Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
No team in the NBA this season has been as exciting to watch in late game situations then the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers who have won six games in dramatic fashion this season.
Even though we have seen some spectacular finishes by the defending champs the season they have begun to struggle at times and came into their game against the Toronto Raptors with a three game losing streak. This losing streak was the first time that the Los Angeles Lakers have lost three in a row since acquiring Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2008. Very impressive to say the least that Kobe Bryant and company have and let themselves get into a slump over the last 2 1/2 seasons despite playing in two consecutive NBA Finals.
The one thing that has happen to the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been different from seasons past has been that they have dealt with injuries to multiple players not just Andrew Bynum who has suffered knee injuries over the last two years.
This time around it has been Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum who have been in and out of the lineup, but even though this would devastate most teams looking to compete for an NBA title, the Lakers have been able to hold their own played quite well in the absence of their superstars.
Obviously these injuries have happened at different times of the season and the Lakers haven’t had to deal with more than one missing superstar the time, but they did have to play without Kobe Bryant for five games and basically the entire month of February.
Most people believe that Los Angeles can’t win without Kobe Bryant and the lineup, but the Lakers fared quite well without the Black Mamba by winning four of the five games Kobe sat out with an injured ankle.
This was impressive to say the least as even the one loss they had was against the Boston Celtics which could have very well been one if Derek Fisher had made the last second shot.
So what the Lakers proven they could play without their best player, the true test is going to be whether they could play with them after getting used to play without them and last Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors Kobe Bryant proved why they need him after he hit his sixth game-winning shot of the season with 1.9 seconds remaining on the clock to beat the Toronto Raptors 109-107.
It seems to matter how much you doubt them, but no matter how hurt you think he might be, Kobe Bryant continues to prove over and over again that he is the best closer in basketball today. He still is a ways to go before he can be compared with the likes of Michael Jordan in late game situations, but he is as close as it comes to MJ games online and someone is needed to take the last shot!