Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant scores 60 points in his final game before retirement

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Kobe Bryant bowed out in spectacular fashion as he recorded yet another achievement in his final NBA appearance. He now holds the accolade of most points scored in a final game before departing the league. 

After 20 brilliant years with the L.A. Lakers, Bryant gave the fans one more moment to cherish as he finished the game with an astonishing 60 points to lead the franchise to only their 17th win of the season.

The celebration at the Staples Center kicked off in the way we have become accustomed to during Bryant's retirement tour. After a number of tribute videos that involved messages from former teammates and friends, it was down to business.

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Red Hot Chilli Peppers' bassist Flea did a rendition of 'Star Spangled Banner' on his bass guitar before the players took to the hardwood. It was a rough start for the Black Mamba as he went for zero from his first five from the field, but one of the biggest streak shooters in history did what made him so special throughout his career, he got hot. 

Kobe went a perfect 100 percent from his next five shots. He brought the crowd to life with a big block on Trevor Booker before going straight up the other end and notching his first points of the night. 

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His pull-up jump shot capped a run that included a three-point shot and four points from the free throw line as he recorded 14 of the Lakers' 19 points in the opening quarter. Roy Hibbert had the other four as the scores were tied after 12 minutes.

The 37-year old played all of the first quarter and returned to the game with 6:13 left in the half and the Lakers trailing 33-29. Playing until the end of the half, Bryant added another seven points to his collection to be the highest scoring player at the interval. 

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

He missed a three before producing the type of driving lay-up that has become second nature to the guard throughout his career. He added another point from the charity stripe before nailing a three-pointer.

Bryant missed two consecutive shots from behind the arc, adding just one more point from the line. With five seconds remaining on the clock, the crowd inside Staples rose their feet, but his signature fadeaway would not fall. 

At the half, Kobe had 22 points off 7-20 from the field as the Utah Jazz led by 57-42. 

The plan throughout the evening was for Bryant to play the entirety of the first and third quarters and he came out to start the second half. His first assist of the game was for D'Angelo Russell just 18 seconds into the quarter. 

In under a minute, Bryant cut the Jazz's lead from 15 to nine with his signature turnaround jump shot sandwiched between two impressive driving layups.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

The night continued to be all about the Mamba as he reached 37 points by the end of the third. Having shot 14-34 up to that point, people were beginning to believe he could go out with a 50+ point night.

Of course, Bryant was feeling good and went out to start the fourth. Having shot just 3-17 from three-point land, he nailed his fourth of the night to take his tally to 46 after some impressive jump shots. 

What happened next was simply incredible. He took the game by the scruff of the neck, as he has done so often in the past 20-years, and dominated. The Utah Jazz had no answer and the game was turned on its head as everything Kobe touched turned to gold. 

He sunk shot after shot. Three-pointer, jump shot, layup, you name it. The crowd inside the stadium was on its feet, the atmosphere was electric, and it was, in every sense of the word, a perfect send off.

He left the floor with 4.1 seconds to go to a standing ovation as the capacity crowd voiced their appreciation for a performance that epitomised everything that made the Mamba so great.

It was a simply incredible performance from a once in a lifetime superstar.

Kobe Bryant
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference

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