LeBron James takes a lot of, well, Heat for not finishing ballgames. And a lot of it is warranted, the way he tends to disappear and almost takes himself out of plays when it comes to clutch time.
Kobe Bryant, however, is known as “the best closer in the game” by many.
But not on Wednesday.
The Lakers butchered a7-point lead with two minutes to go, with Bryant having a hand in a majority of those miscues down the stretch of a 77-75 loss at Oklahoma City.
Here’s how the play-by-play looked down the stretch, and it didn’t look good for Bryant:
- 3:20: Bryant misses 24-footer.
- 3:16 Bryant foul on Westbrook.
- 1:59 James Harden drives past Bryant for layup, LA leads 75-70.
- 1:47 Bryant turnover, Durant steal and dunk, LA leads 75-72.
- 1:39 Steve Blake pass goes off Bryant’s hand.
- 1:00 Harden blocks a Bryant field-goal attempt.
- 0:56 Harden scores again past Bryant, LA leads 75-74.
- 0:36 Bryant misses 3-point attempt.
- 0:34 Durant runner, OKC takes the lead 76-75.
Former L.A. Times columnist and ESPN writer J.A. Adande summed it up best with his tweet afterward:
Based on the last 2 nights, the answer to Kobe vs. Lebron? is “none of the above.”
Couldn’t agree more.
Maybe the best player of the postseason is Kevin Durant, who led the Thunder on a 9-0 run to end the game. He’s definitely starting to make the MVP voters reconsider their votes cast last month.
As for the Lakers, this all but wraps it up for their season (with back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, it’s going to be tough to take Games 3 AND 4 in L.A.). And when Bryant can’t close out a game, you know the Lakers are in trouble. And when his teammates are throwing up their arms in disgust, as Andrew Bynum did late in the game on multiple occasions, it’s clear the team is dysfunctional and has too many issues to be overcoming what is clearly the best young team in the league.
Where do they go from here? That’s anybody’s guess, but if Bryant is starting to lose his touch — on top of all of the other issues the Lakers are having — you know the franchise is in trouble.