One word for L.A.’s dramatic fourth quarter comeback win on this Tuesday in Houston:
Kobe hit a deep (27 feet), nasty bomb to deliver another Lakers victory.
“You almost expect it, but you definitely don’t take it for granted,” said Vladimir Radmanovic of Kobe’s late-game heroics. “That was anything but an easy shot.”
After L.A. came back from a five-point fourth quarter deficit to take a two-point lead in the final minute, Shane Battier somehow gathered a loose ball – after Derek Fisher had barely missed a steal – to fire a three and give Houston a one-point lead with 47.9 left on the clock.
Then came Kobe’s heroics.
Battier draped himself to Bryant on the other end as the MVP took two dribbles, passed to Derek Fisher and got the ball back immediately 27 feet away from the hoop with plenty of time on the shot clock. Staring Battier in the face, Kobe murderously rose up and rained a triple over the Duke grad’s outstretched hands. It wasn’t hard to believe that Bryant would drop such a bomb, just as it wasn’t hard to shake one’s head in amazement.
That was just silly.
While Bryant rightfully draws the lion’s share of praise behind his game winner and game-high 33 points, L.A. certainly benefited from Lamar Odom’s gutty effort. Nursing a sore to quite sore bone bruise in his knee, Odom managed 10 points, four dimes, four assists and a block, but his numbers didn’t due his place in the game justice. His defense was crucial particularly down the stretch, when he shut down a hot Carl Landry and helped Pau Gasol with Yao Ming, twice forcing jump balls in the final minute, the second of which Ariza won over the 7-6 Yao. Odom also scored a big bucket with 2:35 left to put the Lakers up four, completing a nine-point turnaround in the period.
Alas, after Bryant’s triple, Alston drew a foul with 9.6 seconds left, but unforgivably missed both free throws, before Gasol made 1-of-2 to put the Lakers up three with 7.5 seconds remaining. Another unforgivable mistake for Houston came next from Yao, who collected a pass five about five seconds left, and instead of kicking the ball out for a game-tying triple, turned and shot from 16 feet with a second left in the game. The play was oddly reminiscent of Jeff Foster’s inability to get Indiana a shot on Friday night with the Pacers trailing L.A. by two.
As such, L.A. earned another dramatic victory just two days after Andrew Bynum’s putback against the Heat on Sunday and Bryant’s free throw line jumper beat Indiana on Friday night to push their league-leading record to 31-6.
A few numbers before the plane heads to San Antonio.
Consecutive shots hit by Trevor Ariza, including two threes, before he missed his final attempt in the fourth quarter. Ariza finished with 14 points, two better than the 12 put up by Vladimir Radmanovic on 5-of-6 shooting. That’s 11-for-13 for the two small forwards.
Turnovers from the Lakers, certainly key to their victory.
Free throws taken by the Rockets, while the Lakers managed to get to the line 24 times.
Points from Pau Gasol, who struggled offensively for the second consecutive game for the first time this season. Gasol did block two shots, including a key swat of Carl Landry in the final minutes.
Rebounds from Yao Ming, who added 19 points and three blocks.
Career-high points from former Lakers draft pick Von Wafer, all in the first three quarter.
Minutes played by Andrew Bynum due to foul trouble, limiting him to 11 points and just one rebound.
Shooting percentage, collectively, for Houston point guards Rafer Alston and Aaron Brooks. With Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic out, that position had been a concern heading in, but Derek Fisher more than held his own in nearly 39 minutes.
Shots needed by Kobe Bryant to get to his 33 points. Bryant has been on fire for the better part of a month, and though he struggled with his shooting for much of the game, he certainly turned it on when it counted down the stretch.
The attendance at Houston’s Toyota Center, the largest crowd in the arena’s history.