Kobe Bryant kills crunch time

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
11:45
AM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
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Forget the tough game-winning jumper. The steal and assist to Metta World Peace was the play that really impressed me. Don't forget, steals are far rarer than made buckets, and quite possibly more valuable -- in one instant, they feature both a perfect defensive stop, possession, and almost always a very high-quality scoring opportunity. All that was precisely what the Lakers needed to beat the Raptors. And Bryant, looking nimble as hell on those knees, flew down the court and had his own opportunity to score, but made the extra pass for the easier Laker bucket.

Money.

I go to some trouble to point out Bryant's many instances of choosing bad shots over open teammates in crunch time. Only seems fair to acknowledge he did something beautiful here. And, yes, he hit the highlight, difficult long 2-pointer to boot.

As for the hyperbole about what happened in this game, from Mike Brown's "When you've got a guy like Kobe Bryant, you're always going to give yourself a chance," to World Peace's saying he was never worried about losing because of Bryant etc. ... That's just mythmaking. I'm glad they're all on the same page, but the truth is the Lakers lose games like this, on shots like that, all the time. The Lakers, in fact, are not particularly good in crunch time, period, and never have been for any extended period. Bryant shoots a ton with the game on the line, but, like all players taking tough shots, usually misses.

I'd prove the point by tallying up Bryant's makes and misses in crunch time on this very road trip (for instance) -- the rate is abysmal. But it would only seem like sour grapes, and I bear the man no ill will. Just don't want to get the lesson confused.

Hearing Brown and World Peace makes you think every team needs a guy like Bryant in crunch time, but the truth is only a really good team could withstand the inefficiency that comes from so many difficult attempts.

But he made the big shots this time. Hats off to him.

Henry Abbott | email

TrueHoop, NBA

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