Mar 7, 2013, 12:03 AM EDT
The Lakers entered the 4th quarter against the Hornets trailing by 18 points, 93-75.
Up to that point in the game there was little reason to think that anything but a disappointing loss for the Lakers was on tap. Sure, they were on the 2nd night of a back to back and were coming off a tough loss to the Thunder the night before. But to lose to a team 21 games under .500 was not just going to make for an extra long flight home, it was going to put a real dent in their hopes to make the playoffs.
Then a funny thing happened in those final 12 minutes — the Lakers found their game and the Hornets fell apart.
Spurred on by a brilliant offensive performance from Kobe Bryant and a dominant defensive effort from Dwight Howard, the Lakers went on a 20-0 nothing run in the final 6:46 of the game and outscored the Hornets 33 to 9 in that final quarter to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. What was once a 25 point deficit in the 2nd half became a 108-102 Laker victory.
There really aren’t enough adjectives to describe how good Kobe was to close this game. In the 4th quarter he scored 18 of his game high 42 points and dished out 2 of his game high 12 assists. He missed only one shot in the period (and only 7 of his 21 on the night) and completely dominated a Hornet defense that had no answers for his all court attack. He hit jumpers, got to the rim in isolation, and even found ways to shake free in transition.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard had his best defensive stretch of the season playing with 4, then 5 fouls for most of the quarter. The Hornets continuously tried to run the same isolation and pick and roll heavy attack that got them their big lead throughout the game, but Howard was there to snuff out nearly every action. He cut off driving angles, patrolled the paint, and challenged shots at the rim expertly all while avoiding the type of contact that would have sidelined him. And on the Lakers’ most important defensive possession of the contest, he had the game clinching block on a Robin Lopez dunk attempt that put the exclamation point on his dominant evening.
Of course, the Lakers wouldn’t have needed such heroics down the stretch if it wasn’t for how poorly they played in tandem with a how well a game Hornets team played.
As bad as New Orleans was down the stretch, they were just as good through three quarters. They dominated the Lakers with heady passing and hot shooting, torturing any and all defense the Lakers attempted (and that’s being kind) to play. Led by their backcourt tandem of Eric Gordon (18 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists) and Greivis Vasquez (15 points, 12 assists, 5 rebounds), the Hornets attacked the slow footed defense of the Lakers and got to their spots on the floor to set up makable shots for themselves and their teammates.
But when it came time to close out the game and put their foot on the necks of the Lakers, the Hornets didn’t have enough. Their hot shooting went cold and the plays that were so easily made before disappeared as the Lakers clamped down defensively. The Hornets closed the game by missing their last 12 shots and committing 5 turnovers, essentially giving the game away just as easily as they had taken it from the Lakers up to that point.
At the end of the contest, Kobe raised his arms, almost defiantly, as he walked off the court. His brilliance and that of his teammates turned what should have been a sure loss into a victory. They had no business winning that game, but sometimes the improbable happens.
Jun 18, 2013, 5:59 PM EDT
Kansas’ Ben McLemore was pretty much a top three pick on everybody’s board a month ago, but he may be sliding down some boards right now. In part that is because the smooth-shooting guard out of Kansas didn’t help his cause in some recent workouts, reports Chad Ford at ESPN.com (Insider). Multiple sources told me…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:40 PM EDT
I know, there’s some irony to Chris Bosh talking about physical play. But the thing is, he’s right — the Miami Heat have to come out with their best defensive effort they are not going on to a Game 7. They need to stick with shooters on the perimeter, make crisp rotations and stop cheating…
Jun 18, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
No. The Spurs could lose Game 6 and then win Game 7 to win the title. Previously: Is Game 5 a must-win for the Spurs or Heat?
Jun 18, 2013, 3:24 PM EDT
Although the Celtics would be in a tough spot if they don’t trade with the Clippers, Los Angeles doesn’t face the same pressure. Acquiring Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and maybe Paul Pierce is one option of many. The Clippers will continue interviewing Lionel Hollins, Brian Shaw and Byron Scott, and if they choose the best…
Jun 18, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT
Monta Ellis has told the Milwaukee Bucks he is opting out of the $11 million he is owed next season become a free agent this summer. As noted at the time, it would be interesting to see what teams would go after a volume shooter — he scored 19.2 points a game but shot just…
Jun 18, 2013, 2:28 PM EDT
While the NCAA and its ridiculous rules force American college players to make their draft decisions much earlier, international players and those not in college have longer to make their decision. That deadline was today and 18 players pulled out the league announced. The biggest one we already knew, Dario Saric of Croatia. DraftExpress had…
Jun 18, 2013, 2:07 PM EDT
If the Celtics-Clippers trade is indeed dead – and like Kurt, I have my doubts – the offseason doesn’t get any easier for the Celtics. Boston is obviously ready to move on from Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers, at least if it nets a certain combination of DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and first-round picks and…
Jun 18, 2013, 1:41 PM EDT
Legacies are always on the line in the NBA Finals. I wrote about that earlier and Kay Adams and I talk about the impact of legacy if the San Antonio Spurs win Game 6 Tuesday night. She also calls me out for that Heat is 6 prediction. As she should.
Jun 18, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT
Danny Green has been on fire, setting a record with 25 three pointers made — he’s passed Ray Allen and has the record for most threes in the NBA Finals. He just doesn’t seem to miss, having shot 65.8 percent from deep this series. What is stunning is the quality of looks he’s getting —…
Jun 18, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT
Trade deals come back to life more often then Freddy Krueger. I’m not willing to believe this deal is dead until I see real evidence. Meaning the Clippers hire another coach (Lionel Hollins, Brian Shaw or Byron Scott) or the Celtics announce they will keep Paul Pierce and not buy him out. Until then, anything…
Jun 18, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT
Only LeBron James could average 21.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.2 steals a game through the NBA Finals and look like he is being passive and not doing enough. He has for much of the NBA Finals looked like the physically best player on the floor but one that couldn’t impose his will…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT
And the people wearing tinfoil hats start screaming, “I told you so, the end of the world is neigh.” The NBA has announced that Joey Crawford will lead the crew of official in Game 6 that also includes Mike Callahan and Ken Mauer. This is the second game this series that Crawford — the most…
Jun 18, 2013, 9:54 AM EDT
As a parent, I read these stories and I cringe for the children. They are being used as pawns in the parents’ fights. Yesterday we told you how Allen Iverson’s ex-wife filed court documents that Iverson had kidnapped his children. Those children are now back with his wife and Iverson told the judge he never…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT
There is no doubt — Danny Green has been fantastic in the NBA Finals Look at his shooting chart, it is ridiculous from three. Green has knocked down 25 threes through five games, the NBA record, shooting 65.8 percent from beyond the arc. He has averaged 18 points a game. He has been key to…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra asked the most pertinent question about Game 6 just after the end of Game 5: “Can we put together our best game on both sides of the floor in Game 6?” Over the course of a long NBA season the San Antonio Spurs built very good habits as a team —…
Jun 18, 2013, 2:42 AM EDT
Manu Ginobili starts hot, Danny Green knocks down threes, and every time the Heat make a run the Spurs are there with an answer. All series long the Spurs have had answers — they are the best counter-punchers in the league, the best team at forcing you into tough decisions then exploiting your mistakes. And…
Jun 18, 2013, 2:19 AM EDT
The Clippers and Celtics keep inching toward a deal. A much-discussed one that would send Kevin Garnett and the rights to sign coach Doc Rivers to Los Angeles. The Celtics would get DeAndre Jordan and a pick or two. The sides are close but there is no deal yet so they will talk again Tuesday,…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
The next time the Bulls play a game Derrick Rose will be suited up and playing. Hopefully by a couple games into next season we can all move past the “why didn’t he play last season?” crap. But for now the issue keeps coming up in Chicago. It came up again recently when Bulls legend Scottie…
Jun 17, 2013, 8:54 PM EDT
Metta World Peace was in rare form today. He was on Sportsradio 610 in Houston — and let me say as a guy who has done a fair amount of radio spots with some quality hosts there, the buzz is all about Dwight Howard coming to the Rockets. If they are talking hoops, they are…
Jun 17, 2013, 7:02 PM EDT
The Celtics and Clippers are still discussing the trade that would send Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to Los Angeles, but the whole deal is predicated on Rivers wanting to coach the Clippers. So, even if the Celtics and Clippers agree how to handle Eric Bledsoe, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, Rivers still must give…
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