Kobe Bryant Game Winners: 2009-10 Edition
With how long the ball seemed to hang in the air, one might have gone up to the concession stand to grab a pretzel (salted, of course), before it hit the backboard and went through the net.
In the three months since that buzzer-beater, Bryant has won five more games for the Lakers in the final seconds of contests against Milwaukee, Sacramento, Boston, Dallas and Memphis, and nearly missed a game-winner in Toronto that would have made it seven.
Here’s a closer look at No. 24’s late game heroics:
Dec. 4 vs Miami
As described above, Bryant’s first game winner of the season was perhaps the most dramatic, a banked three from 27 feet with Dwyane Wade all over him.
Dec. 16 at Milwaukee
On the second night of a road back-to-back, the Lakers battled the Bucks for 48 minutes only to need an extra period when Bryant’s game-winning attempt over Charlie Bell rimmed out from 16 feet on the left side of the lane. The Bucks looked to have things well in hand when they jumped to a six-point lead (106-100) with 1:25 to go, but Kobe had other ideas. First came a jumper, then an and-1 layup, and finally a dagger jumper from nearly the same spot that beat the Bucks 107-106 at the buzzer. Kobe had scored the game’s final seven points, including the swished game winner over Bell, the Bucks unable to bring a double team since Phil Jackson had wisely chosen to inbounds the ball in the backcourt and let Bryant run up the floor and find his preferred spot.
Jan.1 vs Sacramento
With a rather sluggish team effort against a scrappy Kings team in the first game of the New Year, the Lakers found themselves down two points with 28 seconds left after Beno Udrih hit a tough shot in the lane. Shannon Brown had a chance to put the Lakers up one on a wide-open three-point attempt with 8.8 seconds remaining, but it missed, forcing L.A. to foul Ime Udoka. But when Udoka clanked both free throws, things were all set up for the exact situation that would happen in Memphis on Feb. 23 after O.J. Mayo missed two free throws. Sure enough, with 4.1 seconds to go and Sasha Vujacic inbounding, Pau Gasol caught the pass and patiently waited for Bryant to free himself of Sergio Rodriguez. With Rodriguez stumbling off Bryant’s cut, Kobe backtracked to the three-point line and launched a high-arcing triple that splashed the net as time expired.
Jan. 13 @ Dallas
There was a bit more time left on the clock when Bryant nailed his fourth game winning shot of the season over Josh Howard in Dallas in the middle of January (28.9 to be exact). As had become a theme for Bryant in 2009-10, he hit the shot in spite of an injury – back spasms this time – that had caused him to miss the entire fourth quarter of L.A.’s previous night loss in San Antonio. Moving poorly throughout a 35-minute effort, Bryant scored only 10 points, but with the game tied at 95 in the final minute, he still managed to hit the deciding 19-foot bucket in what turned out to be a 100-95 Lakers win.
Jan. 31 @ Boston
It hadn’t been Bryant’s best shooting game of the season by any stretch, as he’d struggled through nagging injuries to make 7-of-19 shots, but with 7.3 seconds left in the game, Boston certainly would have preferred that someone else were shooting.
To set Kobe up, Ron Artest had scored in the paint to cut Boston’s lead to 89-88 and then drawn a push-off call on Paul Pierce to give the Lakers the ball back with 27.5 seconds to play. Bryant was struggling to get any lift on his ankle after hurting it in the previous game at Philadelphia, coming up short on several jumpers … but after throwing a post entry pass to Andrew Bynum and getting the ball back right away for the reset, he took Ray Allen to the top of the key, created a small amount of space with a pump-fake, rose/faded away and nailed a jumper to put the Lakers up one. Allen then missed a three-point attempt at the other end to seal Boston’s fate.
Feb. 23 @ Memphis
In the final seconds of a hard fought game in Memphis, O.J. Mayo’s two missed free throws left the Lakers down two with the ball and 18.8 seconds to play. Ball in hand, Kobe Bryant drove past his man to the hoop, but was met my Marc Gasol with Rudy Gay collapsing. Gay blocked his layup attempt into the floor and off the basket out of bounds to give L.A. the ball back.
Phil Jackson then called a time out and drew up a pretty play that went from Artest out of bounds to Gasol on the near sideline, and then on to Lamar Odom at the top of the key. Gasol promptly set a pick on Kobe’s man, Gay, earning Kobe a great look at an open - if 27 feet - three-pointer that he absolutely drilled through the net without so much as a flick of the rim. With 4.3 seconds remaining, Mayo had a chance to answer at the other end, but Gasol’s help defense helped preserve L.A.’s victory and Kobe’s sixth game winner.