Long celebrated for his ability to pull out wins in the game’s dying moments, Kobe Bryant played terribly down the stretch last night in OKC, and his Lakers now find themselves in a very deep 0-2 hole. From ESPN: “After negotiating his way to 20 points despite a paucity of good looks (in addition to handing out all four Lakers assists through the first 27 minutes), Bryant missed all four of his shots in the final 5:31, had a turnover that led directly to a Kevin Durant dunk and had another tipped pass go off his arm and out of bounds. This wasn’t a case of Bryant playing his gastroenteritis-drained guts out and his teammates failing to match him, like Game 6 in Denver. This was a collective effort putting the Lakers in position to get the victory in Oklahoma City they need to win the series, and Kobe bobbling it away. Kobe’s past performances prohibit us from saying he never comes through in the clutch. But his recent history tells us it’s been four years since he hit a game-winning shot in the playoffs, and the ledger is starting to pile up on the negative side. This is not about discussing the totality of his career. Not when there is the immediate task of competing for the 2012 championship at hand. Kobe talks about his desire to give his supporters as much ammo as possible for the debate about his place among the greats … and now, with the Lakers down 2-0 heading for back-to-back games at Staples Center this weekend, there’s a distinct possibility that the conference finals and NBA Finals will arrive without him having a chance to contribute anything else to the argument. Bryant credited a ‘great play by Durant’ for the steal, blamed the missed shots on being ‘too far from the basket’ and that was all he had to say about his performance down the stretch.”
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