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NBA Finals, Lakers Suns Game 6: When the going got tough, Kobe got going

May 30, 2010, 12:13 AM EDT

Bryant_airplane.jpgWhen asked “Kobe or LeBron?” my answer the last year has been “LeBron for the first 42 minutes of the game, Kobe for the last six.”

Saturday night is exactly why.

Kobe is the best closer in the NBA. Kobe is better at making tough shots than anyone in the NBA. Kobe thrives in pressure better than anyone in the NBA.

That was all on display in Game 6. After the Suns made a dramatic run to cut the deficit to three — Sasha Vujacic will be riding home with the luggage on the Lakers flight — Kobe Bryant took over. Nine points in the final two minutes. He sealed it. He was the closer. He is the reason the Lakers won 111-103.

“What can you say about Kobe?” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “There’s an intense game going on and you almost have to laugh at what he does. I thought we played good defense on him and he just hit tough shot after tough shot.”

The Suns did play great defense. But Kobe made the two signature shots of this series.

The first came at the two-minute mark in the fourth and the Lakers up just three. Los Angeles isolated Kobe on the right wing and the Suns came with the hard double of Grant Hill and Channing Frye. Kobe spun with a quick step right but it didn’t create much room so Kobe just elevated with two men in his face and hit the 21-foot jumper.

Then with 35 seconds left, and the Lakers up just five, Kobe had the ball up high on the right side against Hill and took two hard dribbles right, got no real space but elevated anyway and drained a 23-foot jumper (with his foot on the line).

Then the fading away Kobe patted Gentry on the behind playfully, smiled, and did an airplane run down the court.

A plane that flew the Lakers to the NBA Finals for three straight years.

There wasn’t anything the Suns could do, there is no shame in how they played. This is what Kobe does. He is a cold-blooded assassin. He thrives when it is all on the line. This is why the Lakers are champions. Kobe is why they have a chance to be again.

“He is the best player in basketball. I don’t even think it’s close,” Gentry said.

Not in the final couple minutes it’s not.

  1. Tim Pilgram - May 30, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    Finally the NBA Finals have arrived and it’s the historic match-up of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Boston Celtics. Personally, I think what happened two years ago can be written off. Here’s proof with a prediction (and a gallery of the Lakers vs Celtics Cheerleaders):
    It’s not that I don’t believe in Rondo and the big three (who are honestly ‘the final four’ now) but lets be honest… Kobe, Gasol, Artest, Bynum, Odom, Fisher.. I don’t think I’ll be along when I say congrats Los Angeles …

  2. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 30, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    Now where are those muchachos who would trash talk the Lakers? Fakers who?

  3. Lakers4Lyfe - May 30, 2010 at 1:48 AM

    KeBron could learn something. I disagree with the writer; sorry Kurt. If Kobe made the same tough shots early in the game and is a better all around player. GREATNESS comes with consistancy, and stepping up in the playoffs. Something Kobe always does and LeBron is a no show for … That’s a fact. Look at LeBron’s playoff numbers, which actually dropped again over what he had done earlier in the playoffs and the season. Up and down each game. One could argue that was a coaching problem … maybe. But Kobe IS the best player in the NBA; no one can argue that after tonight. Age, which you, and other writers made a huge deal about, is a non factor. Why? 31 isn’t old. Half of LeBron’s career is over. Thiink about it. 7 seasons gone without a ring and maybe 7 more to go. Think about that for a second. As much as you want, the crown hasn’t yet passed. Kobe is still the king, as he has proven in this series and 10 of the last 11 games, with 30+ and 1 short of triple doubles in in the last 4 of 5. Kobe really is the greatest (sinceJordan), and all you haters can keep dreamin’. That’s why he makes $30 million a year for the next three years. He is peaking now in the playoffs, where it matters … and Celtins better watch out. Time for King Kobe to dish some payback. Lakers in in 5 or 6. Oh, and in case you are following my personal numbers, I haven’t been wrong on any series this season. NBC should pay me to write this. See you Thursday in LA Celtics. Good luck; you’ll need it.

  4. Ron - May 30, 2010 at 1:49 AM

    If Gasol plays the way he did tonight, Lakers are in trouble. Sheesh, he was absolutely BRUTAL tonight.
    But hats off to Artest and Fish, who stepped up. No need to even mention Kobe. That man is in a different stratosphere.

  5. DougTucson - May 30, 2010 at 2:43 AM

    Kobe just does whatever necessary to win. Tonight that included shots that no one else in the game could make. And he does that game after game, just upping the ante when the going got tough. Salute!

  6. SurferDude - May 30, 2010 at 2:51 AM

    King Kobe is the real deal and Lebron is just a hype that should be brushed aside. His two MVP trophies now weigh just a few ounces. They are meaningless.

  7. Sage - May 30, 2010 at 3:17 AM

    Not at ALL close. Last minutes or first. Youre an idiot. Look at the #s.

  8. linda zimmerman - May 30, 2010 at 3:22 AM

    Kobe to Lebron: “You’ve got the trophy(MVP) but I walk the walk and somtimes I can fly!”

