Kobe Bryant in the last 5 Lakers possessions vs. Boston
by Andrew Kennedy
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics last night 88-87 in overtime. Kobe Bryant was the leading scorer for the Lakers with 27 points and went 11-pf-24 from the floor.
The Lakers won the game but were close to losing it as Bryant made some questionable (expected) decision making down the stretch in overtime.
On the Lakers’ last five possessions in the game, Bryant went 0-for-3 from the field and basically disregarded any offense that the Lakers had set up.
With the score tied at 82, Bryant made his final field goal of the game on a horrible possession where he bailed out the Lakers hitting a fadeaway 20-footer over Ray Allen with 3:36 left in the game.
Boston would not score on the next possession and the Lakers came back down on offense and had a great possession. Kobe came down and started the offense with the ball on the left wing waiting for Pau Gasol to come over to set him a pick.
Before Gasol got there Kobe drove baseline and was doubled by Ray Allen and Gasol’s man, Kevin Garnett.
Gasol cuts to the open area on the floor and Kobe found him with a nice pass. At this point with Kobe passing out of the double-team, the Boston defense was not in good position to defend the Lakers.
Gasol made one dribble toward the rim then kicked to Metta World Peace in the corner who then swung the ball to Steve Blake at the top of the key who made the jumper.
This is good offense by the Lakers as Kobe got rid of the ball when the double came and the Lakers then passed the ball around until they found the open man. This is what you do in the NBA. You try to get an open shot.
The Celtics came down and scored on the other end so the score is now 86-84 with the Lakers leading and 2:13 left in the game. Kobe starts the offense again on the left wing waiting for a Gasol screen to come.
Gasol sets it and Kobe uses it dribbling to the top of the key. Garnett comes to double Kobe and Kobe again passes out of the double to a wide open Gasol.
Gasol misses the open jump shot but it was good offense again by the Lakers finding the open man while Kobe keeps getting doubled.
At this point, Kobe has had it with his teammates missing open shots. What I think is now going on in his mind is that he is now the only one who should be shooting with the game on the line. He has a short leash for Gasol.
On the next Lakers possession they now find themselves trailing after a Paul Pierce three-pointer. Kobe starts the offense on the right wing this time with Gasol going over to set a pick.
Kobe does not wait for Gasol to come and drives hard right on Allen.
Kobe forces Jermaine O’Neal to come help Allen and Kobe shoots a fadeaway over two defenders.
This actually isn’t the worst shot. Kobe draws out all of the bigs from the Celtics defense with this decision and leaves Andrew Bynum unboxed out under the rim to get the offensive rebound, which he does giving the Lakers the lead.
The Lakers now lead 88-87 with about a minute and a half left. No one will score the rest of the game. The Lakers defense is good on the Celtics while Kobe goes into hero mode on the offensive end for Los Angeles.
Kobe starts the Lakers offense on the left wing with the same set being called by Mike Brown as Gasol is about to come over and set a pick for Bryant.
Kobe isn’t waiting for this and drives hard left toward the baseline. A younger Kobe may have been able to get around Allen here but not now.
Kobe ends up having to settle for a fadeaway jumper at the baseline with all of his momentum taking him to the left. It is an extremely difficult shot even for Kobe and he misses it.
This is not as good of a shot as the last one Kobe took. Part of the reason is that Kobe goes so soon in the offense to take the shot that the rest of his teammates aren’t in position to rebound or anything.
The Lakers are fortunate again to get a stop on defense and now have one last offensive possession with 14 seconds left in the game and up by one point.
Kobe starts the offense on the left wing again and Gasol knows not to even bother coming over to screen for him. Instead Gasol does the smart thing of just getting into position for a potential rebound.
Kobe starts to just back down Allen from 25 feet away, milking the clock.
Everyone knows who is shooting at this point including Garnett who comes over to double.
As Garnett doubles Kobe shoots another fadeaway over two defenders with five seconds left on the shot clock. Kobe had time to try and make a pass inside to Gasol who is wide open but decides on the near impossible shot instead.
Boston gets the rebound and has a chance to win the game on the other end with a Pierce shot but it does not go down.
This isn’t breaking news that Kobe is playing this way late in a game. He does it all of the time going into hero mode and it hurts his team’s chances of winning.
Is there some value in Kobe being able to take a shot from anywhere on the court and it always having some chance of going in? Yes, but when he has the teammates he has like Gasol and Bynum and is being doubled by their men, the smarter play is always to pass out of these double teams and not shoot.
Kobe is one of the best players to ever play this game and he will be remembered that way. But calling him the game’s best closer or one of the clutchest players of all-time isn’t entirely true.