Los Angeles Lakers: buzzer beater

Kobe puts up 43 and the game-winner at Drew League

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
11:04
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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If Kobe is sweating allegations of a San Diego church altercation, frayed nerves weren't evident on the hardwood. Bryant dropped by the Drew League gym on Tuesday, then dropped 43 -- I talked to league commissioner Dino Smiley, who disputed the Internet/Twitter tally of 45 -- along with a buzzer-beating game-winner while matched up against James Harden. Smiley said Bryant, whose offseason has included plasma-rich platelet therapy, looked quite good at Washington Park.

“He was fresh,” said Smiley. “His spring, his jump shot was nice. Getting to the basket. His jab steps and his foot work. Everything was very good.”

Obviously, the real proof comes after a season's worth of wear, tear and grind. Still, for those concerned about Bryant's ability to maintain health and effectiveness during a presumed 2011-12 season (my hand is raised), the Mamba looking like the Mamba is a welcome sight. And the sequence drifting left to gain separation was undeniably slick.

It was also pretty awesome seeing fans mob Kobe after the shot, even if I couldn't help but picture some overzealous Mamba-ite accidentally wrenching Bryant's newly PRP'ed knee, then living the rest of his life on the run under an assumed identity. According to Smiley, this explosive reaction was a Drew League first.

“We’ve had guys hit game-winners where their teammates run on the floor. Some of their friends may run on the floor. But that right there was mind boggling. That trumped everything.”

Buzzer-beater or walk-off RBI: What's your pleasure?

March, 11, 2010
3/11/10
8:52
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Jon Weisman, whose excellent Dodger Thoughts blog is part of the ESPNLosAngeles.com family, recently noted how Angelenos may be blessed to find themselves constantly entertained by Kobe Bryant's flair for the dramatic, but Mamba ain't the only sports local bringing the noise. Dodger left fielder Andre Ethier racked 13 game-winning hits in 2009, six in walk-off fashion. Even more impressively, four of those knocks left the yard.

Weisman compared the degree of athletic difficulty in canning a jumper vs. beating a pitcher for victory, plus the ensuing excitement. After heaping praise on both, he concluded "there's something more magical about the baseball walk-off hero – and something more real about the basketball walk-off hero."

Great way of putting it, but at the same time, I could just as easily see the adjectives swapped. It's hard to truly quantify what's the most "magical," "real," or just plain exciting way to secure a nail-biter win, but everyone's allowed an opinion. Thus, I'll ask the same of the Land O' Lakers faithful:

Which do you find most exciting, and why? A clutch bucket with scant seconds on the clock or an RBI to end the game?

Personally, I vote ribbie, which kind of surprises me. I like baseball, but not nearly as much as basketball. Given the choice of nine innings or four quarters, unless the baseball squads are just stellar (or my hometown Cardinals), or option b is something along the lines of Nets-Knicks, I'm considerably more likely to go roundball.

But viewed in a vacuum by itself, that isolated at-bat, a one-on-one battle between a batter and pitcher playing the game within the game, makes an eventual game-clinching knock as compelling as anything sports has to offer. As incredible as it is to watch Kobe stroke cord before the horn sounds, I find the heroics of Ethier and the like slightly more thrilling.

Both feats, however, remain equally remarkable.

Thoughts? And if you're moved most by a game-winning TD in the final seconds, a putt on the 18th hole to win a tourney, or something else from another sport entirely, feel free to offer those two cents.

Lakers links, Jan. 2: Kobe strikes again

January, 2, 2010
1/02/10
10:16
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
Really, should anyone be surprised anymore?

As a sports fan, sometimes it's important to compartmentalize in order to obtain the maximum amount of enjoyment from said fandom. Or perhaps it's best just to see the glass as half-full or better. Either way, without a little bit of from columns A or B, Friday night's 109-108 win over the Sacramento Kings at Staples, the second game the Lakers have seemingly stolen from Sacramento in a matter of days, one about as improbable as they come and fueled by Kobe Bryant's third buzzer beating shot of the still-young season, this one getting out of his hand with barely one-tenth of a tick on the clock, might seem less fun. (Click here for the highlight(s).)

Whatever fans might think about the rest of the game- I'll get there in a sec- the run Kobe is on these days is a remarkable one. He's is making a serious MVP statement, and there's nothing Lakers fans love more. (Outside of titles and perhaps a list of what we know about Kobe's clutchtasticness, the latter of which is provided here by the Register's Kevin Ding...)

Except maybe high caliber play, and as Andy points out in last night's recap, the Lakers only delivered for one half. Despite the second half heroics- L.A. held Sacto to 44 points while Kobe scored 27 points after a 3-11 start in the first two quarters- I thought the Lakers deserved to lose. ESPN LA's Dave McMenamin wonders if this run of Kobe-heroics is as much a symptom of the team's current problems as it is a testament to Kobe's incredible skill. I'd say so.

In the end, though, all that seemed left was for players and coaches on both teams to marvel at what it is Kobe does. All the damn time, it seems, to the point where even "the enemy" seems to believe it pre-ordained.

More Lakers and NBA news below the jump...

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.1
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.1