Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown didn’t hesitate to keep Kobe Bryant on the court tonight. The result? Two clutch, backbreaking fadeaway jumpers that sealed the victory and squashed the momentum of the scrappy Warriors squad.
Bryant hit a game-tying jumper from the left corner to tie the game at 97-97 despite leading by as much as 16 earlier in the contest. After an emphatic block from Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant answered the call once again. The All-Star guard drained a heavily contested fader from the left corner to put the Lakers up for good.
Bryant finished with 30 points in the 104-101 win. The longtime Laker also climbed the NBA record book, climbing past Michael Jordan into second for the most points scored with one franchise. With 29, 283 points he now trails only Karl Malone, who played 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz.
The Warriors showed extreme heart in the loss, fighting back from a big deficit against the heavily favored Lakers. Behind the stellar play of Brandon Rush, Golden State rallied back to tie the game, gaining the support of the Bay Area fans. Golden State management was questioned after trading away longtime-Warrior Monta Ellis, and the fans responded with aggressive boos towards owner Joe Lacomb during the jersey retirement ceremony for Chris Mullin.
Despite many believing that the team is “tanking” the remainder of the season to earn a high draft pick in a deep draft, the grit and heart from this team tonight seems to say otherwise. While playing with a mixture of rookies, D-League call-ups, and an injury-depleted starting rotation, the Warriors put up a fight against one of the better teams in the league. Rookie Klay Thompson was impressive despite guarding Bryant for most of the game, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Rush scored 21 of his team-leading 23 in the second half, and lead the Warriors back from what could have easily been a blow-out. Dominic McGuire showed promise, playing the role of point-forward on offense and yet guarding the Lakers bigs on the other end. Despite the end result, there were clearly some positive notes to take out of this game.
The Lakers scraped out a victory in a game which they seemed to be coasting in for the majority of the night. Andrew Bynum was benched after missing badly on a three-pointer (not something I thought I’d be typing any time this season), and was joking about it on the bench with his teammates. After so much praise about how Bynum has matured and progressed this season, this game still shows he has a long way to go.
But despite the near feel-good story, at the end of the day it was just Kobe being Kobe, fueling the Lakers like he has for the past decade.