000 postseason, they were hungry to regain the crown.

But so was Bryant.

He scored 16 points in the first half as Los Angeles raced out to a 62-42 halftime lead, only to see the Spurs rally to take the lead late in the third quarter.

But Bryant scored 20 points in the final 13 minutes of the game to help the Lakers pull away for a big 109-100 statement win.

On the night, he had 43 points on 16-of-31 shooting plus six assists, and he did so despite dealing with an upper respiratory infection. O’Neal, meanwhile, had 36 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots.

By scoring 43 points, Bryant had established a new career-high, although it wouldn’t stand for long.

The contest was a preview of what was to come deep in the playoffs that spring.

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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire