You can't give Kobe Bryant TWO looks at game-winners. But that's just what the Bucks did as Bryant hit the game-winner in overtime to beat the Bucks, 107-106.
This game was a battle between physicality and finesse. The Lakers with the clear size advantage at every position worked the ball inside and went to the line 33 times compared to the Bucks' 17 free throws. The Bucks kicked the ball out from the post and capitalized on three-pointers. The Bucks hit 10 three-pointers compared to just four for the Lakers.
Remember when the Lakers could hit three-pointers? This is why they are getting in these close games against sub-par competition. The Lakers hit four of 16 threes and at 33% on the season they're in the bottom half of the NBA. At least Artest hit two of his five attempts, a big improvement on his one for seven performance against the Bulls on Tuesday.
Speaking of Artest - got to give the fans in Milwaukee some credit. In the past, playing in Milwaukee has been almost a home game for the Lakers with much of the crowd rooting for the purple and gold. But the Bucks have been much better this season and so have the fans. They even got a "Hennessey" chant going with Artest at the free throw line.
But this game was about Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant (as the games usually are). Gasol has been a monster on the boards as of late. He has 90 rebounds in his last five games including a career-high 22 last night. He also added 26 points on nine of 15 shooting. Gasol was a little more aggressive than he was against the Bulls and it clearly paid off.
Now onto Kobe. Following a 42-point performance the previous night, Bryant scored 39 and hit the game-winner at the buzzer. At the end of regulation with the game tied, Bryant had a chance to end it. The Bucks' Andrew Bogut had just missed a free throw at the other end that would've given the Bucks a one-point lead. On the other end, Bryant couldn't knock down a jumper on the left side of the floor over Charlie Bell. But Kobe would get another chance in OT.
The Bucks built a six-point lead in overtime with under a minute and
a half but missed free throws cost them. Bogut missed that key one in
regulation and this time it was Ersan Ilyasova who missed two huge free
throws with under a minute left that would've brought the Bucks' lead
back up to six points.
The Bucks did their part to blow it and now it was the officials' turn. Bryant drove into the lane and barreled through Bogut and put up a shot that went in. It was clearly a charge but the refs gave Kobe the bucket and the free throw that cut the lead to one point. Bucks' announcer Jon McGlocklin was livid. You can hear him in the highlight at 2:12 ("IT'S NOT A BLOCK!").
The Bucks got two looks on offense but Ridnour and Redd both missed shots and gave the Lakers the ball with 5.4 seconds left down one point. And from the EXACT same spot on the floor that Bryant missed the potential game-winner at the end of regulation and with the EXACT same defense from Charlie Bell, he nailed it. It wasn't quite as impressive as his game-winner vs. the Heat but I'll take it.
Random Note: Kobe has had back-to-back ridiculous games. But if you add up those two point totals they equal his career-high of 81 points.