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Sunday, January 31, 2010
Kobe Bryant's top five shots of 2009-2010

By Andy Kamenetzky

With Kobe Bryant coming through yet again to ice a road win in Boston, we felt it only appropriate to list The Mamba's top five shots of the season. Granted, this may be a little premature since Kobe's pace, skills and flair for the dramatic likely means revisiting this concept again by mid-February. But we're all about walking on the wide side here at Land O' Lakers blog. So without further ado...

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
This cat is good for a big shot. Or two. Or, maybe, a billion.



5) A bummer start to 2010 was avoided after Kobe drilled a trey from 26-feet out to secure a 109-108 win over the Sacramento Kings and overcome what had been a largely sloppy effort at Staples.

Sacto, a terrible road squad, hit nearly 54 percent of their shots on the night, including a jaw-dropping 52.6 percent from distance. As I noted afterward, Lakers P.A. announcer Lawrence Tanter grew so tired of saying "Spencer Hawes," he began altering inflection just to remain engaged.

Thankfully, that iconic timbre was eventually used to inform fans their beloved purple and gold came out on top.

4) There's an old saying: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Well, we're not used to seeing Kobe fail to succeed, as was the case when his mid-range turnaround jumper over Charlie Bell at the left elbow drew iron at the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime. We are, however, used to seeing 24 come through at some point, as it was with his second go-around against Bell, busting out a virtually identical shot from nearly the identical spot just as the five bonus minutes expired.

The Lakers left Laverne and Shirley's hometown with a 107-106 victory, neutralizing big efforts from Michael Redd and Ersan Ilyasova.
3) Kobe described this game-winner --launched off-balance/off-the-wrong-foot-after-slipping/Dwyane Wade in his mug-- as "the luckiest shot I've ever taken." Maybe, but the players with the calm and skill to make seem pre-ordained are few and far between. If those are the kinda folks getting "lucky" to secure a 108-107 win over Miami, so be it.

Yet another "I don't believe what I just saw" moment courtesy of The Mamba.

2) It's been well established over the years Mr. Bryant is rarely if ever one to ever slow down in the face of poor shooting. Sometimes it's an inspiring trait. Sometimes it's nothing short of infuriating. Often times, by the time the dust settles, a little bit of both. However you want to label this afternoon's game-winner in Boston (Kobe had missed 12 of 19 previous shots), a one thing's for sure: It was a big shot in an even bigger 90-89 win.

1) Out of the five shots selected, this came with the most time remaining (28 seconds). Two Lakers (Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar) tacked on more points for the Lakers before the final buzzer. The Mavericks were as guilty of blowing opportunities in a 100-95 loss as the Lakers were blessed by cashing in. But for my money, this 18-footer in Dallas was Kobe's best of the season not because it broke a 95-all tie for good, but because of everything it represented.

Hobbled all game with back spasms, Kobe spent the first half allowing his teammates to handle the heavy lifting, then refused to force the issue during the second half even while putting a bigger stamp on things. To a man, the supporting cast came through for their injured star, and the big shot felt as much like a "thank you" note as a heroic moment. Save perhaps today's win in Beantown, it was the season's best display of collective character.

(Honorable Mention
: The behind-the-backboard H.O.R.S.E shot against Oklahoma City. Ultimately, it didn't amount to much more than "funsies." But as we often forget while slapping the weight of the world on every win and loss, these NBA basketball games are in fact supposed to be fun, right?)