LOS ANGELES -- After an abysmal start to his 20th and final NBA season, Kobe Bryant has rebounded with several strong performances, the latest coming Thursday, when the Los Angeles Lakers icon scored 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting against the Houston Rockets.
The Lakers still lost the game, 107-87, dropping them to 4-22, but the game marked another encouraging performance from the the 37-year-old Bryant, who also grabbed eight rebounds in 32 minutes.
In his past six games, Bryant is averaging a team-high 18.8 points on 48.8 percent shooting from the field. He’s also averaging 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 29.3 minutes.
Prior to those six games, Bryant was averaging 15.9 points on 29.6 percent shooting, which put him on pace to potentially become the first player in the shot-clock era to shoot less than 30 percent from the field while taking 15 shots per game.
Can he sustain his current level of play?
"[The legs] feel great now," Bryant said. "I feel like I can maintain this. But it’s always a give-and-take with Father Time. Sometimes he lets me lead the way and sometimes he leads the way. Just kind of roll with it."
There are 56 regular-season games remaining, and Bryant, of course, would like to play in all of them, but he wasn’t ready to commit to the idea that he’d play as well in all of them as he is playing at the moment.
"Well, it’s always a good idea not to mock Father Time," Bryant said. "So I’ll just say as long as he lets me lead the way, I’m cool with that."
Bryant said once again that his legs feel much better than earlier in the season.
"I feel good," Bryant said. "I feel fine. I feel normal. My timing is down. My legs feel good consistently."
He emphasized that much of his success now is owed to timing.
"The last three seasons, I really haven’t played that much [because of injuries]," he said. "I’ve had a lot of time off, so you’ve kind of got to get accustomed to the rhythm and I think that was the biggest thing, probably."