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Kobe Beats Heat at the Buzzer

Dec 5, 2009 – 8:43 AM
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Tom Ziller

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Kobe Bryant's reputation as a closer is a bit overstated, in that he just happens to take so many more crunch time shots than everyone else -- he's actually one of the least efficient stars in the clutch.

But Kobe has such a feel for drama, such an overwhelming competitive charisma that you can't help but think of him when you think of buzzer-beating shots. There's just something about a Kobe game-winner that electrifies the sport.

As such, Bryant's magical banked three to finish off Miami will find legend before long. To set the scene, Kobe had missed a long jumper down two with 24 seconds left. Quentin Richardson hit two free throws to give the Heat a four-point lead.

Pau Gasol and Dwyane Wade traded more free throws after a missed lay-up by Kobe before Derek Fisher came up with a huge three with four seconds left. Wade missed his first free throw after being intentionally fouled, but hit the second to set up a final, fatal possessions for the Lakers.

Then this happened.

To his credit, Kobe admitted how improbable the make was.
"It was the luckiest shot I've ever taken, by far," Bryant said. "It felt good, (but) I just couldn't believe this ball might go in on this shot."
There's the latest proof of the kinder, more cuddly Mamba. Even five years ago, Kobe would have walked off the court with a scowl and a slow nod, and would have insisted going glass was the only angle available, and that his beautiful mind sorted that out as he pulled up. (I prefer this Kobe, if that's not clear.)

The Heat deserve cheers for making a game of it -- no one has challenged the Lakers in two weeks. L.A. has three more games at home before setting out on its first protracted road trip of the season.
Filed under: Sports