For the Lakers, there shouldn’t even be this controversy — if they hadn’t given up an improbably 12-3 run late in the fourth quarter to the Timberwolves bench there would have been no play here to discuss. Kobe Bryant could have had ice on his knees sitting in a folding chair.
Instead, he was trying to ice the game with a free throw with 3.4 seconds left. Make it and it’s a four point Lakers lead. But he leaves it short, and it all happens fast:
Ricky Rubio reacts and gets the rebound while Kobe watches his shot, by the time Kobe reacts Rubio has the ball and is racing to try a game-tying three. Kobe is playing catch up as Rubio races, then with 0.5 left on the clock he goes for the running 28-footer.
And Kobe fouls him on the arm. Watch the replay, it’s a foul. Kobe basically admits after the game it’s a foul. Rubio and coach Rick Adelman instantly protest but to no avail. Why no call? Kobe knows why and told reporters such as the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding after the game.
The announcers miss the point here and Kobe gets it — it’s not him, on a desperation shot at the end of a game like that short of going Kirk Hinrich and tackling Rubio no call is going to be made. You can get away with a smart foul there. Kobe did. The Lakers escape with a much needed win.