Top 10 Lakers Moments of 2010-11
Clutch step-back jumpers from Kobe Bryant, gravity-defying slam dunks from Shannon Brown, bicep-kissing from Ron Artest after transition hammer dunks and three-pointers from ... Pau Gasol?
We assembled video highlights of these plays -- and some commentary on the side -- in our Lakers.com Top 10 plays of the 2010-11 season.
#1: Kobe Sends it to OT in Season Finale
April 13th, 2011 | Lakers 116, Kings 108
Was the final memory of NBA hoops in Sacramento really going to be of Kobe Bryant rising to drain a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation before ultimately leading his Lakers to an OT victory?
As it turned out … no. The Kings will be back in California’s capital. But in that moment, Sacramento’s fans were treating the game as a swan song, rising at full volume to cheer a furious 20-point comeback in the fourth quarter. L.A., down 99-96 after victory seemed assured mere moments earlier, was inbounding the ball on the Kings’ end, eight seconds on the clock. And, oh yeah, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference was on the line.
Fatigue had already settled in to a Lakers’ team missing Andrew Bynum (hyperextended knee), Matt Barnes (sore knee) and Steve Blake (chickenpox), as Phil Jackson had leaned heavily on Bryant (39 minutes), Pau Gasol (47) and Lamar Odom (46). The Lakers, just trying to survive, had turned to Kobe minutes earlier.
Legs heavy, Bryant had made only one of his previous six shots in the fourth quarter … but he wasn’t missing the tying triple after finding a bit of daylight thanks to Gasol’s screen, lofting a deep rainbow that nicked the back rim on its way through the net.
Newly invigorated, Bryant followed up by blocking Marcus Thornton’s game-winning attempt at the other end. Then in overtime, Kobe attracted three defenders before finding Odom for a dunk, and scored five points -- including a silly pull-up jumper over Thornton -- to seal the deal.
Late heroics were once again signed “Kobe Bryant,” and the No. 2 seed belonged to Los Angeles.
#2: Fisher's Buzzer Beater vs. Clippers
December 8th, 2010 | Lakers 87, Clippers 86
It wasn’t the first time Derek Fisher had hit a game-winning shot for the Lakers, nor was it the most important of situations.
His 0.4 desperation heave against San Antonio in 2004 comes to mind, as does Fisher’s massive fourth quarter in Game 3 against Boston in the 2010 Finals (a tad bit on the important side), but nonetheless, a tough runner in the lane to beat the Clippers in December was L.A.’s only last-second game winner of the season, a year removed from Kobe Bryant hitting several himself.
Early in the season it may have been, but L.A. was already tired. Andrew Bynum (knee) had yet to play a game, Lamar Odom had just eight points before fouling out and Pau Gasol was right around 40 minutes once again, the wear and tear of three straight Finals trips showing most obviously in the frontcourt, LAL being outrebounded 52-39 in the game.
Still, the Lakers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to steal a win, spurred first by a three-quarter court buzzer-beating heave from Shannon Brown to close the third. Brown combined with fellow subs Matt Barnes and Steve Blake (29 points, 14 rebounds in all) to chip the Clippers lead down far enough for a Kobe Bryant runner and then 19-footer in the final minute to draw L.A. within one.
Fisher took care of the rest.
#3: Shannon's Oop at MSG
February 11th, 2011 | Lakers 113, Knicks 96
Wait … he didn’t actually just smash that headed-for-New-Jersey pass through the rim … did he?
There’s not much to say from a contextual standpoint about Shannon Brown’s absurd showing of athleticism on Feb. 13 at Madison Square Garden.
But if we must: Brown used his huge vertical to rise far off the checkered floor, called upon his huge right mitt to corral the Steve Blake’s lofted pass, whipped out his elite body control to twist himself back towards the rim and finally added a knowing lil’ smile and wink after sending the ball through the basket with two hands.
Still, the dunk is kind of like a perfectly marinated steak, so much the better to indulge in than to describe.
#4: Odom's Three Consecutive Threes
March 31st, 2011 | Lakers 110, Mavs 82
On March 31, the Lakers weren’t anticipating being on the wrong end of a playoff sweep to the Dallas Mavericks, so an emphatic 110-82 beat down of the Mavs that put L.A. in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed in the West carried timely significance.
