by Marcel Mutoni

I pick this up midway through the third quarter. Kobe’s got 45, and has hit 10 straight shots. He’s going to the line. I’m actually kind of scared. I had been watching the whole game, but only decided to start writing about it when each and every Laker possession in the second half became Kobe-Watch. This, of course, was the norm last season. Not this year.

Anyhow, here’s what he’s been doing to the Jazz defense tonight: pull ups (including a few hanging ones, and one in the second quarter where he was nicked on the arm, gathered himself after the whistle, and swished it home); threes (at one point he was just taking a dribble after crossing the half and letting it fly and everything was coming up wet); getting to the line at will (nothing new here); vicious dunks (a couple of posters, and sure signs that the knee is getting stronger); and I’m pretty sure he didn’t crack a single smile during the onslaught.

A mesmerizing, almost terrifying performance. I feel bad for CJ Miles (welcome to the League, kiddo), Kirilenko, and whoever else had the unfortunate assignment of checking no. 8/24.

I was hoping that Phil Jackson would let him play the rest of the game, just to see what else he could do. Unfortunately, the game was out of hand, and Phil did the right thing by taking him out. They even shared a cute little hug as Mamba exited. Awwwwww. The crowd, which had been chanting “MVP!” since the second half started, also gave Kobe a very loud ovation.

Final stats: 52 points (on 19-26 shooting), 4 boards, and 3 assists. He came just 3 points shy of George Gervin’s record for most points in a quarter of 33, which Iceman set in 1978 on the last day of the season as he battled David Thompson for the scoring title.

Tonight, Kobe put on one of the best shooting exhibitions of all time.

Talking to Craig Sager after the game, he summed up his historic performance nicely: “It felt like I was playing on a Playstation or something.”

(Update: Courtesy of my Fanhouse pad’na, The Mighty MJD, you can take a look at the You Tube video of Kobe’s 11 straight field goals from last night. Know what, this Internet thing might not be such a bad idea after all.)