It took a Los Angeles Lakers buzzer beater to beat the cross-town rival Clippers, as Derek Fisher ended the game with a lay up driving left, lofting the ball over the outstretched arms of DeAndre Jordan as time expired. That was Fishers 3rd buzzer beater since 02-03 season, trailing only Kobe Bryant with 6, the most in the NBA.
Coming into the Chicago game, Bryant needed 21 more points to pass John Havlicek at 11th on the all time scoring list. He is currently 2nd in the NBA in scoring at 26.6ppg, and at this pace will pass Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, and possibly former teammate Shaquille O’Neil, who currently sits in 5th place all time with 28,434 points and counting. If Bryant scores twenty or more points this game, he will become the all-time leading scorer playing on one team his whole career.
The Bulls Have not won a game in this series since December of 2006, which makes seven straight losses. Kobe has had his way in those games averaging a cool 24 points. After the Chicago game, the Lakers five remaining road opponent’s have a combined record of 37-71 on the season; this is their last game versus a team over .500, until the Christmas day match-up against the Miami Heat.
In a pre-game interview with Bryant, he was asked by Mike Wilbon of ESPN about the play of Derrick Rose, Kobe responded by saying “I can tell when a player truly wants to be better, when a player truly wants to improve, and I respect that about him. I admire that because it was a quality I had when I was growing up. I see improvement from his game from last year to this year. He has the long-range ball now, he can pull up off the dribble and shoot, him getting to the rim obviously goes unquestioned. Seeing that improvement shows me that he has put the time into the gym and I certainly respect that”
Rose ended up being a hand full as he dueled it out with the Lakers for the entire contest, he’s definitely one of the fastest players in the NBA, showing it time and time again on the fast break. He really keeps the defense on its heels, with crafty penetration/hesitation moves. Kobe opened up with a nice pick and roll, he felt the double coming and assisted to Odom for the dunk. A few plays later Bryant grabbed a rebound, dribbled the length of the court, made one hesitation move and went baseline for a thunderous dunk, which ended up capping an early 10-0 run. Bryant actually had a few nice dunks, both off great back door cuts. He sets his defender up so well, makes them think he wants to catch the ball at the top of the key, then jab steps and cuts hard to the basket. Bryant may be one of the most overplayed guys in the league. Everyone wants to be a Kobe stopper, something Bryant obviously loves to take advantage of. The defense on both sides was pretty stout in the first half, as the halftime score ended up being 36-32, with the Bulls going on a 17-3 run to end the half, with Bryant only shooting 3-9.
Kobe came out looking for easy baskets to start the third quarter, as he floated in the lane for a ten-foot shot over Bogans, after a tight curl. On the next three possessions Bryant went to the post, all being positive plays. Two patented fadaways, and a nice dish to Gasol for an easy lay up. Kobe felt the double and slipped the pass, they worked well together this game, as they seem to really have a high level of trust right now. The ball goes back and fourth between those too effortlessly, it’s a beautiful thing.
Bryant knocked down his first three-point attempt of the night from the corner with 8 min to go in the fourth, this was a critical shot because Chicago was running away with the game, it brought the Lakers to within 5 points. The Lakers could not cut back into the lead and lost by 4. The usual three for the Lakers stepped up, Kobe finishing with 23 (Passing Havlicek for 11th on the all time scoring list), Gasol 21 pts, and Odom 18. It was a tough match up for the Lakers front line just like it was a few weeks ago in LA. The return of Bynum is really going to relieve some stress in the paint and help the Lakers bigs bang less. Lakers look to get back on track Sunday when they take their talents to New Jersey.