Kobe's scoring tops LeBron's line

Great individual performances mark the high points of almost any NBA season. These days, the regular season runs 1,230 games, and the pecking order of the respective conferences has generally been established by December. As those team races are gradually unfolding, it's the great individual performances that keep us riveted.

The past week in the NBA was marked by a cluster of amazing displays. Kobe Bryant got the week started by scoring 61 points in the Lakers' win over the Knicks on February 2. That was a season high for the league, the fifth time Bryant has topped 60 points in a game and the 24th time he's gone over 50. Not to be outdone, Cleveland's LeBron James put on a show for Madison Square Garden fans just two night later, scoring 52 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and handing out 11 assists in the Cavs' relatively easy win over the Knicks. Two days later, on February 8, Phoenix point guard Steve Nash capped the remarkable week by handing out 21 assists during the Suns' win in Detroit.

So, a 61-point game, a 52-point near-triple-double, and a 21-assist performance. The three spectacular performances by three of the NBA's biggest stars coming so close together serves as a perfect time to consider the ramifications of such a series of events. What do these performances really mean, both in the context of basketball history and in the practical sense of helping a team win a game?