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Lakers 94, Raptors 92: Kobe Bryant Rescues Lakers From Kobe Bryant

In a game in which the Los Angeles Lakers led by as much as 18 points, the purple and gold needed every bit of a heroic last minute of basketball from their fearless leader, Kobe Bryant. Kobe had six points, a steal, and an assist in the final minute to turn a 4 point deficit into a 2 point win. And Kobe needed to be fearless in order to accomplish the feat, because the Lakers were only in the position of needing that kind of heroic effort because Kobe Bryant put them there with a slew of terrible 4th quarter possessions in which Bryant dominated the ball. From the six minute mark, the Raptors went on a 12-2 run while Kobe missed 5 straight shots of increasing difficulty, and without this particularly brutal stretch of Hero ball, the Lakers might never have needed the actual Hero ball at the end.

Of course, the Lakers might never have needed it either if their effort wasn't so predictable after building up a big lead. The Lakers enjoyed one of their strongest shooting halves of the season in the 1st half, with outside shots being made by all the folks you wouldn't count with your lunch money on the line. Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes, Troy Murphy, Derek Fisher, Steve Blake, everybody on the team was hitting buckets in droves. They were up by double digits throughout the first half, until Toronto closed the gap at half time, and the predictably sluggish Lakers allowed Toronto right back in the ball game in the second stanza. The end was legendarily bad, and then it was legendarily good, and then it was legendarily strange, as Toronto picked up a rare (and deserved) 5 second violation on the in bounds play when the Laker lead was just 1 with 4 seconds to play.

In the end, the Lakers needed the win to salvage what has been a tough and disappointing road trip, and they got it. Is all forgiven of Kobe for the terrible lead in to the end game, because of the end game? That's a decision every Lakers fan has to make for themselves.