LOS ANGELES — This video, via the NBA’s YouTube page, is simply titled, “The Greatness of Kobe Bryant.”
That about sums it up.
The Lakers had no business beating the Raptors the way they defended for most of the night, but Bryant made sure that after his teammates helped close the gap, he would personally dig them out of the rest of that hole himself.
Bryant made three increasingly difficult three-point shots in the final two minutes of regulation, and then drove the lane for the game-winning dunk near the end of the overtime session.
The dunk, with the game hanging in the balance, was particularly impressive. Here’s how Bryant explained it to us afterward.
“[Aaron Gray] was coming out to blitz me,” Bryant said. “I saw him coming, I just had to kind of decoy it a little bit and kind of wait for him to get his top foot and get him close enough to me where I could go around him. When that happens, it kind of becomes a screen for my defender.
“He doesn’t have the speed to really do anything, so I just kind of went around him and he wound up screening my man.”
And Bryant went flying in for the slam to win the game, essentially uncontested.
Report: Dewayne Dedmon opts in for $6.3 million with Hawks
There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.
Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.
If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.
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This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.
Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.
The Knicks expected this for a while, and they’re probably not disappointed. Steve Mills and Scott Perry want to put their stamp on the franchise. O’Quinn is a leftover from the Phil Jackson era and a reminder of the recent tumult in New York.
O’Quinn’s combination of block percentage (6.1) and defensive-rebounding percentage (27.8) was unmatched last season. He just really struck a nice balance between contesting shots and remaining in position on the glass. He’s also a smooth mid-range shooter with an improved ability to distribute.
How much is that player worth?
It’ll be a tight market, especially for bigs. For his sake, I hope the 28-year-old O’Quinn already has assurances from other teams. He might get a similar salary or, more likely, a larger overall guarantee on a multi-year deal. But it’s also possible he comes out behind by testing free agency.