Lakers guard Kobe Bryant showed the Nuggets why he is the league's best closer.

Updated: May 21, 2009, 4:29 PM ET
By J.A. Adande | ESPN.com
LOS ANGELES -- Sure, we've seen this before from Kobe Bryant -- the 40-point night, the clutch shooting, the takeover mentality, him closing like Circuit City. Only this came in a different context. This one, which salvaged a 105-103 victory for the Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, followed 94 games that followed a summer of Olympic competition that followed a 103-game season. His 18-point fourth quarter followed his finger popping out and having to be forced back into place, another in a long accumulation of injuries. It came amid the slight signs of fatigue, such as the ball hitting the front of the rim even on some shots that went in. And it all came on the day his sensei passed on favored son status to Kobe's younger rival.


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