Kobe Bryant’s top 100 games: No. 72

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Early in the 2009-10 season, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were hot.

They won 18 of their first 21 games and 23 of their first 27, and it looked as if almost nothing could stop them.

Even an avulsion fracture on the index finger of Kobe Bryant’s shooting hand, sustained on Dec. 11 versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, couldn’t stop L.A.

On Dec. 29, sporting a 24-6 record, the Lakers hosted the Golden State Warriors, who had a rookie named Stephen Curry.

Curry had not yet shown he was going to be special — that would come later that season. But the Warriors, despite a dismal 9-21 record, were tough on this night, and Bryant needed to be at his best to put them away.

He shot 13-of-27 from the field and made all 16 of his free-throw attempts to score 44 points, to go along with 11 assists, as the Lakers outlasted Golden State, 124-118.

Bryant scored 17 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter, as L.A. finally held off the pesky Warriors in the final minutes.

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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire