ESPN Daily Dime: Reliance on Hero Ball Hurts Lakers Late

Our editors determined that this was the game of the night, and rightfully so, and thus, I did the Dime lead.  You can read here about what I saw as the main storyline from last night’s win:

With the Rockets trailing by just four, Kobe Bryant checked in at the 4:23 mark and proceeded to miss a 3-pointer, a jumper and a fadeaway, and had the ball stolen away from him over the course of the next two minutes, during which Houston took the lead for good. While Kobe did recover to hit three awe-inspiring jumpers to close the game, the damage had already been done. Houston had sealed a 107-104 victory at the Toyota Center. The decision to abandon Sessions, who finished with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, was baffling.

Still, while Kobe may have caused that loss, he is one hell of a spectacle – the local faithful got more than their money’s worth:

Bryant dazzled the locals with an assortment of moves early on, going behind his back on one occasion to set up a left-handed jumphook. When he spun baseline to split two Rockets, the crowd got a taste of the greatness they so desperately craved. It was a reminder of why people come to watch.

I spoke with another writer at length last night about this, but there’s just something about watching a guy like that that you simply can’t put into words. He’s not Jordan, no, but you have to remind yourself, “enjoy this.  This is this generation’s guy and it won’t be around much longer.”  And ultimately, as I wrote for the mothership, men of his ilk are why we, or at least I, watch.  I like winning teams, don’t get me wrong.  But it’s why I’ve never really been able to get into college hoops much.  I watch basketball for individual greatness.  I’m just being honest – that’s why I fell in love with this sport.  While obviously, I’m nowhere near as good as anyone on the Rockets, in your own mind, you can sort of conceive of yourself practicing enough to be able to do the things they do at your own level.  But Kobe, and guys like that, just let you marvel…you could never do that.  Hit fallaway baseline jumpers with three men draped on you.  Hit hanging double-pump 3′s.   You move to the edge of your seat when this guy has the ball. It’s just art.

That was the great irony of last night.  Kobe might have lost his team the game. But he reminded us of why we watch.

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