Kobe Bryant won that game last night. (You can check out his miracle three here.)
Look, I don’t mean to belittle Pau Gasol’s tip back that tied the game with a minute to go or his pair of clutch freethrows to bring the game within two with nine seconds to go. I especially don’t want to overlook Derek Fisher’s step back three that put the Lakers within a point with four seconds left in the game. All of those plays were critical, vital even.
I’m also not going to argue that Dwyane Wade missed a freethrow after Fisher’s triple that would have ensured the Heat at least overtime. Hell, the guy went 12-18 from the stripe last night (a side note, Wade’s freethrow total nearly matched that of Bryant, Gasol, and Andrew Bynum combined (21), who, as noted in ESPN’s Weekend Dime make up three of the top five players in the NBA in scoring in the paint).
But I will say it again.
And because of his last second game winner, nobody is even talking about him slicing between three defenders and fading away to a hit running-bank to end the first half.
In fact, Bryant seemed to make it his mission to harass Wade and outside of about six times a high pick came and Wade made something happen via scoring himself or assisting on a bucket or getting to the line, Bryant accomplished his mission. Wade did a lot of his damage when matched up against Brown and Artest. Brown, while energetic and athletic, doesn’t possess the savvy necessary and Artest, who is a brute and can hang with bigger small forwards, doesn’t have the speed to hang with Wade.
The Black Mamba put full body pressure on Flash and forced him into tough shots or giving up the ball (though I’m still not sure why Bryant picked him up at half court and beyond).
And of course, he hit this shot. Watch it again.
Oh, it’s also where Sasha Vujacic can put up a statline of zeros across the board and yet still manage to have a +6 in the +/- department. (Hint, he was in during the last few seconds of the game when Fish and