The Lakers were in search of their first NBA title in 12 years and the only team standing in their way was the Indiana Pacers. The Lakers won the first two games in Los Angeles, taking care of their home court. When the series shifted to Indiana, the Pacers were able to win Game 3 and went into Game 4 with a lot of confidence.
Bryant was not able to play in Game 3 because he sprained his ankle in Game 2 and although he was not 100 percent, he was set on playing in Game 4. The Lakers started the game slow and the Pacers would quickly grab the lead. It was apparent that the ankle injury was slowing Bryant down. as he only scored six points in the first half.
Although both Bryant and O’Neal were dealing with foul trouble, the Lakers would climb back into the game in the second half. The game was close in the fourth quarter and 48 minutes was not enough to determine a winner. The game went into overtime and the Lakers started fast, but with 2:33 left, O’Neal fouled out and the Lakers would have to close the deal without the reining NBA MVP.
Bryant would quickly assure his teammates that he had it all under control. With O’Neal watching from the sidelines, Bryant would go on to hit some clutch shots down the stretch and give the Lakers a 120-118 victory.
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