Kobe Bryant stunned the Staples Center crowd, his own teammates and the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, dunking over forward/center Clint Capela in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 107-87 loss.
Bryant’s teammates were so overcome on the sideline, rookie D’Angelo Russell was called for a technical foul for leaving the Lakers’ bench in celebration.
“That was vintage Mamba right there,” said forward Julius Randle after the game.
“Good to see the old guy’s still got it,” said Rockets center Dwight Howard, Bryant’s former teammate.
Bryant even surprised himself. He reflected on his first dunk of the season.
“It’s like the Casey Jr. train, ‘I think I can. I think I can,’” said Bryant after the game. “First dribble, second dribble, I said, ‘My legs feel pretty good.’”
“Then I jumped and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m still going up.’ Then I said, ‘I might as well give it a try,’” Bryant continued. “I thought about my shoulder a little bit. Then I said, ‘Dude, how many times am I going to jump where my legs actually feel fine?’”
Bryant is in his 20th and final NBA season. His 2014-15 campaign ended with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
While Bryant finished with a team-high 22 points, the Lakers lost by 20 -- although the game was a lot closer than the final margin. The Lakers were within five points with nine minutes to go, but turnovers led to a late Houston surge.
The Lakers have only four wins in 26 tries. Bryant’s throwback dunk was easily one of the highlights of his farewell season.