The victory was Phil Jackson and Co’s 16th in 17 games out of the All-Star break, and coincided with a five-game losing streak from San Antonio to pit L.A. just 2.5 games back of the Spurs for the top spot, plus two games ahead of Dallas in the loss column.
The game featured a fantastic hustle play on defense from Kobe Bryant (28 points) that set up a Ron Artest three, 18 points with 13 boards from a playing-big Andrew Bynum and five ejected players resulting from Jason Terry’s unnecessary shove of Steve Blake. But the turning point in the contest came courtesy of Lamar Odom, who buried three three-pointers in a one-minute stretch around the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, turning a 9-point LAL lead into an 18-point margin.
Odom, outstanding throughout, locked up Sixth Man of the Year honors by outplaying Terry in a big way with 16 points, 11 boards and three assists to Terry’s five points on 2-for-9 shooting before his ejection.
#5: Artest's Triple OT Hammer Dunk
March 22nd, 2011 | Lakers 139, Suns 137
Almost any play that ends with Ron Artest kissing his bicep is fun, but his flexing smooch after a hammer dunk in transition that happened to come in triple overtime was one of the most entertaining moments of the 2010-11 season.
With 1:53 left in L.A.’s marathon 3OT shot-making fest against Phoenix, Artest darted off his man to strip Steve Nash, streaking up the floor with Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat trailing the play.
Not exactly LeBron James or Dwyane Wade in transition on a regular basis, Artest turned a ton of heads when pulling out a powerful left-handed jam, putting the Lakers up 135-132 in a game they’d (finally) win 139-137. After finishing the kissing of his arm, Artest added two more of his 18 points.
That the game went to triple OT in the first place was due only to a crazy late barrage of three-pointers from the Suns, who trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half, but nailed triple after triple in the fourth quarter to finish with 17 on the evening. In fact, Phoenix had come one short of an NBA record from three with 22 makes back in November at STAPLES Center, meaning they dropped 39 in two games in Los Angeles. That’s a lot.
The win came in the midst of L.A.’s burst out of the All-Star break, serving as the team’s 14th win in 15 tries, and featured a season-high 42-point performance from Kobe Bryant (his 107th 40-point game of his career), who added 12 boards and nine assists. Lamar Odom had big numbers with a season-high 29 points, 16 rebounds and five dimes.
Bryant and Odom, however, failed to kiss their respective biceps in true Artest fashion.
#6: Gasol's Corner 3
March 6th, 2011 | Lakers 99, Spurs 83
After limping into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak, the Lakers came out on a mission that would characterize the Boston Bruins after a Vancouver Canucks cheap shot in Game 3 (minus the sheer vitriol, perhaps) of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Riding a newly-dominant defense anchored by Andrew Bynum and balanced scoring from Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Bynum and Lamar Odom, L.A. streaked to a 17-1 record out of the break, winning in many of the league’s toughest road arenas: Portland; Oklahoma City; San Antonio; Atlanta; Dallas; and Utah.
The 99-83 smashing of the Spurs was perhaps the most impressive, since San Antonio had been the NBA’s best team for much of the season, and beaten the Lakers in the team’s two previous matchups. But this time, L.A. stormed to a 37-15 lead early in the second quarter when Pau Gasol buried his first regular season three-pointer with the Lakers. The game was essentially over by halftime, at 65-37 for the Purple and Gold.
Bynum finished the game with 17 rebounds, Bryant scored 26 points and Gasol 21, Odom had six assists and L.A. a seventh straight win. The Lakers would keep up that pace for 11 more games, dropping only one (@ MIA), before finally running out of gas in the final two weeks of the regular season, losing five straight games for the first time since Gasol was acquired after determining that the Spurs could not be caught for the top seed.
#7: Shannon's Left Handed Throw Down
March 27th, 2011 | Lakers 102, Hornets 84
Back in the summer of 2006, Shannon Brown entered the Lakers’ practice facility for the first time. There to audition in front of the team’s brass during a pre-draft workout, Brown – fresh off his three-year career at Michigan State – showed off his ridiculous vertical jump, rising up some 44.5 inches off the ground.
Brown eventually made his way to the Lakers in February of 2009, coming over in a trade from the Bobcats, and it didn’t take long until he was showing off his crazy trampoline hops in Los Angeles. The aerial show has gone on.
