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Like every other team in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Seattle SuperSonics saw domination from the late, great Kobe Bryant during the legend’s NBA career.
Bryant scored at least 30 points 28 times against the Sonics/Thunder, broke 40 points more than half a dozen times and even reached the 50-point plateau.
In 65 regular-season games against the franchise, Bryant averaged 24.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
He played 14 playoff games against the franchise. In 1998, as a second-year pro, his Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sonics in five games. Bryant appeared in three of the games.
That was his only playoff series against Seattle. In 2010, the Lakers beat the Thunder en route to a championship, and in 2012, Oklahoma City overcame Bryant’s 31.2 points per game to get the series win in five games.
On the anniversary of Bryant’s death, we’re taking a look back at some of his best performances against the Thunder franchise going back to their Sonics days.
Stats are courtesy of Statmuse.com.
April 20, 2010: 39 points
Kobe Bryant capped his 39-point playoff performance in Game 2 of the first round of the 2010 playoffs by scoring seven of the Lakers' final nine points to beat the Thunder 95-92 and overcome Kevin Durant's 32 points. The Lakers went up 2-0 on the series, a lead that proved to be important when the Thunder won the next two games. Had Oklahoma City been able to close out Game 2, the team would have been able to go ahead 3-1. Instead, Los Angeles won the series in six games. Bryant would win his fifth and final NBA championship that season.
Dec. 22, 2009: 40 points
Bryant averaged more than 32 points per game against Oklahoma City in the 2009-10 season, and the highest scoring total came in the final regular season game. In the 111-108 Lakers victory, Bryant scored 40 without making a single 3-pointer. He shot 53.8% from the field and made 12 free throws. He also had eight rebounds and six assists over almost 44 minutes of play. Bryant scored 10 of the Lakers final 15 points. This victory pushed the Lakers' record to a ridiculous 23-4 in the early stages of that season.
February 23, 2003: 41 points
AP Photo/Lucy Nicholson
The good news for the SuperSonics: Bryant was held to 38.2% shooting. The bad news: He had 16 free throw attempts and managed to put up 41 next to Shaquille O'Neal's 27 points to get the 106-101 win. Bryant scored 16 points in the second quarter alone to elevate L.A. to a halftime lead. He finished the game with five rebounds, three assists and three steals. The two of them overcame the combined 54 points between Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
April 8, 2005: 42 points
Bryant scored at least 30 points in all three Lakers matchups against the Sonics in 2005, but he only won one: the game in which he put up 42. He doubled his point total in the fourth quarter -- Bryant had 21 points through three quarters and then scored another 21 in the final frame. Bryant made seven 3-pointers, a total he eclipsed only five times in his career, and shot 15-for-22 from the field overall. Los Angeles won 117-94.
May 21, 2012: 42 points
Photo: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE
In what ended up being Bryant's final playoff game of his career, he put up one of the highest point totals he ever had in the postseason. In Game 5 of the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals, Bryant scored posted 42 points on 18-for-33 shooting (54.5%) and had five rebounds. Those 42 points was the most Oklahoma City would see from him in a postseason matchup. OKC got the better of L.A., as no one else on the Lakers scored more than 14 (Pau Gasol) while the Thunder's trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden combined for 70 points. The Thunder won 106-90 to clinch the conference semifinals. They would go on to make an NBA Finals appearance against the Miami Heat. Bryant missed the 2013 playoffs due to injury and did not return to the postseason.
March 31, 2006: 43 points
Over 46 minutes of play, Bryant racked up 43 points against the SuperSonics to pull off the 106-93 victory. He went 17-for-38 from the field and had five rebounds and four assists. Twenty-four of his points came in the second half. Allen's 29 points, which included five 3-pointers, was not enough to take Los Angeles down. The Lakers improved to 39-35 on the year while Seattle dropped to 29-43.
Jan. 7, 2003
Los Angels Lakers' Kobe Bryant reacts to his sixth 3-point basket during the first half against the Seattle SuperSonics at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2003. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Young Kobe demolished the SuperSonics in 2003. He had performances of 34 points, 41 points and 45 points (and a 14-point game, which dragged his season average against Seattle all the way down to a mere 33.5 points per game). On Jan. 7 of that year, he torched the Sonics with a career-high 12 3-pointers on 18 attempts. He went 6-for-6 from deep in the second quarter alone and then made five more 3-pointers in the third quarter to score a combined 38 points between those two frames alone. He only played four minutes in the fourth quarter as Los Angeles ran to a 119-98 victory.
April 6, 2007: 46 points
Instead of dominating from the 3-point line, Bryant dominated at the charity stripe. He attempted 24 free throws and made 19 of them, both of which were a bit shy of his career highs (23 made free throws, which he did twice, and 27 attempts, which he also did twice. All four of those were in separate games). Bryant made nine of the Lakers' final 13 points in the 112-109 win over the Sonics and finished with 46 points. He scored 20 in the third quarter alone. In getting the win, the Lakers outplayed Chris Wilcox and his 32-point, 18-rebound performance.
Jan. 14, 2008: 48 points
Kobe Bryant shoots the winning shot in overtime against the Seattle SuperSonics at Key Arena January 14, 2008 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
With about two minutes left to play in overtime Jan. 14, 2008, Bryant hit a short shot to cut the Sonics' lead to 121-119. On the next possession, he made a jumper to tie it. He then hit the game-winning 18-footer with four seconds left to play to give the Lakers a 123-121 win. Bryant's 21 total made shots in the victory ended up being tied for the fifth-most he had made in a regular-single game over his career. He made only two 3-pointers and four free throws, but he was 19-for-36 from inside the arc to carry L.A. Seven Sonics scored double-digits, including a rookie Durant, but Bryant got the better of them as he so often did. He overcame an upper respiratory infection that had impacted him during the week to get the win.
April 15, 2007: 50 points
On the Lakers' fourth-to-last game of the 2006-07 season, Bryant put up 50 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. Two games later, he replicated that feat against the Sonics. Kobe went 18-for-25 from the field and made three of six 3-pointers while going 11-for-13 from the free throw line to dominate Seattle over the 42 minutes he played. He also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. This was the highest point total he accumulated against the Sonics or Thunder, and was one of the 26 times in his career in which he racked up 50 points or more.