Kobe Bryant gives Lakers 3-0 lead in NBA Finals


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After the Los Angeles Lakers barely got past the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals, their NBA Finals matchup with the New Jersey Nets was expected to be a farce.

The Nets were a good team that won 52 games and were centered around the talents of Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd. They even finished first in the league in defensive rating.

But they lacked offensive firepower, and they didn’t exactly have a superstar who could carry them or impose his will on their opponent.

In the first two games of the 2002 Finals, Shaquille O’Neal imposed his will on the Nets, scoring 36 and 40 points, respectively.

The Lakers took a 2-0 lead to Bergen County for Game 3, and for the first time in the series, the Nets showed life and fight.

Despite trailing early, they actually took a modest lead in the fourth quarter, as Kidd went for 30 points and 10 assists.

But after playing a subservient role in the first two contests, Kobe Bryant started to assert himself and prevented New Jersey from getting on the board.

With less than 30 seconds left and L.A. clinging to a two-point lead, Bryant was covered like flypaper by Kidd, who was considered one of the best defenders in basketball.

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Guard Kerry Kittles came over to help and try for a steal, but Bryant got away from him and hit a jumper from just inside the free throw line in Kidd’s face to seal a 106-103 win.

Bryant finished with 36 points on 14-of-23 shooting, while O’Neal continued his dominance with 35 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Game 3 turned out to be New Jersey’s last gasp, as the Lakers concluded matters in Game 4 to officially claim their third straight NBA championship.

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