Lakers 107, Bucks 106 (OT): Lakers stuff Bucks for display purposes...
(See that header? In the biz, we refer to it as a callback joke! Wit!)
It's a story Lakers fans have read over and over, but never tire of. Call it "Game Winners for Kobe Bryant." Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Kobe wrote another chapter, rising over Charlie Bell at the left elbow as the final seconds of overtime expired for what was as pure a turnaround jumper as can be. The result was more fuel for his legend and a 107-106 overtime win for the Lakers, a happy result in a game they really ought to have lost (or at the very least, one the Bucks could/should have won, depending on how you like to view this sort of question).
Watching the clip below, a few things stick out:
- First, one need not see the green "Bucks Basketball" banner at the bottom right to know which team's feed it came from. The guy on the broadcasting team yelling "Miss it!" basically spells things out.
- The reaction of the crowd again emphasizes that road games for the Lakers aren't always like road games for other teams in the league. Based on the cheers, had streamers dropped from the rafters, would it have shocked anyone?
- I still cannot fathom how easy it was for Kobe to get the ball, work it up the floor, find a sweet spot against Bell in the high post, and shoot. All in 5.4 seconds. No help for Bell, no attempt to force the ball from Kobe's hands. It's like handing the world's greatest thief the vault codes at night and wondering why there's no money left in the morning. After the game, Kobe gave PJ credit for the decision to bring the ball up full court and spread the floor... but still, if you're Milwaukee you have to find a way to send another guy. (UPDATE: More here on the final play.)
For Kobe, who scored LA's final seven points after the Lakers fell down six with 1:25 to go in the extra five minutes, it was a chance at redemption after he missed an almost identical look at the end of regulation that also could have ended it in favor of the visitors. (Generally speaking, granting Kobe Bryant a do-over isn't sound strategy.) After the game, everyone was in good humor. "I told him, 'Why did you keep us waiting? You had the same situation in regulation,' " Phil Jackson joked. "Really, he wasted a half-hour of our lives. I just don't understand that boy at times."
Bryant wasn't LA's only star. Pau Gasol recorded his first career 20/20 game, finishing with 26 points, 22 boards, four assists and four blocks. Gasol got the touches he'd been looking for and clearly took advantage. On the glass, it was his third straight game with 20+ rebounds.
Just as it was Tuesday in Chicago, the Lakers struggled at times, and (obviously) couldn't pull away from a Bucks squad that may be strong in their home building (the loss dropped them to 9-4 at Bradley Center) but is not of LA's caliber overall (the Bucks are now under .500 at 11-12). Milwaukee really did have every opportunity to win the game. They missed critical free throws down the stretch, cost themselves points with lane violations, and couldn't get stops when they needed them.
The Lakers, on the other hand, locked Milwaukee up over the final minute-plus of OT, giving themselves a chance to win. It wasn't pretty, it required a few breaks (one being the Kobe drive with under a minute to play in the OT where he drew an and-one on Andrew Bogut, a play that very easily could have, and probably should have, been a charge) but at no point did LA actually give up on the game, just as it was against the Heat before Kobe's previous buzzer dagger.
More game wraps:
-The box score notes five fouls and only three boards in 24 minutes for Andrew Bynum as his rebounding lull continues, but after the game PJ provided what could be a reason- illness. Bynum hasn't been feeling well, but while he admits his wind is down, to his credit Bynum wouldn't use it as an excuse for lower rebounding numbers.
-Adrian Wojnorowski of Yahoo! Sports writes that there's something in Kobe's story that could help Tiger Woods in the long run.
-PJ would like to see a two year rule for players heading to college before the NBA.
-TrueHoop's Henry Abbott notes Kobe gave a little something for everyone last night.