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Pivot Points: His Name Is Kobe Bryant, But You Can Call Him Mr. Clutch

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 5, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after hitting the game winning three point basket as time expired against the Miami Heat at Staples Center on December 4, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Heat 108-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

This one, was definitely for the haters. Last night Kobe Bryant capped a brilliant fourth quarter performance with a 28 foot, bomb released just as time expired, while drifting left at the top of the key. The ball tipped off the glass, fell through the net, and the game was over.

It was really an amazing shot, and it sent Los Angeles Laker fans into a frenzy, and dealt a formidable blow to the legions of "Kobe Doubters" that exist in the stratosphere.

For them that shot had to be like a quick punch to the gut, because it momentarily took the wind out of what has become the vogue thing to do when regarding Kobe Bryant and his "clutch player" status.

Various media-types, fans, and pundits have been using statistics to proclaim that Bryant's image as a closer is an illusion, and that there are far more players in the league that are more clutch than he is.

There are websites that can give you each number of times that Bryant took a shot in the closing moments of a game, and the regularity in which he converted those attempts into points.

The numbers are accurate, but what is lost in the coldness of the digits is the memorable moment that took place in last night's game against the Miami Heat.

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The statistic that I love the most is the one that says Kobe actually only hits one in four game-winning shots that he takes, or that he is 25 percent accurate in those situations.

Take a moment to process that thought. One in four? I guess that the numerous other players must be hitting game-winning shots at an amazing clip, because when you think about it, one in four is not that bad.

And exactly how many other players find themselves in position to seal a game on so many different occasions? I'd go out on a limb and say not as many as Bryant, and certainly not with the same pressure and attention.

Although Bryant's shot will be remembered, it should be noted that he had another moment in Friday night's game where he shot an airball while being closely guarded by Dwyane Wade.

That shot is the type that fuels the fire of the observers who would question Bryant's big game status. The same can be said of his team that saw themselves relapse into their defenseless ways of the past.

The Lakers in the fourth quarter allowed a penetrating Wade to get to the basket at will and he was instrumental in erasing a Laker nine point lead, and actually putting the Heat ahead near the end of the game.

The expected duel between Wade and Bryant was good as advertised as the two guards spent the fourth quarter trading buckets and facial grimaces.

Wade rebounded from a poor start and had the Heat on the brink of victory with a few shots that were clutch in their own right, and it seemed that Miami would escape the Staples Center with a narrow road victory.

In a night that was made for clutch players, Derrick Fisher contributed his part with a three-pointer that cut a four point lead to one, and set the stage for Kobe's later heroics.

I would like to re-visit the one out of four statistic for a minute. To my knowledge, this is the Lakers' first game that came down to the final horn this season, and subsequently this makes the first time that Kobe has been in a position to win the game.

I guess that would make him one for one so far. To argue the merit of his end-game status is senseless anyway, because no other players in the league take as many last second shots, nor have as many memorable moments etched in history.

Last night was the perfect example of a player that is greatness personified, and has a game that defies statistics. Instead of the numbers the anti-Kobe clan has a bonafide moment in history that they can bear witness as testament to Kobe's clutch skill.

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