HomeBasketball TodayReliving Kobe Bryant's Epic 2010 Western Conference Final with Goran Dragic

Reliving Kobe Bryant’s Epic 2010 Western Conference Final with Goran Dragic

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Good times.

There are not many players in league history who could compete with the resume of Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba solidified himself as arguably the greatest player to come out of the Los Angeles Lakers system. One big reason for his legendary status was the insane NBA Playoffs run he had back in 2010. Goran Dragic vividly remembers every moment of that series when his Phoenix Suns got decimated.

The idea of facing Kobe Bryant in the NBA Playoffs was not particularly pleasing to the minds of NBA players. They knew that the ball was going to him and that the offensive schemes would run through him but they just would not find a way to stop it. This was the same scenario that the Suns were in back in 2010. Their Western Conference clash was a tough series to revisit because of how it ended. Nonetheless, Goran Dragic still outlined his feelings back in that moment, via The OGs.

“You know 2010 when we played the Conference Finals versus the Lakers. I really thought we were going to make the finals, but you know on the other side was Kobe. Oh my God,” the Suns guard said.

Goran Dragic had played 80 games in the regular season but he was not used to the Lakers legend. His meager production of 7.9 points alongside 2.1 rebounds and three assists just did not compare to how potent of a scorer Kobe Bryant was. He even remembered how the Suns employed some crazy defensive tactics just to prevent the Lakers legend from scoring

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“We would put literally four guys on him and he would not even pass the ball because he knew that the other teammates would not make the shot. He would just shoot over the guys and make everything. It was unbelievable,” Dragic declared.

So, how did this negatively affect the Lakers franchise player back then? Well, they did hold him under 30 points in one game. Other than that, Bryant steamrolled the Suns with 33.7 points on a nightly basis paired with 8.3 assists and 7.2 rebounds.

Lakers’ path to Banner 16

Mar 18, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; A statue of Kobe Bryant at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Jackson was still the mastermind in the Lakers system. He led his team to a 103.7 defensive rating which sat fourth in the league. Their 11th-ranked offensive rating of 108.8 might not have been the best but it still notched them a 57-win record. The regular season went as expected which meant that teams had placed a target behind every Lakers’ backs.

The NBA Playoffs commenced.  Their first challenge was the Oklahoma City Thunder. This young squad managed to hold their own. A young Kevin Durant was sinking 35% of his field goals for 25 points and was also a nifty rim protector with 1.3 blocks throughout the series. Russell Westbrook also added 20.5 points of his own. But, the Lakers were just too much. Bryant and Pau Gasol ended this fledgling team’s postseason run in six games.

Next, the Utah Jazz showed little resistance in the second round. Deron Williams may have had a deep squad behind of capable 15+ point scorers but they were picked apart in every single game. The Lakers won this series in four. Dragic and the Suns showed a little bit more fight in them in the Western Conference Finals but it was still to no avail. They were packed up in six games.

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The final challenge? It was the Boston Celtics yet again. Expectedly, this series reached seven games. Bryant may have just scored 23 points in the final game but it was enough for the Lakers to win it all with an 83 to 79 scoreline.

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