0-for-15 start. 0-for-7 from the 3-point line. Zero points in three quarters. Worst shooting start to his career.
Cometh the moment, cometh the Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant had two big finishes in two separate games last week, continuing to solidify his reputation as one of the greatest closers in NBA history. Although he only made 3 of his 21 shots against the Hornets, he made the one that counted the most, a go-ahead 3-pointer (his first of the game) to give the Lakers the lead with 20 seconds left and lead them to a win. A few days earlier, he tortured the Warriors with a game-tying and another go-ahead basket in the last minute for another Laker win.
The Lakers inconsistent week was brightened by Kobe’s heroics, just like Nowitzki’s heroics brightened up an up-and-down week for reigning champions Mavericks, too. A day after losing to their Finals’ rivals Miami, Nowitzki also had his clutch moment by hitting an incredible game-winner against the Orlando Magic.
Here is a recap of all these games that were on Indian TV over the past week.
Wednesday: Lakers @ Warriors
Kobe was coming off a controversial fourth-quarter benching against the Grizzlies, and so made it a point to show his best against the Warriors in this match-up when the game came to its last minutes again. He hit two late shots to score 30 points and lead L.A. to a close, 104-101 win over their Pacific Division rivals. His efforts overshadowed a big night for the Warriors where three players (David Lee, Brandon Rush, and Klay Thomson) scored over 20.
Thursday: Jazz @ Celtics
Suddenly, the ‘old big three’ + Rondo are looking formidable again, winning seven of their last eight and shooting up to the top of the Atlantic Division. Leading the Celtic resurgence has been Kevin Garnett, who continued his stellar play in this game versus the Utah Jazz with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Pierce added 20 and Rajon Rondo had 14 assists as Boston played inspired defense to defeat the Jazz, 94-82.
Friday: Mavericks @ Heat
The Mavericks have been inconsistent all season, while the Heat have been unbeatable at home. It was the perfect recipe for Miami to get some more revenge over last year’s Finals loss. Six Miami players – led by LeBron James and Chris Bosh – scored in double digits as the Heat had no trouble blowing out the Mavs, 106-85. Dirk Nowitzki’s 25 points weren’t enough as Miami played tough defense on the rest of the squad to go 2-0 over the reigning champions this reason.
Saturday: Mavericks @ Magic
On the second night of their back-to-back Florida state tour, the Mavs looked to go down once again as they trailed to an energised Orlando side at the start of the fourth quarter. But the champs kept on chipping away behind Nowitzki's 28 points, and when the moment called, with the scores tied at 98, Nowitzki stepped up to hit game-winner with less than six seconds left on the clock to give his side an exciting victory.
Sunday: Hornets @ Lakers
Kobe Bryant had the worst start to his NBA career, missing his first 15 shots. His inefficiency was a boon for the struggling Hornets, who looked poised to steal a big game from right under the noses of their far more distinguished hosts. Pau Gasol (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Andrew Bynum (19 points, 10 rebounds) kept the Lakers close in the game, the late-game brilliance of Kobe gave them a lead, and it was Gasol and Bynum at the defensive end who helped seal the 88-85 win for the Lake Show.
…And the rest of the weekend
A couple of statement wins by the Oklahoma City Thunder – over the Lakers and the Bulls – helped propel the Thunder as championship favourites and helped seal Kevin Durant’s bid for the MVP award. The improving Celtics got another big game from Rondo to blow out the Miami Heat. And Linsanity ended – for now – in New York, as Jeremy Lin went down with an injury that is likely to keep him out for the rest of the regular season, and maybe longer. Carmelo Anthony picked up the pieces without him and Amar’e Stoudemire to continue the Knicks’ good run under new coach Mike Woodson.
On your TV sets this week: Wed – 76ers @ Heat (Ten Sports), Thu – Grizzlies @ Mavericks (PIX), Fri – Celtics @ Bulls (Ten Sports), Sat – Thunder @ Pacers, Rockets @ Lakers (SIX), Sun – Mavericks @ Grizzlies (Ten Sports), Bulls @ Knicks (SIX), Mon – Jazz @ Rockets (SIX).