A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Not This Time, Kobe!!!
Normal 0TORONTO (BASN) — It was a Sunday night to remember for many Raptors fans as their ball club managed to pull one over the best team in the league with a remarkable 106-105 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was four years ago and two days to be exact when many NBA fans witnessed greatness as Kobe Bryant scored a monstrous 81 points, a career best, at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.
But this time in front of a sellout crowd in Toronto, Bryant was unable to give himself an anniversary present when he missed the game-winning buzzer beater with 1.2 seconds left on the clock.
“It felt pretty good, it just came up a little short.” Bryant said.
But folks it was close…Oh so close. For those who maybe missed the game due to the NFL playoffs let me get you caught up. We knew it wouldn’t be long before Bryant would appear on the scoreboard after the opening tip.
Getting his first lay-up of the night started an ongoing theme in the Air Canada Centre. As soon Bryant had possession of the ball he would be the recipient of boos but then when he scored those boos turned into cheers.
You could tell everyone was on the edge of their seat waiting for the ‘Black Mamba’ to do something great.
And he did just that he delivered a put -back jam at the 6:31 mark in the first quarter.
But as much as Bryant loves to put on a show especially when he’s on the road, the Raptors stayed right with him. Rookie and Compton native, DeMar DeRozan played well scoring six points and grabbing three boards in the first half.
The Raps were on course with the Lakers throughout the game and were tied 50-50 a piece with one minute left if the first half.
And then it happened.
With less than 50 seconds we saw greatness unfold in front of our eyes. Bryant scored three back-to-back-to back jumpers and helped his team go up 56-54 before the sound of the buzzer.
Yes, he is just that damn good.
At the end of the half, Chris Bosh was the only Raptor in double digits with 12 points and the opposing team had three players including Bryant who had 14 points and was 7-of-12 from the field.
You could tell even though Raptor fans wanted their club to win they could not help themselves when it came to number 24. As Bryant approached the free throw line in the third quarter boos somehow turned into cheers and then into M-V-P chants.
Chants of M-V-P for the opposing team… Ludicrous right? Well it would be for any other player but for Kobe Bryant. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary at least not to me.
The chants would quickly disappear though and would turn into cheers again as Jarrett Jack became the Raptors go to guy in the third and fourth quarter.
Jack, who had 18 points, single handedly broke down the Lakers defense. Something Andrew Bynum could not comprehend.
” We have no idea what our defensive scheme is right now,’ said Bynum. ‘I think we had a definite opportunity to close them out but we just didn’t do that. They got back into the game and gained confidence.
Bynum added, “Jarrett Jack was attacking the basket. I was trying stop it but couldn’t. He kept making crazy lay-ups.”
Another player that provided a lift for the Raptors was Marco Belinelli.
Belinelli who has been a streaky player as of late was 4 of 5 from the field and finished with 15 points from off the bench.
It was a good old fashion shootout for both teams but unfortunately for Pau Gasol and the Lakers they were on the wrong side of the whistle when Raptors star Hedo Turkoglu was sent to the line with 1.2 seconds left in the fourth.
“I don’t think I pushed him at all,’ said Gasol. ‘My arm was on his back but I never pushed him. It was a tough call in a critical point of the game.’”
Turkoglu, who has been criticized for his lack of performance as of late, came up huge and made both free throws.
” I know I have difficulties through the past couple of weeks but I always keep my confidence and put those behind,’ said Turkoglu. ‘ [I] try to play my game the best way I can help the team to get some wins.”
Now down by one with 1.2 seconds Kobe Bryant was forced to deliver his famous game winning buzzer beaters, fortunately for the Raptors it would not be on their home court.
“It just rimmed out, it happens.” said Bryant, who finished the game with 27 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists.
To Bryant’s credit the inbound pass from Luke Walton was not a pretty one for someone to catch and shoot with less than two seconds on the clock.
” He just kind of threw it on the inside, and I was on the outside, so I kind of had to bat it a little bit. I Randy Mossed it.”
Including Wednesday’s victory against the Miami Heat, Toronto has now 5 of their last 7 and improve to 24-22 on the season.