With so much of the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff hopes seemingly riding on the evolution of Kobe Bryant, the MVP candidate decided to turn back the clock during the team's Tuesday night matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.
With the score tied at 80 and less than three minutes on the clock, this was not the time for Bryant to show off his new-found passing ability.
The physical, 6'7", 220-pound Gerald Wallace blanketed Bryant on the perimeter. A slight hesitation opened a driving lane to his right, and Bryant hammered on the gas.
With Wallace on his hip and 6'9", 235-pound Kris Humphries waiting at the rim, Bryant forged through the paint and took flight from outside the restricted area.
By the time he had completed the thunderous one-handed flush, Twitter nearly exploded.
Some observations were subtle:
Kobe...— gary washburn (@GwashNBAGlobe) February 6, 2013
Kobe Bryant just dunked on the Nets, maybe all of them— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) February 6, 2013
KOBE. DUNKS. HARD!— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) February 6, 2013
Damn. Kobe with the crazy one-handed dunk in traffic, like he's 22.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) February 6, 2013
Bryant's effort was lauded by L.A. fans, but the appreciation was not lost on the New York side:
Welcome to Brooklyn Kobe— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) February 6, 2013
More importantly, Bryant helped lead his Lakers (23-26) to their sixth win in their past seven games as they defeated the Nets 92-83.
With both Dwight Howard (shoulder) and Metta World Peace (suspension) unavailable, Bryant attacked the Brooklyn defense with a team-high 21 points. He added eight rebounds, four steals and four assists in his 37-plus minutes.
Brook Lopez led the Nets (28-20) with 30 points and 11 rebounds.