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Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James: Looking Back at Their Epic Matchups

John FrielAnalyst ISeptember 5, 2016

Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James: Looking Back at Their Epic Matchups

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    LeBron James and Kobe Bryant certainly know how to put on a show for their respective teams as well as the populous taking part in viewing.

    When these two titans clash, you know you're going to be in for an impressive showing that will most likely feature a game that goes down to the wire.

    Whether he was on the Cleveland Cavaliers or Miami Heat, James has always had epic battles with Kobe Bryant's Lakers. Both players attempt to match each other shot for shot, and the games are usually decided in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

    In 16 games, James leads the series 11-5, which includes last night's 98-87 victory where he scored 31 points.

    Overall, James has averaged 27 points on 43 percent shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Bryant has done just as well—averaging 25 points on 41 percent shooting to go along with five boards, five assists and a steal.

    We'll take a look back on their five greatest statistical matchups.

March 19, 2006

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    LeBron James: 29 points (10-of-24), eight rebounds, seven assists and one steal

    Kobe Bryant: 38 points (15-of-33), six rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block

    It took five matchups, but we finally got to see our epic duel between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James three years into the former Cleveland Cavaliers career.

    The Bryant's 38 points marked the first time that either of these players have scored over 30 points against each other.

    Despite Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers holding a 14-point lead going into the half, the Cleveland Cavaliers would come storming back with a 26-14 fourth quarter to give the Cavs an improbable 96-95 victory.

    Bryant got relief from Lamar Odom's 25 and Smush Parker's 14, but it would be Zydrunas Ilgaukas' 25 points and 'Flip' Murray's 21 that would ultimately put the Lakers away.

    The Cavs scavenged up seven more offensive rebounds in a game where every bounce mattered. It seemed that the fourth quarter finally went to James, instead of Bryant, for once.

February 15th, 2007

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    LeBron James: 38 points (10-of-16), four rebounds, three assists and three steals

    Kobe Bryant: 34 points (9-of-22), six rebounds, five assists, and two steals

    The first of three times that both players would drop over 30 points apiece, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had arguably their best matchup against each other in this particular game.

    Once again, it was the Cavaliers coming out on top by way of a 114-106 victory. It was close throughout as the Cavs only possessed a two-point lead going into the half before using a 35-point third quarter to stretch the margin a little.

    They'd play the Lakers to a tie in the fourth and would come out victorious.

    It was a scoring onslaught from both sides. The Lakers had five players in double figures, while the Cavaliers had seven. Lamar Odom contributed 20 and Sasha Vujacic posted up 14 for the Lakers. Anderson Varejao had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Larry Hughes had 14 points for Cleveland.

    Perhaps the biggest story of the game were the free throws. The two teams took a combined 97 free throws with James and Bryant combining for 37 of them alone. Hughes, James and Eric Snow all took at least 10 free throws, while Bryant led the way for Los Angeles with 15.

    Cleveland went 41-of-55 from the line.

January 27, 2008

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    LeBron James: 41 points (16-of-32), nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals

    Kobe Bryant: 33 points (10-of-21), 12 rebounds, six assists, and one block

    Statistically speaking, this was the best matchup between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James by far.

    This was the first and only time that either player would score 40 or better. James was only one-of-five from beyond the arc, but 32 shot attempts and 8-of-12 shooting from the foul line would aid him in the long run. It would also result in yet another Cavaliers victory by a score of 98-95.

    While LeBron had three other teammates scoring in double figures, Bryant only had one. Kobe couldn't do anything about it either—his team was so abysmal at the time that it was no wonder why they kept losing to LeBron's Cavaliers, who were a few months removed from making their first NBA Finals.

    Lamar Odom had 14 for the Lakers and no other player scored 10 or more points.

    The Cavs received 16 points and 11 boards from Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 16 points from Larry Hughes and 10 points from Daniel Gibson off the bench.

    Cleveland overcame a fourth quarter deficit and 13 more free throws were given to the Lakers. It was a wild game: The teams matched 11 point advantages in the second and third quarter.

January 21, 2010

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    LeBron James: 37 points (13-of-25), nine assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block

    Kobe Bryant: 31 points (12-of-31), four assists and two rebounds 

    It seems that LeBron James happens to win a whole lot of these games against the Los Angeles Lakers.

    For his career, he's 11-5 including last night's victory.

    Once again, it was another close game as the Cavs only won 93-87. The Lakers rocketed out to a 27-19 first quarter lead, but would quickly relinquish it. They'd only go into the half up by one point. The Cavaliers would then outscore the Lakers by eight points in the second half to take the game once and for all.

    The Lakers were held to 39 percent shooting with Bryant's 12-of-31 helping to weigh it down. He didn't get much help, however, as Pau Gasol finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Lamar Odom completed with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

    They managed to stay in this game because of a 15-6 advantage on the offensive glass, which gave them 12 more possessions than their opponent.

    James showed out with a huge game. He shot a great percentage, had a lot of points and played well-rounded, team basketball. Shaquille O'Neal had 13 points and six boards against his former team, J.J. Hickson finished with 11 points and 14 boards and Anderson Varejao had 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

December 25th, 2010

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    LeBron James: 27 points (8-of-14), 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals

    Kobe Bryant: 17 points (6-of-16), seven assists, six rebounds, and one steal

    LeBron's first meeting with Kobe while in a Miami Heat uniform certainly was one to remember.

    Even though Kobe toned down the matchup with 17 points on less-than-impressive shooting, James became the first player in their meetings to record a triple-double.

    This game wasn't that close. The Heat held the Lakers to 14 first-quarter points and wouldn't look back—they'd take a nine-point advantage going into the half. They would then maintain that lead and continue building it before ultimately winning 96-80.

    It was the first time the Heat and Lakers have met up since Shaquille O'Neal departed from Miami.

    The Heat got 24 points and 13 rebounds from Chris Bosh, 18 points and strong defense from Dwyane Wade and 13 points from Mario Chalmers. All of that was overshadowed by LeBron's performance, however, as he not only had the triple-double, but also shot five-of-six from beyond the arc as well.

    Bryant has seen better days. Wade focused the majority of his attention and energy on defending Bryant and it paid off for the Heat. Pau Gasol had 17, Lamar Odom had 14 and Shannon Brown had 10 off the bench.

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