by Craig Kwasniewski
What a game! No seriously... WHAT A GAME!!!
Okay, not a great way to start a post for what's mostly a non-partisan blog site, but I was at that damn game at Staples and watched the entire thing from my seats in the rafters and I'm still buzzing from the shot. Here's what I saw:
The Shot I: Just as thrilling as the game winner was the baseline floater that Kobe hit to send the game into OT. The Lakers were down 5 with 12 seconds left. Smush Parker of all people (1-10 at that point) hit an awkward three to cut it to two. Now Phoenix was waiting for the Lakers to foul one of the best freethrow shooters in the game, Nash. Yet somehow, Nash dribbled along the sideline and was stripped by Smush. From where I sat, it looked like the ball fell out of bounds. Instead the ball got tapped to Devean George who, as TNT's Kenny Smith said, hot-potatoed the ball quickly to Kobe. Kobe drive to the hoop, is strongly forced baseline and flips the ball high and...
The place erupts and a feeling of, "did I see that?" comes all over me. As everyone around me is high fiving and loosing it, I actually have to sit down from all the adrenaline hitting me. People start running back to their chairs and I'm still shocked from the events.
The Shot II: Okay, you've all probably seen it, but again, it's still amazing that the Lakers got to the point where Kobe can take a game winning shot.
Kobe had just hit a lay-up to cut the Phoenix lead to 1 with under 10 seconds left. As with the end of regulation, Phoenix got the ball into Nash's hands and were waiting for the Lakers to foul. Here's one of the key reasons why the Lakers did not foul Nash: three of their five players were in foul trouble. Odom, Parker and Kobe all had five fouls. So as Nash was dribbling up court, Odom jumped out at Nash and cut off his dribble, but did not attempt to foul. It was Luke Walton, who had fouls to give, who jumped out at Nash trying to get a turnover or a foul. Instead, Walton tied the ball up for a jump ball.
Several factors had to go the Lakers way for that last second shot. Walton had to win the tip, the Lakers had to recover the ball and the Lakers had to get a shot off with no timeouts left in the game. Walton, won the tip on a second chance slap at the ball. Kobe caught the tip off-balance, if you watch the scorers table, a few people flinched seeing that the ball might hit them. Kobe gathers himself and drives across the court to the the right side elbow, jacks up a shot in the face of two oncoming Phoenix defenders and...
Pure bedlam... High fives all around and I remember yelling OMFG over and over and over again! Then, I looked down at the court and saw everyone mobbing Kobe after the shot. The fans stood near their seats for a few minutes after the game just soaking in the moment almost like we didn't want it to end.
Now, I was at the Western Conference Finals Game 7 in 2000 and this one ranks right up there in incredilble playoff endings. The buzz carried itself in the hallways and parking lots around Staples Center. A truely amazing moment.