Since a Sports Illustrated article was published on Thursday in which Kobe Bryant guaranteed that the Los Angeles Lakers will make the playoffs, Kobe has been playing some outstanding basketball.
For the first time in Bryant's career, he has scored at least 38 points while shooting better than 60 percent from the field in consecutive games.
After scoring 40 points on 15-of-23 shooting (65 percent) in a win against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, Kobe had 38 points on 13-of-21 shooting (62 percent) as the Lakers defeated the Mavericks on Sunday.
38 Points, 60 FG pct in Consecutive Games
Oldest Players in NBA History
Kobe is the oldest player in NBA history to score at least 38 points while shooting at least 60 percent in consecutive games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Sunday was just the third time in Bryant's career that he's had at least 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a game. It's the first time he's ever done so while shooting at least 50 percent.
Bryant is the second-oldest player in NBA history with at least 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a game while shooting 60 percent or better from the field. The only older player to do so was Elgin Baylor in 1970, according to Elias.
Kobe was especially dominant down the stretch on Sunday. He shot 9-for-11 in the second half, including a perfect 5-for-5 in the fourth quarter.
It's the fourth time in Kobe's career that he's attempted at least five shots without missing one in the fourth quarter. Not surprisingly, the Lakers are 4-0 in those games. It's the first time he's done so in nearly five years (April 2, 2008 vs Portland).
Kobe Bryant in 4th Quarter This Season
In his last two games, Kobe is 8-for-10 from the field and 8-for-9 on free throws in the fourth quarter.
Sunday was the first time Kobe made a 3-point attempt in the fourth quarter in over a month. His last fourth-quarter 3-pointer was January 20 at Toronto. It snapped his streak of 12 straight missed 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Is Kobe playing his best basketball of the season right now? Perhaps it goes even beyond that. It seems that he could be playing the most efficient basketball of his career, as he's done things in the last two games that he's never done before.
Kobe's "Game Score" on Sunday was 31.5, his third-highest of the season. His highest Game Score this season was 32.2 on Friday against Portland, so based on that metric his last two games are among his three best performances of the season.
The last time Kobe had consecutive Game Scores of more than 31 was March 2007, when he scored at least 50 points in four straight games.
Game Score, tracked by Basketball-Reference.com, was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player's productivity for a single game.
The Lakers have now won three straight and eight of their last 10 games. But the important streak: 2-0 since "the guarantee" was published.