HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Kobe Bryant‘s having a good week, especially if you just tune into the last few minutes of Lakers games (and forget his first 15 shots against the Hornets on Saturday).
In Wednesday’s big win over the Clippers, Bryant hit two clutch jumpers, one to give the Lakers the lead with 3:02 left and another to seal the victory with 25 seconds on the clock. A night earlier, he pretty much did the same thing against the Nets with two jumpers in the final 1:11.
Two nights before that, in Sunday’s win over the Warriors, Bryant hit a big 3-pointer in the final two minutes. And back on Saturday, after missing those first 15 shots, he hit the game-winner with 20 seconds left.
Now, go back to last Tuesday, when Bryant hit the game-tying jumper, and then another to give the Lakers the lead in the final minute at Golden State.
Five wins in six games for the Lakers, and eight straight makes for Bryant in clutch time.
Clutch time is defined as the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less. And until March, Bryant, despite his reputation, wasn’t performing very well in the clutch.
Through March 7, Bryant was shooting 19-for-71 (27 percent) in clutch time. Since then, he’s 20-for-38 (53 percent). And as a bonus, he’s also getting to the line more often.
Kobe Bryant’s clutch shooting, 2011-12
|Through March 7||25||89||19||71||26.8%||3||17||17.6%||15||21||71.4%||16||10||56|
|Since March 9||13||65||20||38||52.6%||5||13||38.5%||24||28||85.7%||5||4||69|
Bryant now trails league-leader Kevin Durant (130) by just five clutch-time points. But when it comes to clutch-time shooting percentage, he’s not catching teammate Andrew Bynum.
Highest clutch-time shooting percentage, minimum 25 FGA