Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Sarcastic Kobe Bryant: 'I'm not clutch'
By Dave McMenamin ESPNLosAngeles.com
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's last-second 3-pointer hit the back rim on Monday, sealing the Dallas Mavericks' 96-94 upset victory in Game 1.
Bryant has been the overwhelming pick for the last six seasons in NBA.com's annual general manager survey as the answer to the question, "Which player in the NBA would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?" filled out by the league's 30 GMs.
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Yet, Monday's miss was Bryant's fifth straight game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempt in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime of a playoff game that he didn't convert, dating back to Game 3 of the first round in 2009 against the Utah Jazz.
"I'm not clutch," said Bryant, his voice dripping of sarcasm after Tuesday's practice.
He was later asked why he attempted a go-ahead 3-pointer rather than try for the tie to send it to overtime while playing at home and Bryant simply said, "Because I was open."
Bryant missed two of his final three shot attempts and had a turnover in the final 2:42 of the game, although the shot he made -- a fadeaway jumper over Jason Kidd -- gave Los Angeles a 94-91 lead with 1:00 remaining.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson credited Kidd's late defense -- "He's very physical and he can ride him pretty well" -- but would not comment on whether or not Bryant's reputation as the Lakers' second coming of Mr. Clutch, Jerry West, is deserving or not.
"I don't remember the shots he missed [on Monday] at the end of the game, I think that really wasn't a factor so I don't want to discuss that," said Jackson.
For his postseason career, Bryant is 7-for-25 (28.0 percent) on potential go-ahead or game-tying field goal attempts in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. The league average on these shots over Bryant's career (since the 1997 playoffs) is about 28.1 percent.
The last time Bryant made a field goal in this situation was Game 1 of the 2008 Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Tied at 85, Bryant made a 10-footer with 23.9 seconds left as the Lakers went on to win, 89-85.
Bryant had seven game-winning shots during the 2009-10 regular season.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Alok Pattani of ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.