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This is the great unknown for the Los Angeles Lakers, and a legitimate cause of concern for their fans: Who will take the shots when games are hanging in the balance?
Traditionally, Kobe Bryant has been entrusted with the biggest and most critical possessions. He built his reputation as a clutch performer over the course of his illustrious career, but with father time catching up to him and defenses knowing he's the one shooting at crunch time, Bryant's ability to pull victories from the jaws of defeat has diminished. Tellingly, in the latest survey of NBA general managers, Bryant is no longer ranked first among clutch shooters (the honor went, instead, to Kevin Durant.)
With so much more talent around now, the Lakers' formula will need some tweaking. It makes little sense to have Kobe try and and win close games by himself. Coach Mike Brown, along with assistant Eddie Jordan (a specialist of the Princeton Offense), will need to devise ways to get the team good shots when things get tight. Steve Nash's court vision should allow for probing of opposing defenses to determine the best options.
The worst thing the Lakers could do is become predictable late in games. They must remain dynamic and take advantage of all of their star power, no matter how much time is left on the clock.
Ideally, they'll be dominant enough that figuring out how to win close games won't become a major concern in 2013.