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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 3, 2002

With a 6-12 record, the three-time defending champion Lakers were at the bottom of the Pacific Division. Laker center Shaquille O’Neal was still working himself back into playing shape, Robert Horry was recovering from a foot injury that had forced him to miss two games and Kobe Bryant…well, for Kobe Bryant, really nothing negative to write here. After all, in 18 games Bryant had scored no less than 15 points per contest and had rebounded and passed his way to three triple-doubles.

For Bryant, his Tuesday night game against the Grizzlies would be vintage. Shooting 11-for-16 from the field, Bryant would score 24 points to go along with his 10 rebounds and 11 assists, scoring his fourth triple-double of the season. With no one on the Grizzlies roster to guard Bryant (Shane Battier at this point was only a sophomore in the league), Bryant would abuse Memphis with crossovers and slashes to the rim. On one play near the end of the first half, Bryant spun off Grizzlies forward Gordan Giricek on the right wing, past future teammate Pau Gasol and launched himself toward the far side of the rim for a thunderous dunk.

There were blemishes in the Lakers’ team performance, however, as Memphis would have six scorers in double figures as well as forcing 20 turnovers against the Lakers. Even against a Grizzlies team that was 2-11, the Lakers would be played close the entire game until a 17-7 fourth-quarter run would put the game out of reach. Despite the tenseness on the court, the Lakers did have a few lighthearted moments: Laker forward Mark Madsen would go to the line near the end of the first half, only to airball consecutive free throws. Robert Horry would return and play 27 minutes, shooting 4-for-6 from the field and scoring 11 points. The Lakers would move to 7-12 (with two of their victories against the lowly Grizzlies within a span of five days), still at the bottom of the Pacific Division, but beginning to find somewhat of a groove.

Quote of the Night: “”The players were asking me to get out the sage or the sweet grass and smudge the locker room again, because it’s obvious that there’s something amiss in the air. But I just say it’s a matter of communication and we’re going to get that and we’ll be in sync soon.” – Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson on his team’s lack of chemistry to start the 2002-03 season. – From the LA Times, Dec. 4, 2002.