Bryant played to stereotypes by taking difficult shots in crunch time, and extra shots post-game.
Lots of good writing about Kobe Bryant today, after two demonstrations of his uniqueness: Some insanely difficult crunch time field goal attempts which went awry, this time, and more than a little overtime work. Thursday night Bryant demonstrated, more than a little, why he is who he is. And who he is is divisive.
On HoopSpeak, Ethan Sherwood Strauss writes: "Bryant’s gifts are his own, the media did not spawn this multi-faceted arsenal. Only the genius from within could become that artist who flings shots, without warning, from all angles -- in the way a tornado hurls cows. ... Much of the current Bryant myth-making revolves around his storied work ethic. I’ve long been weary of such hushed-toned accolades, because a) The descriptions -- save for this instance -- rarely come with specifics ... Perhaps I would buy the “KOBE BRYANT HARDEST WORKING MAN SINCE LENO” trope had not the “Kobe Doin’ Work” documentary tried so ardently to convince me. I believe that Lee’s film unintentionally revealed a man I could relate to, though. The Mamba was almost nerdy, uncomfortable in his own skin, nearly a nebbish. He flailed at conveying an imaginary charisma while befuddled co-workers blinked into the farce. For a moment I saw my own reflection in that stilted, stagnant, flowless lake."
Stephen A. Smith on ESPNLosAngeles: "When it counted, against a star-studded cast rendered helpless against size, length and heart all season, neither Lakers big man showed up, especially on defense. Ultimately, it left Bryant all alone to try to fend off the Miami Heat. He couldn't do it, and the Lakers bowed 94-88 on Thursday night, the second time they've done so in as many meetings with the Heat this season, reminding everyone what life looks like for Bryant when he's virtually alone to shoulder the burden. 'We didn't get the job done,' Bryant said, clearly perturbed, after the game. 'Whatever you do, you just can't give up points in the paint. You just can't do it. We did, and you saw what happened. Damn!'"
John Hollinger (Insider): "In L.A.'s last white-knuckle game, in Oklahoma City two weeks ago, the same thing happened. Down the stretch Bryant shot the ball five straight times -- all tough, contested shots -- and made only one of them. But because L.A. held the Thunder scoreless over the final 2:01, the Lakers prevailed."
Brian Windhorst on ESPN's Heat Index: "The Lakers were not at their best. Bryant struggled shooting after the first quarter, tossing up some wild shots in the fourth quarter while seething he couldn’t get a few calls from the officials."
Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated: "This is the type of game most ardent Kobe-backers will forget the next time someone revisits the topic in detail. And yet the only one of his plays down the stretch I have a real problem with is the three he jacked from the left corner with a full shot clock, about 1:05 left in the game and the Lakers down just 90-88. Kobe missed and later claimed Dwyane Wade fouled him. I’m sorry, but that’s a horrible shot. It was clearly a set play off an inbounds pass, but it looks to me like that three-pointer is only one of many options -- and one to be taken only if it presents itself nicely, which it did not, given Wade’s fantastic defense. Kobe arrived in the left corner after curling off a screen from Lamar Odom, so the initial action is designed to get Bryant open. But if you watch the play closely, you’ll see Odom popping out so he was wide open at the three-point line, Ron Artest cutting baseline and Pau Gasol darting over to the right side, ready to set up a two-man game with Derek Fisher if the ball swings there. There appear to have been other options on this play, and Bryant ignored them. ... I have little issue with the super-long three Kobe took with about 20 seconds left and the Lakers down 92-88. The Lakers needed points, quickly, and the odds would have remained stacked against them even had they gone for the quick two/intentional foul strategy. That might have been the smarter play, but Kobe’s shooting at that point isn’t as bothersome, to me, as his previous three-pointer."
Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook finds Bryant and Gasol culpable in giving up Dwyane Wade's layup with a minute left that put the Heat up four: "I give credit for the Heat setting this play up (using an off ball screen to get Ron Artest trailing the pick and roll), I put more blame on the Lakers (especially Gasol and Bryant). They got abused by Wade twice in a row by Wade going away from the screen, so they should have been ready for it, anticipating it, and in position to defend it. Instead, Wade is able to get to the rim and clinch the game. In my opinion, the Lakers should have definitely been prepared for it."
Am I the only one shocked and awed at Kobe's shot selection in last 3 min? It was as if Henry Abbott paid him under table before the game
Kobe Bryant, back on the floor more than an hour after the game ends, working on his shot http://twitpic.com/48cen3
Point worth noting: Heat did have private practice court for Kobe, which would have inconvenienced far fewer working at arena. #allforshow