Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.
DECEMBER 19, 2003
DENVER NUGGETS 99 – LA LAKERS 101
ABOUT TIME: BRYANT CAPS OFF LATE ARRIVAL FROM COURT WITH GAME-WINNING BASKET AGAINST NUGGETS
Let’s set the scene: At the beginning of Friday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, Kobe Bryant was nowhere to be found. Specifically, Bryant was traveling back from Colorado where he had spent the day in his criminal hearing for sexual assault charges during the summer of 2003. With Kareem Rush starting the game at shooting guard, Bryant would arrive during the intermission between the first and second quarters to the standing ovation of the crowd at Staples Center.
With the Lakers leading by nine points near the end of the fourth quarter, the Nuggets rallied with a 9-0 run behind the play of rookie Carmelo Anthony, who would sink two free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining, putting his game total at a team-high 24 points and tying the game at 99-99. Those 2.5 seconds, however, left the door open for one last shot from the Lakers, whose inbounds pass was intended to go elsewhere. Regardless, it found Bryant and the rest is history. Bryant would finish with 13 points and five assists in the 101-99 win for the Lakers, pushing them to 19-5 and breaking their two-game losing streak.
Quote of the Night: “It’s been a long day, a long draining day. I wanted to get out and play, just play the game.” – Laker Kobe Bryant on his performance in his game against the Nuggets, scoring 13 points off the bench including a game-winning basket at the end of regulation. - From the LA Times, Dec. 20, 2003