No. 1: Kobe Bryant vs. Rasheed Wallace — 2000 WCF, Game 7
There have been higher-scoring battles between Bryant and opposing Blazers, but there was never a game of this magnitude.
A quick reciting of the story: the Lakers steamrolled their way through the Western Conference with a 67-win season, but because the talented bunch had been swept in each of the past two postseasons, they were a difficult sell.
What Portland lacked in commercial star power, they more than sufficed through depth and talent.
The Blazers fell behind 3-1 in the series, but had a chance to become just the seventh team in NBA history to overcome it successfully. In doing so, a marquee game from All-Star Rasheed Wallace would be a doctor’s order.
Wallace held his own, particularly over the first three quarters. By game’s end, the smooth-shooting big dealt out 30 points on 13-of-26 shooting, routinely abusing the shorter A.C. Green and Robert Horry, at one point prompting the great Bill Walton to say, “That guy is in the zone, Rasheed Wallace. Why he doesn’t touch the ball every time for the Blazers … mind boggling.”
Wallace’s touch betrayed him late in the game, and that opened the door for Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal to turn a 73-58 deficit into an 89-84 triumph.
There’s an ambiguity about this game; some remember it for the alley-oop from Bryant to O’Neal, others for the idea that the Lakers were preordained to win it, which we’ve looked into whistle-for-whistle.
In whichever case, it should be remembered for the all-time great fireworks between Wallace and Bryant, who added a 25-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist game, saving much of it for when it was needed most. The rivalry peaked here, but it remains an all-time great moment.