Kobe Bryant named NBA Western Conference Player of the Month

Harry How

Kobe caps off an unbelievable February with a 33 point performance on Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. More importantly, Bryant's play led the Lakers to a 9-4 month, sorely needed as the team chases the Rockets, Jazz and Warriors for a postseason berth.

Kobe Bryant was named the NBA's Western Conference Player of the Month today via NBA.com. He led the team for the month with 23.9 ppg, 6.6 apg in 36.1 minutes, while also boarding 6.7 rpg, shooting .489 from the field and .852 from the free throw line.

Most significantly, the Mamba did all this in a pressure packed month that started off with the Lakers six games below .500. LA has needed every contribution he's made in February, going 9-4 behind an incredible stretch of vintage Kobe performances. The team has thus battled back to a 29-30 record, even with Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and Dwight Howard all shelved for various amounts of time with injuries.

Though Kobe is always doin' work, four of his best games of the month were in team's last four bouts, in which Bryant scored 40, 38, 29 and 33 points and shooting no worse than .522 in any of them. Of those, his 38 point (on 13 for 21 FGA), 12 rebound and 7 assist performance in Dallas against the Mavericks in a game with playoff implications helped propel him towards this award.

This is Bryant's 17th player of the month nod and his first since January 2012. According to NBA.com, other candidates were James Harden, Ty Lawson, Zach Randolph, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker.

On the other side of the league, LeBron James was the Eastern Conference Player of the Month.

--Mambino

--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino

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