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Does Kobe’s explanation for his poor shot selection against the Heat actually make sense?

Mar 11, 2011, 7:35 PM EDT


The Heat’s victory over the Lakers on Thursday was a huge win for them, for a variety of reasons. Miami was getting killed by the national media for being a team that appeared to be coming apart at the seams, and one that couldn’t come through in close games. But the Heat snapped their five-game losing streak in spectacular fashion, taking down a peaking Lakers team that came in riding an eight-game winning streak.

On a night when LeBron James was subpar, Chris Bosh stepped up on the offensive end, and Dwyane Wade simply took the game over for Miami down the stretch.

It was a big, big win for the Heat. Yet all anyone wanted to talk about afterward was Kobe Bryant.

The fact that long after the game Bryant took to the court to get in an unusual (and relatively public) late night workout on Miami’s arena floor was cause for plenty of discussion. But of more importance to the game’s final result was the issue of Bryant taking some extremely questionable shots late that ended up costing the Lakers the game.

There were two shots in particular that seemed to cause the most commotion, but the first (and by most accounts, the most egregious) came with the Lakers trailing by two and 1:06 remaining. L.A. had the ball out of bounds, and a fresh 24 on the shot clock. The pass went in to Bryant, and he immediately rose up for a twisting, fading, three-point attempt — again, with a full 24 seconds on the shot clock — and with Wade heavily contesting.

Wade was credited with the block, and the shot fell short into the hands of Ron Artest, who couldn’t convert at the rim. Miami rebounded, and Wade’s driving layup at the other end made it a two-possession game, and the Lakers were effectively finished.

Most watching felt the shot by Bryant was ridiculous and unconscionable given the circumstances. But when you hear him explain his line of thinking to T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times afterward, all of a sudden it doesn’t sound so insane.

“I wasn’t as off balance as you think; take a look at the replay,” he said. “I told Ron [Artest] to put it right there in that spot in the corner so I could raise up and shoot. I didn’t think Wade would expect that.

“The clock doesn’t make a difference; if you can knock it down you take it. We had the rebounding position underneath. My guys knew I was going to take it. It just didn’t go.”

Bryant’s logic here is pretty sound, even if his sense of team basketball or what constitutes a quality shot might not be.

Bryant felt his defender wouldn’t be expecting that shot in that situation, which, had he been right, would have in fact been a significant advantage. Bryant’s assertion that the clock doesn’t matter is the thing that most take issue with, but if you can get a good look at a shot that you’ve been able to knock down consistently (and it’s not a final possession, end-of-game situation), he’s right.

Finally, this wasn’t a wild heave against the wishes of his head coach and teammates. (Well, it might have been, but Bryant said they were expecting it.)  If indeed the Lakers had the advantage in rebounding positioning (which, judging by the fact that the blocked shot landed in the hands of Artest, they did), and his teammates were aware that his launching of that fadeaway three was the plan, then at least the decision to take this kind of shot now makes a little more sense, no?

Maybe. But it was still a terrible shot.

  1. steelyres211 - Mar 11, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    So, Kobe doesn’t think that the Lakers could draw up a play that could get him a better look than a fadeaway three? That’s the kind of shot you take with the clock running down, not with a full 24.

    That’s like saying I’m going to pull up for a 3 from 30 feet out because the defense will never suspect it and I’ll have a clear look.

    • musilly - Mar 11, 2011 at 7:23 PM

      I totally agree that a better play could’ve been drawn up. Kobe’s down-the-stretch play in general was baffling and awful. Extra post-game practice doesn’t erase that fact.

      But–it’s not like taking a 30-footer. Kobe’s shot was more realistic than that. Still, it was really foolish.

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Mar 12, 2011 at 6:01 PM

      I ‘ll side with Kobe and his shot selection, he has won a few O’Brien trophies
      with his jump shot you know.I’m just saying.

  2. louistaylored - Mar 11, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    I feel it makes sense, but that doesnt make it the right play. Because Im sure his teammates kinda expected it because I do sometimes so I yell “No, No, No” in my living room at the TV. But I thought the shot wasnt necessary and if he wanted to get a foul there are easier and more beneficial ways that Turnaround fadeaways from the corner arc. Just Saying

  3. stlducks - Mar 12, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    If it was anyone else it would be dumb, but players like Kobe always hit tough/stupid shots so you will never hear me disagree with what he does. I’d take Kobe over the heat in a series any time and I’m a suns fan who hates the lakers.

    • borderline1988 - Mar 12, 2011 at 11:14 PM

      Please stop kissing this guy’s ass. He took a totally idiotic shot that ruined his team’s chances of winning the game.
      His excuse is all about hindsight. He talks about ‘rebounding position’ because he knew that his team got the rebound after the fact.
      His idea about the clock is stupid also. You’re not supposed to take shots at the beginning of the clock because it’s rarely a good one. And considering this one was a terrible shot, it kinds of proves this idea.
      And the whole “I didn;t think Wade would expect that” – He’s certainly right about that. Noone would expect stupid shots out of an NBA star. Again, I hope this game affirms us of why this is so.

  4. progress2011 - Mar 14, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    Are we still having the ” BALL-HOGG ” conversation about this guy. Phil wrote about it, Horry, Karl Malone, Rick Fox, Gary Payton, D-Fish ( and many other teammates ) have publicly complained that his ” BALL-HOGGING ” often times ruin any offensive flow !

    This guy has been an ” And1 ” type player his entire career. I venture to say, if he didn’t play for the lakers / biggest market / $30 million over the cap / highest salaried team in the league and didn’t have Phil Jackson to whip into some sort of organized play, he would be just another good scorer…aka A.I., Reggie Miller, Barkley, Clyde Drexler etc…..many of them have better shooting percentages but didn’t have Phil as a coach and all the other incentives mentioned above !

    Don’t take my word for it….get Phil’s book and read the words, right from the horses mouth !

    Phil only came back to coach him because of the additional perks of scrubbing the owner/ owners daughter and becoming the highest paid coach !

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