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Now that looks like the king of crunch time

3/5/2010

It has been said many times that Kobe Bryant is the best crunch time player in the world.

And he may well be.

But the argument is usually supported with highlight reels, which are a great way to wow people. But if you're trying to tell me he's the best at making buckets, you're not going to convince me by editing all the misses out of the evidence.

And if you poke around, the evidence is that he misses a lot.

Thursday night the Lakers lost to the Heat in overtime. And there was no really killer highlight of Kobe Bryant sticking a dagger in the opposition. So it won't commonly be presented as evidence of his killer closing.

But oh wow was he ever good.

In one of the closest games of the season, it's hard to imagine how Bryant could have been better. He made a layup with 5:54 left to bring the Lakers within four. That started run whereby everyone in the gym knew Bryant was option A, and Dwyane Wade was playing some of the toughest defense he can bring.

And yet over the last six minutes of regulation, and the five minutes of overtime, Bryant scored on nine of his 12 attempts to score. Over that period, he hit everything inside of 20-feet that he took. (He also had one offensive foul.)

So, no, the Lakers didn't get the win. That's basketball. You play your best and you still don't win every time. But if you're looking for evidence that Bryant is the guy who should take the shot with your life on the line, this game is one killer example, because just about all of his shots were going in.