2012-13 Top 10 Moments: #1

June 28, 2013 11:49 am PDT
Moment #1 - Kobe Bryant vs. Toronto

L.A.'s top moment of the 2012-13 season was really a series of moments with something in common: Kobe Bryant, and clutch shots.

On March 8 against the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers – in the midst of an intense push to try and get into the playoffs – had trailed throughout the entire game, frustrating themselves and the fans as they desperately tried to get over .500 for the first time all season.

Trailing by as many as 15 in the first half and nine heading into the fourth quarter, L.A. turned to Bryant, who started doing everything. He drained six of six free throws early in the fourth quarter and found Steve Nash for a triple that was his 12th assist, cutting Toronto's lead to 103-99 with 3:01 to play.

Then Bryant really got going:

1:40.0 - Drills a contested, pull-up, fading three-pointer from the wing with Raptors wing Alan Anderson draped to him to make it 105-103 Toronto.
0:29.0 - Swishes a fadeaway baseline three off the inbounds pass to cut Toronto's lead to one at 107-106.
0:05.0 - After two Kyle Lowry free throws put the Raptors up three, Bryant somehow, again, got himself free to drain his third straight three-pointer in 1:35 of game play, this one tying the game at 109 in the final seconds. To get some air space, Bryant had pumped-faked his way out of a double team by first shaking Amir Johnson, then rising over Rudy Gay's outstretched finger tips. When Gay missed a jumper on the other end, the game headed to overtime.

The dramatics weren't done, as Toronto worked its lead up to three in the final two minutes once again until it was Nash's turn to loft a game-tying triple, with the Raptors' D focused on Bryant, with 45 seconds left (115-115).

Dwight Howard then cleared his 13th rebound after a defensive stop, and Bryant gathered the ball at the top of the floor. Toronto sent an early double team from slow-footed Aaron Gray, and as soon as Gray was close enough out on the perimeter, Bryant turned the corner, suddenly looking at an open path to the bucket.

With 10.6 seconds on the OT clock, Bryant rose as he has so many times before and threw down a hammer dunk, giving the Lakers a 118-116 lead they'd protect to push their record to 32-31, at last above .500, building some momentum into the final playoff push.

Bryant finished with 41 points and 12 assists in the contest, with the three consecutive triples plus the OT dunk taking their place in his personal arsenal of greatest regular season games.