2011 NBA Playoffs: Kobe Bryant Kicks in the Afterburners in Game 5 vs. Hornets

The Los Angeles Lakers faced an improbable 2-2 tie in the first round of the playoffs against the No. 7 New Orleans Hornets, having lost Game 4.  To make matters worse, Kobe Bryant, the Lakers all-time leading scorer and perennial All-Star, turned an ankle and refused to let the Lakers' training staff test it.

"He says he'll play," said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, which was basically the extent of the information.  Bryant scored a single point in the first quarter of Game 5, fueling speculation that he might be seriously hurt.

Then came the second quarter, and that dunk.  New Orleans swingman Trevor Ariza closed in on Bryant at the top of the key, where Bryant passed on a jump shot and elected to drive the lane.  He blew by Hornets center Emeka Okafor, extended the ball a half-foot above the basket and slammed it down.  His dunk not only set the Staples Center crowd on fire, it ended all talk of MRIs, X-rays and bum ankles.

Bryant would go on to score 19 points, including a ferocious, left-handed, third-quarter follow-up dunk, and the Lakers would win Game 5, 106-90, regaining control of the series, which heads back to New Orleans for a 9:30 EST start Thursday night. 

Quotes were obtained from the Los Angeles Times.


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