Kobe drains another in a long line of unbelievable, turning in midair, dagger three-pointers to drag the Lakers back within one. Kyle Korver misses the front end of two free throws, breaking his streak of 23-straight. Down by two with 10 seconds left in the game, Kobe dribbles at the top of the key and attacks ATL’s Dahntay Jones. He gets to his spot, the baseline, for a patented fall away and a sure signature road win for the Lakers. He elevates and turns towards the basket, looking to cement LA’s position as the #8 seed. Jones can only throw his hand in the air and hope that Vino doesn’t make the shot he has made seemingly a million times before. Jones presses in, walking under Kobe and hoping the refs don’t see. The shot flies towards the bucket, the ball touches the rim, and…
Kobe landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle, and walked gingerly down the hallway to the locker room as the game ended. The injury is listed as a severe sprain and he is out indefinitely.
His final miss ended part of a horrendous 4-25 from the field, 9 from downtown, by the Lakers down the stretch. The Hawks skeleton crew, featuring journeymen, a rookie, and Shelvin Mack on a 10-day contract, sans the services of Josh Smith, Lou Williams, Jeff Teague, and Zaza Pachulia, outlasted the Lakers, 96-92.
The win remained just out of reach for a Lakers team looking to sweep a back-to-back for the first time this season. MWP missed a wide-open layup with 56 seconds to go. Kobe chased down his own brick from the free throw line with 1:36 to go and short armed a put back from 5 feet. Vino scored 31 points, but on 11-31 from the field, including 2-8 from distance. MWP added 20 on 9-19, but was 2-9 from three. Dwight, struggling in the second night of a back-to-back this season, only managed 9 shots in the second night of his homecoming tour, finishing with 10 points and 16 boards.
A shocking outcome considering the Lakers, led by Kobe, valiantly came back against this team with their stars on the court. However, the ATL bench shined in that game as well, proving to the Lakers undoing tonight. The dominated their complementary counterparts, outscoring the Lakers bench 46-16. MDA kept his rotation short, letting the Hawks’ guards run around the court with little resistance. Tonight seemed like the perfect game to let Morris and Duhon have a few minutes of run for defensive purposes, especially following Kobe’s 20-point 3rd quarter eruption to erase a 14-point deficit out of halftime to only trail 76-74.
Alas, no such substitution occurred and the Lakers legs failed them as their 4th quarter jumpers and layups came up short.
Luckily, Utah faired even worse, managing only 28-points in the first half, as the Thunder ran them out of OKC, 110-87. On Friday, the Lakers travel to Indiana for the final stop on their road trip to the face the #1 defense in the NBA. On Saturday, the Jazz host Memphis, the league’s second best defensive team. It is a fair bet that both the 8th place Lakers and 9th place Jazz stay in their respective positions for now.