March 16, 2007, is the date, just a few months before Kobe made his public request for a trade, and around this time the Lakers are hovering around .500 at 33-32 with 17 games to go. This record was good enough to be around 7th seed for the playoffs, which is where they ended on the year before getting knocked out by Phoenix in the 1st round for the second consecutive year.
This game was a classic example of Kobe doing Kobe things, whether you agree with all of them or not, this game he got it done. Finishing the game with 65 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and only two turnovers as the Lakers pulled out an Overtime victory 116-111. Kobe got these 65 points going 23-39 from the field ** Good for 59% ** 8-12 from the 3-point line and 11-12 from the free throw line. Kobe ended up scoring 24 of the Lakers 30 4th quarter points, and 9 of the 18 overtime points while hitting clutch shot after clutch shot in the process.
Example #1: This came on early in the second quarter and showcased Kobe’s open court skills as he attacks 3 Portland defenders for the transition bucket plus a foul.
Portland does a good job getting back in transition, with Kwame the only one down the court with Kobe against 3 Portland defenders. Kobe sees a gap middle and hits it ** Most coaches would forgive attacking a 2 on three fast break, being prime Kobe is the one doing it**.
As Kobe gets to the three-point line, his defender has his feet slightly out of position after Kobe hits the hesitation move to set up his drive to the middle. Although Portland has the advantage numbers wise, there is a gap that Kobe sees and attacks as Kwame drags his man into the paint by attacking the rim.
Kobe is able to hit the gap he saw, but by the time he is in the paint, the two trailing defenders have recovered, making Kobe take a shot over three defenders. While he goes up for the shot we see his gravity how every Portland player is staring right at him ** Most teams could get away with doing this during the entire season**. Kobe has Mo Evans open on the wing, but Kobe already in attack mode.
As Kobe goes up for the shot his momentum keeps him going left, but as he goes up begins to fade, which gives him the extra space to get the shot off. Mo Evans is still open on the wing, but Kobe nails it anyway over 3 Blazers and gets a foul to top it off.
Example #2: With just under 2 minutes left in the 4th, the Lakers are staring at a 7 point deficit, this shot was the start of a late barrage that stunned Portland and got the Lakers back in the game.
Smush tries to get the ball to Kobe, but Brandon Roy does an excellent job of denying him ** Much to the frustration of Kobe **and goes to his second option, which is Lamar flashing to the middle to accept the pass. Once Lamar flashes up Kobe begins to cut towards the left wing.
Lamar does an excellent job of screening Roy, who decides to go under the screen set, which gives Kobe an extra second to square up and get a good look at the basket. If he had trailed behind Kobe there is a solid chance Kobe would not have had enough space to get a shot off, and also would have pushed him towards Aldridge for a double.
It looks like Aldridge is hanging far too deep into the paint, so there was no chance that he was going to contest Kobe’s shot, giving him an extensive open look. Kobe does a great job catching the pass ready to shoot, squaring up his feet and shoulders as he is getting the bounce pass from Lamar.
Example #3: Kobe nails another three to cut the Blazer lead from to 1 with just under a minute left in the game.
With Mo Evans taking it out, Kobe lines up on the right block, with Kwame, Smush, and Lamar forming a triangle near the three-point line. Evans man does not even bother guarding the ball, instead sags back onto Kobe making it impossible to get him the ball.
Evans gets the ball to Smush who heads for the left wing, and Lamar setting a high screen for him. After inbounding Evans leads to set a down screen for Kobe, with Kwame cruising down there as well.
Odom flares back to the three-point line as Smush heads down to the baseline, with both Blazers going with Smush,** Better communication could have kept the ball with Parker or made the swing pass Lamar is about to make a little harder. ** allowing Lamar to swing the pass to Kobe without pressure. Kobe runs off the double screen ** Although Kwame didn’t do much screening” to catch the pass.
As Kobe shoots out to the wing, his man cheats out to attempt the steal but his timing is off, and he misses. Because of the gamble, this gives Kobe another full open look at the basket and cuts the lead to 1.
Example #4: Kobe hits his 3rd three in a row to tie the game at 98 with 17 seconds left.
Lakers have the ball under their basket with Kwame as his only option to inbound the ball. Kobe gets the ball to Kwame, who does do an excellent job of screening Kobe’s man, giving him a little more space to head up the sideline. Randolph begins to step up in an attempt to cut off the sideline for Kobe, in hopes to turn him back baseline where a double team in the corner is possible.
Randolph makes it over to the sideline, but is a split second too late, as Kobe is able to shimmy his way around Randolph to get a solid look at the basket.
As soon as Kobe gets all the way around Randolph, he plants his left foot aimed with the basket and has his shoulders lined up as well so he can go straight up once his right foot comes around. Randolph is in a decent position to contest, and the other Portland defenders are doing a great job staying in place. Kwame is rolling down the baseline, but Roy does a good job recovering after Randolph switches. While Lakers aren’t doing themselves any favors with Smush hanging around at half court, and Lamar hunched over on the opposite wing not even looking like a threat to score.
Kobe has a slight fade to his shot from his momentum, which gives him slightly more room to get the shot off, but as you can see still has plenty of daylight not to feel rushed. The ball goes in, and the game goes to overtime.
Example #5: Kobe hits a correctly guarded, almost impossible shot fading out of bounds to give the Lakers a three-point lead with 50 seconds to go.
Mo Evans initiates the play from Smush with the ball in the center of the court, looking to hit Kobe on the wing, but his defender does a great job denying him the ball. Evans swings in back to Smush, and Lamar flashes up from the low block to the wing, clearing out a large chunk of the court.
After Evans swings the ball, he and Kwame set up a staggered screen for Kobe to cut across the lane, and Lamar gets the pass from Smush on the wing. Evans does a great job with the first screen, but Kwame’s second part of the stagger is lazy ** Like most of his screens have been this game **. Kobe is able to make it through the lane with enough space to catch the pass in the corner from Lamar.
Kobe catches it in the corner with Roy all over him, and Aldridge leaving Lamar to trap Kobe in the corner. Kobe does have Lamar and Smush open as outlets, but Kobe decides to spin baseline away from the double trying to turn the corner.
Roy does a great job of cutting off the sideline, and Aldridge also does an excellent job making sure Kobe can’t split the double team or turn back up the sideline. At this point, Kobe looks dead in the water with 6 seconds left on the shot clock.
Once the sideline is cut off ** And Roy does a nice little flop ** Kobe spins away and back towards the sideline, right into the Aldridge double. Right after the spin, Kobe goes up fading out of bounds with Aldridge hanging all over him, but because Kobe went up so quickly after the spin with a fade, he has just enough space to get the heavily contested shot off. Smush is wide open at the top of the key ** looking like he is going to get a pass ** but Kobe was never going to pass this shot up.