Poll question: How would you rank Kobe Bryant's game-winning shots?
It's fair to say most Lakers fans have moved beyond amazement regarding Kobe Bryant's clutch performances, and that includes his four game-winning shots so far this season.
After Bryant made one Wednesday in the Lakers' 100-95 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, I wondered which game-winning shot this season impressed the readers of the Lakers blog the most. That doesn't just mean which shot appeared most clutch and which play seemed more amazing to pull off. It also means which sequence seemed more unlikely to happen given the team dynamic during that respective game. It also means considering what odds Bryant had to overcome himself with the fractured index finger he has played through since Dec. 11, and now recently with his back spasms.
Watch the videos below after the jump and consider for yourself. I'd love to see your vote in the poll at the bottom and read your perspective in the comments section. Underneath each video is a brief synopsis of Bryant's game-winner and the circumstances of that game in case you need a quick brushing-up.
Jan 15, 2010: Lakers' 100-95 victory over Dallas Mavericks
Go to the 1:28 mark in the video above to see Bryant dribble past Mavericks guard Josh Howard and pull up on the block for a 19-foot jumper, giving the Lakers a 97-95 lead with 28.9 seconds remaining.
It capped a 10-point performance and a day that began as early as 5 a.m. His personal massage therapist took a red-eye flight from Los Angeles and gave Mamba four hours of treatment at his Dallas hotel. Bryant wasn't going to let anything, such as flaring back spasms, cause him to miss a game for health reasons for the first time since Dec. 2006.
Still, Bryant spent the entire second quarter laying on a thick cushion in front of the team bench and ended a nondescript first half with zero points and only one shot. But in the end, he made the shot that mattered the most, clinching the Lakers' victory.
"I thought I was done," Bryant told reporters. "That's all I wanted to do, was be able to run."
Jan. 1, 2010: 109-108 victory over Sacramento Kings
With the Lakers facing a 20-point deficit and the reserves being badly outscored, 28-11, the Lakers had no business winning this game. But they were in a position to do so because Sacramento's Ime Udoka missed two free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining.
After making contact with Kings guard Sergio Rodriguez, who slipped and fell, Bryant took a wide-open pass from Pau Gasol in the left corner. The shot swished in the net as time expired, capping a six-game surge in which he averaged nearly 40 points. Despite an avulsion fracture in his right index finger, Bryant had played all but 45 seconds. He also continued his hot shooting; during an 11-game stretch, he made 47% of his shots while taking at least 23 per game.Dec. 16, 2009: 108-107 overtime win @ Milwaukee Bucks
Bryant had a chance to end the game in regulation, but he missed a 16-footer from the left side as time expired in regulation.
In overtime, it appeared the Bucks were on their way to a win after Luke Ridnour's 15-footer gave Milwaukee a 106-100 lead with 1:25 left.
But that was enough time for Bryant to make some late-game heroics and make up for his missed shot in the fourth quarter.
He made a nine-footer and then scored on an awkward shot in the lane. The referees then called a blocking foul on Andrew Bogut. Bryant made the free throw, cutting the Bucks' lead to 106-105 with 48.6 seconds left in OT.
Mamba's game-winning shot was in the same location as his miss in the fourth quarter, drilling a 15-footer over Charlie Bell as time expired. Bryant finished with 39 points, including scoring the game's last seven.
Said Bryant to reporters: "I've taken that shot a thousand times." But that time was only five days after injuring his right index finger.
Dec. 4, 2009: 108-107 win over Miami Heat
The Lakers shot only 43% and made just 3 of 15 three-pointers until Derek Fisher and Bryant delivered clutch three-pointers in the final five seconds.
Bryant's came after Miami guard Dwyane Wade missed one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining. Mamba took an inbounds pass from Ron Artest near the left sideline, went toward the middle of the court and then shot a fall-away desperation 27-foot shot from the top of the key.
The shot banked in and capped a 33-point performance.
Said Bryant to reporters: "I didn't think I was going to make that shot."
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Photo: Kobe Bryant spent much of the second quarter on his back after attempting to play through back spasms in the first quarter. He ended up scoring all 10 of his points in the second half, including eight in the third quarter, to help the Lakers hold off the Mavericks, 100-95. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press.