21 points in the final 12 minutes and a 20-footer with 0.9 seconds left to secure a 117-116 victory after a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. That's the summary of Kobe's performance on March 13, 2005, against the Bobcats -- the Lakers' fourth win in five games -- and a perfect example of his ability to close out games.
Just time to take over the game. There’s certain times during the season where I’m just trying to take it over. Tonight was one of them.
Kobe Bryant, LA Times
But there's more to that game than the box score and game-winning jump shot. And it has something to do with everything that preceded it. Thankfully, Caron Butler decided to speak out.
Talking to Duncan Robinson and Davis Reid on "The Long Shot Podcast," Butler, who was a teammate of Kobe's, shared a never-before-heard story about Black Mamba and him coming up with the play, which allowed him to hit the game-deciding jumper against Charlotte. Well, sort of.
We was in the huddle, the game was tied and there was only like 3 seconds, 4 seconds on the shot clock. Rudy T is like drawing up all type of s*** on the board and he swiped it off again. Kobe said, 'f*** that, just give me the ball right here.'
But that's not the part of the story that makes it epic -- other NBA superstars also tend to ignore the coaching staff when the game is on the line and go to work by themselves. It's what Kobe said to his teammates afterward.
He was like, 'Whoever wants to take the ball out will be part of history.' Lamar was like, 'I want to be a part of history.' I looked at Kobe, he just like winked his eye in the moment like, Yyo, whoever want to be a part of history just throw the ball, this s*** is over.'
Instead of Lamar Odom, Luke Walton ended up being a part of history. He inbounded the ball to Kobe, and a few seconds later, No.8 delivered on his promise, putting the Lakers up by 1 with just under a second left in the ball game. The same score remained once the final buzzer sounded.
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Kobe finished the game with 32 points on 12-for-24 shooting, along with 9 assists and 4 rebounds, after shooting 4-for-12 going into the fourth quarter. After the game, Kobe credited a fan in the front row for helping him bounce back. “I looked at him and said, ‘Dude, I’m about to get going,’” Bryant said. And that's exactly what he did.
But no one knew about the story from the huddle that happened before he put a cherry on top of his incredible regular-season performance. Thankfully, Butler did his part, reminding everyone of the type of killer No.8 embodied. Or how he put it, 'OG was different.'