You knew Kobe Bryant was going to try and show everyone how clutch he is, which worked out with a game winning shot while Jeremy Lin made himself noticed for the most part in a 88-87 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Roy Hibbert ended up giving the comedic performance of the night. Not just his shot to end the game in an attempt to win that hit the top of the board, but his whole demeanor. He got shoved by Carlos Boozer and acted like a child on the playground. He looked incredibly happy after blocking Boozer a few plays later. Kobe Bryant made a great face showing what he thinks of Hibbert’s behavior a few minutes later, caught on camera. Fun for the family.
After Bryant missed another potential game winning shot in the loss to the Grizzlies, the criticism came. As always with the mainstream media, it catches on to a trend a bit too late. That shot against the Grizzlies wasn’t that bad. With 0.6 seconds left on the clock, there wasn’t a lot to do but catch the ball and release it as quickly as possible. But it added to the other 12 misses he’s had in these situations, so everyone was talking about how Bryant isn’t clutch.
Defining clutch is difficult, and it might be a very random thing. Bryant takes every possible shot with the game on the line, Has been for years. So he has a lot of buzzer beaters and the like, but he’s missed a lot more than he’s made, and his efficiency in this situation is quite low over the years compared to a lot of other players who don’t always get noticed for their shot making ability when the pressure is on.
Jeremy Lin usually thrives in the fourth quarter when given the chance, but with Bryant in attack mode, he didn’t get a lot of opportunities late in the game to actually change something. He still finished with 10 points, making only 2-of-6 from the field. Lin needs to shoot more. The Lakers need him to shoot more, but on a night Kobe Bryant ends up being their most efficient shooter, they should be thankful they got the win.
Nick Young missed a lot, but also made some impressive ones, finishing with 22 points on 12-of-12 from the line. Bryant had 20 points on 7-of-14 from the field, once again coming in for the final six minutes of the fourth quarter. Bryant scored 9 points in the final quarter, but his 50% from the field isn’t because of better shot selection. He takes the same difficult shots, but he does pass up on some of them. He just happened to make ’em this time.
It’s good to see one thing: Jeremy Lin spent the entire fourth quarter on the floor. Byron Scott might not respect him a whole lot, but he understands, most of the time, that the Lakers are better off with Lin on the floor than Ronnie Price. Playing a lot next to Kobe Bryant obviously hurt him, but Lin made the right decision almost every time the ball went through his hands. The shots just didn’t drop as well as they did in the loss to Memphis.
Not a very good game overall for the Lakers, but any time you win while shooting only 38% from the field you can’t complain. The Pacers, as bad as they are offensively, remain one of the most difficult teams to score against in the NBA, at least in the regular season. The Lakers continue to improve little by little, but they can be smarter, as players and especially when it comes to the coaching staff. Jeremy Lin needs to play more than 22 minutes a game and get more to do. But when a team wins, everyone’s busy congratulating Kobe Bryant for being “clutch” and forget about the damage he does the rest of the time.