  9. Karl - May 30, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    It wasn’t really Gasol’s fault, the Suns were constantly doubling him on AND off the ball. They were forcing him to give it up every time he touched it while also daring Ron to shoot; hence, the lines the two of them put up.

  10. nimble - May 30, 2010 at 7:21 AM

    Kurt ignite the blaze however you want,Kobe is the real MVP for 5-6 years in a row,send whatever advanced crap that you have.Kobe=MJ=Kobe.
    I know you will miss him when he is done..

  11. terry - May 30, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    When the game, the SEASON, the CHAMPIONSHIP is on the line the GREAT ones DEMAND the ball – Bird, Magic, Jordan, Kobe and a few others. LeBron has the talent to be one of them but he hasn’t done it yet.
    And until you HAVE done it, you HAVEN’T done it.
    Can he? Maybe some day we’ll find out. But – he ain’t done it yet.
    I would LOVE to know what was going through Lebron’s mind if he was watching last night’s game.

  12. Omnius - May 30, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Kobe made Lost Suns Set last night with yet another awesome closing performance, he’s the true King of the NBA! Nash and the Suns played tough and deserve accolades for pushing Kobe, Artest and the Lakers to greatness! Time for the Lakers to ride Air Kobe, the NBA’s Championship Airline!
    The more the Lakers saw that girlie zone defense the more they learned how to pick it apart. The Suns learned the hard way, No Rebounds No Rings! Ron Artest has arrived on the offense at the perfect time. We Love LA! Beat Boston!

  13. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 30, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    King with Four Rings going on five.
    That’s the Real King. Where’s LeBron now with his back to back MVP’s? King James? Oh please. Jester James more like it.

  14. ken - May 30, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    This writer is a joke because how can you compare Kobe with Lebron. I am not a Laker or Kobe fan but do marvel at how Kobe does what he does every year. Kobe is the greatest player in the player in the Planet right now and Lebron is not even close…the guy has the best skill, footwork, will power and concentration to winning a game…It is a Joke comparing Lebron to him.

  15. Ed - May 30, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Ken, Agreed completely. There is no comparison, Kobe is the best player in the World. The writer is a joke.

  16. ocgunslinger - May 30, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    I have to agree with the many experts that Bryant is one of the all time greats in this game. It is difficult to compare generations as the game has changed dramatically. But in any era would you have someone “Better” than Bryant? The man is driven, has the natural instincts for the game and has the most balanced game of anyone currently playing be it defense, scoring or getting assists….whatever is needed is what Kobe delivers. No wonder he is about to have his 6th ring (This year and next years ring included in that count).

  17. ThreeSportStar - May 30, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    KB24 is the BEST PLAYER PERIOD in the NBA… It’s not even close honestly, LeChoke James needs to visit the KB24 school of basketball 101.

  18. SurferDude - May 30, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Lebron doesn’t have what it takes to be Kobe or Michael. He’s all show in the regulars but NO SHOW in the playoffs. All this “King” talk is just pure mockery of his abilities and the medias know that. It’s time for Lebron to return to Cleveland fans half of what he earned as a Cavalier. He’s not worth the money.

  19. LeBron is the King....Of Wishfull Thiking!!! - May 30, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    The real difference between Kobe and LJ is like the difference between and ASTRONAUT and an ASTRONOMER! A dreamer vs a Doer.

  20. LeBron is the King....Of Wishfull Thiking!!! - May 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    The real difference between Kobe and LJ is like the difference between and ASTRONAUT and an ASTRONOMER! A dreamer vs a Doer.

  21. LeBron is the King....Of Wishfull Thiking!!! - May 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    The real difference between Kobe and LJ is like the difference between and ASTRONAUT and an ASTRONOMER! A dreamer vs a Doer.

  22. LeBron is the King....Of Wishfull Thiking!!! - May 30, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    The real difference between Kobe and LJ is like the difference between and ASTRONAUT and an ASTRONOMER! A dreamer vs a Doer.

  23. LeBron is the King....Of Wishfull Thiking!!! - May 30, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    sorry. this newvine thing is garbage. didnt tell me it put my comments up just froze so I kept putting it back in.

  24. Sal - May 30, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Thanks for this writer to remind us what Lebrick James is; an entertainer who much rather hang out with JayZee and his wanna be thugs. Have you notice, that Lebron is more concerned about image. About being the riches NBA player when he retires. That’s what he wants. Quite frankly he’s just a overhyped media made player. Yes he’s very talented, an amazing nature gifted player. He reminds me of the High School Senior Prom chosen king. Good enough to start the dance with the queen but ultimately she’s taken home with some one like Kobe. And that’s all it matter taking the queen home, baby. We’ll let the media make Lebron the king and let them have their paper champion while Kobe, keeps what really matters NBA Championships. Watch how the black Mamba dismantles the Celtics and send them back to the East Coast with thoughts about breaking up their old counterparts. Laker’s in 5

  25. Suns in Seven - May 30, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Longtime Suns fan (who has posted here under this name), here to take my lumps. Congratulations to the Lakers on a great series and a well-deserved Western Conference Championship – we’ll see you next year, though!
    In the meantime, represent the West and grab that trophy. Go Lakers, beat Boston!

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