One of his best plays from the 2010-11 season came against New Orleans on March 27, with 8:53 left in the second quarter. After coming up with a steal on defense Brown sprinted down the floor in transition, took off with the ball in his right hand, jumped and glided through the air as if hanging from a string like a Cirque Du Soleil performer. Still rising, and perhaps noticing a trailing Hornet (Aaron Gray), Brown switched the rock to his left hand, hung just a bit more and threw it through the rim.
Take a peek; it’s fun.
#8: Gasol's Triple Double
November 7th, 2010 | Lakers 108, Blazers 103
You know that Pau Gasol came to the Lakers in a trade with Memphis in February of 2008, and that it wasn’t a coincidence when the Lakers made it to three consecutive Finals from that point on. Critical to two straight titles, the Spaniard earned “Best Supporting” honors much to Kobe Bryant’s pleasure.
Now, here we are a year removed from title No. 2, out of a postseason in which no Laker seemed to struggle as much as Gasol. He symbolized the team’s collective fatigue and attrition from their deep playoff runs, and ultimately played far below his standards as Dallas swept L.A. out of the playoffs.
But has 2011 playoff recall made it too easy to forget that Gasol was selected to the All-NBA Second Team following the season, pitting him as one of the league’s top four big men? That he was again an All-Star and was in the early-season MVP race after a dominant start to the season?
Pau’s fantastic opening burst, with Andrew Bynum’s offseason knee surgery forcing him into big minutes, was perhaps most apparent in a Nov. 7 win over Portland. The 7-footer showed off his versatility with a 20-point, 14-rebound, 10-assist triple-double that pushed L.A.’s record to 7-0. He clinched the TD with a pass to Ron Artest with 3:10 still remaining in the third quarter, and showed off a bit further with a full-court assist to Lamar Odom for a dunk, plus an alley-oop throw down off the backboard from Steve Blake.
#9: Kobe Ices Game in Boston
February 10th, 2011 | Lakers 92, Celtics 86
Sure, it wasn’t 2009-10, when Kobe Bryant nailed a game-winning dagger every couple of weeks (actually, he dropped seven, so … every 11.7 games). But in fairness, that was a bit ridiculous…
That’s not to say Bryant didn’t have his moments this past season, like in the final minute of a tough regular season win at Boston’s TD Garden on Feb. 10. It was L.A.’s best victory of the season to that point, the first against one of the league’s top four teams.
With 49 seconds left on the fourth quarter clock, Bryant rose to drain a step-back jumper after freezing Ray Allen that proved the dagger in a 92-86 victory. Eight of Bryant’s 20 second half points came in the final five minutes of the fourth, after he’d scored just three first half points as the Lakers pounded the ball inside to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (24 first half points).
It was the 15th time in which Bryant scored at least 20 points in a half that season, surpassing Dwyane Wade by one, in a campaign he’d conclude with a scoring average of 25.3 ppg.
Los Angeles went on to beat the Knicks on the following evening, before dropping the final three games of the trip (@ORL, @CHA, @CLE), setting up the team’s 17-1 burst out of the All-Star break.
#10: Kobe Passes Hakeem
January 28th, 2011 | Kings 100, Lakers 95
Sometimes it’s difficult to put history into proper perspective when it’s happening right in front of your eyes.
But throughout Kobe Bryant’s 2010-11 season, NBA history seemed to happen once every few weeks, as he passed six Hall of Famers to move from 12th to 6th on the league’s all-time scoring list.
The list of those now a slot lower on the chart is not exactly short on talent: John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and finally Moses Malone. With the end of the regular season, only five players in the history of the game who have scored more points than Bryant.
Bryant passed some legends on jumpers, some on free throws. But his best play came on Jan. 28 against Sacramento, when he swiped a perimeter pass on defense, streaked up the floor and finished a one-handed dunk to reach 26,947 points, one more than Olajuwon.
“Kobe’s accomplishments speak for themselves,” said The Dream on a Lakers.com interview just before Kobe surpassed him. “His work ethic, his determination to be the best ... when you talk about Kobe, you talk about his work ethic and how great it is for someone to maximizing his potential. Kobe has reached his whole potential, and maintained it, pushed it as far as it can go … he’s just a great, great scorer.”