Kobe Bryant’s top 100 games: No. 34

·1 min read

Many people feel the most important game of the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant era for the Los Angeles Lakers was Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings.

It was the biggest test they would ever have, and it would take place at Arco Arena before the Kings’ raucous and rabid fans.

The first half was close and intense, as both teams appeared primed to meet the challenge. Both O’Neal and Bryant had 18 points apiece, but the Los Angeles trailed 54-52 at halftime.

A 9-2 run to start the third quarter gave the Kings a 63-54 lead, and the Lakers looked cooked. But Bryant scored six points and added an assist in the next four minutes or so as they took a one-point lead, despite Sacramento preventing them from getting the ball inside to O’Neal.

Down the stretch, the two teams battled for what was essentially seen as the NBA championship, and while no one on the Kings other than Mike Bibby wanted the ball, L.A. maintained its cool.

Bryant scored five points in the final minute of regulation and overtime as the Lakers won, 112-106. He finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and no turnovers.

With the New Jersey Nets greatly overmatched in the NBA Finals, the Lakers swept their way to their third straight world title, establishing the foundation for a true dynasty.

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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire