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Wolfgang Amadeus Kobe Rocks Boston

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And so it came to pass. A playoff-style hammer fight between the Lakers and Celtics - slow in pace, lots of stout defense, a frisson of charged hostility between the teams - left Kobe Bryant with the ball, the Lakers down one, 11 seconds left. To that point Kobe had been straining against the Celtic D to little effect. He'd missed 12 of 19 shots, few of those looks terribly good ones, and had committed four turnovers. It didn't appear to be his or the Lakers' day. But having trailed by 11 points earlier in the quarter, he and his boys had clawed back from the brink, and there was still a chance to steal the win.

Kobe drove to the free-throw line with Ray Allen guarding him closely. Pump-fake, pivot, fadeaway... swish. The city of Boston awash in silence. Sweet, delectable silence!

Kobe's cruise missile left 7.3 seconds and one Celtic possession to play. Eek! We were all dying, struggling to breathe. I know I was.

Boston ran a high pick-and-pop with Paul Pierce handling the ball. Ron Artest came over the Ray Allen screen, Kobe leaving Ray to double Pierce. That left Allen open for a three from the left wing, and Pierce kicked it over to him. Alertly and critically, Lamar Odom left Kevin Garnett to challenge the shot, which went just wide.

Lakers win, bitchez!! 90 to 89 was the final score. A game most exhilarating, and a sterling road win for an L.A. team whose resume was a bit light in that area.

For most of the afternoon, it didn't feel like we were in for a good outcome. An early 13-point lead went poof in the second quarter when Rajon Rondo went nuts against non-Kobe defenders. There were bad defensive rotations. A lot of guys were scrambling to cover up their teammates' blown assignments, which in turn left various Celtics open for dunks and uncontested J's. Andrew Bynum was the only dependable scoring option. Kobe early on couldn't find the right spots on the floor, and Pau Gasol came down with a case of Kwame Brown Hands.

After halftime, though, the Laker D found its footing. Artest, for the second straight game, came through with the defense he was brought in to provide. After stifling Andre Iguodala on Friday, he tightened up on Pierce in the second half today and made him work harder for his shots. He also forced a pivotal turnover with 27 seconds left in the game and Boston up one when he drew an offensive foul on Pierce. Yeah, Ron sold it to the refs, but Pierce really did use his left arm to clear out.

Bynum proved tonight that he's a game-changer against even the league's top defenses. When he got the ball, which wasn't often enough for our tastes, he powered to the rim with vigor. Gasol had a bad game. There's no getting around it. Thanks to Drew, it didn't cost the Lakers. It was impossible to watch the damage Bynum did to the Celtics today and not wonder how the 2008 Finals might've been different with him on the floor.

Once again the Lakers enjoyed some quiet but crucial output from the bench. By my rough count, the trio of Odom, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar used 14 possessions and generated 21 points. That efficiency was key to putting L.A. in position to win this one late.

However this Laker season unfolds, today's game will be remembered as a shining high point. There's way more to analyze than can be covered in my 600 words, so please dive in with your own thoughts. Video of the Kobe dagger is posted below for your repeated enjoyment.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

Lakers

87

18

0.30

73

0.19

53

29

51

54

29

72

1.03

Celts

86

21

0.26

79

0.27

53

30

51

55

28

71

1.03