01/17/2012 - 13:39 Big Shot Fish Does It Again by
As the Los Angeles Lakers took their last timeout with nine seconds left in a tie game on Monday night, coach Mike Brown told Kobe Bryant to "make a play." Kobe knew exactly what to do.
Another three to add to the legend (Getty Images).
Bryant drew a double team, then heaved a pass to a wide-open Derek Fisher, who drained a three-pointer from the wing with 3.1 seconds left on the clock, pushing Los Angeles ahead by three. The trey stood up as a last second attempt by the Dallas Mavericks failed and the Lakers walked away with a 73-70 win, their tenth of the season.
"I'm surprised they just left him wide open," Bryant said of the play. "He's been doing it his whole career. At some point, you'd think people would know that."
"This is what I do," he said after the win. "When opportunities like that present themselves, I'm confident in my abilities to step up and make the right play, whether it's making a shot or making a read to create something for someone else."
Watch the game-winner below:
While the big shot stood out, Fish contributed all day to the Lakers 73-70 win, tallying a season-high 13 points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals and one more pre-game speech, another thing he's become famous for.
It started at shootaround, hours before the game, where Derek stepped up and talked to his team about redemption and avenging the four-game sweep the Lakers suffered at the hands of the Mavericks in last year's Western Conference semifinals. Then, as he always does, Derek went up and backed up his statements with his play.
He made his first basket of the night, a 22-foot jumper, with eight minutes left in the first quarter, tying the game at six. Moments later he recorded a steal, which led to a fast break and a pair of free throws from Matt Barnes. The Lakers trailed the Mavs early in the game and into the second quarter, but after checking in for Andrew Bynum halfway through the quarter, Derek assisted a Pau Gasol jump shot to lessen the deficit to three points.
Derek hauls in a rebound against the Mavs (Getty Images).
With four minutes left, Fish grabbed a defensive rebound after Shawn Marion missed a 12-foot shot. No. 2's rebound led to a Bryant jumper that put the Lakers ahead. Derek was determined to keep the lead going in halftime and his dish to Bryant for a jumper with less than two minutes left helped secure that edge. At the break, LA led by four.
OVERCOMING THE UGLY
Fish started the third off with a jumper, answering a score by Dirk Nowitzki to keep LA up by four. But those were two of only six points the Lakers scored in a sloppy second and as the game headed to the fourth, the Mavs had regained a five-point lead.
Derek said that both teams were suffering from obvious fatigue, each having played a plethora of games (LA with 15, Dallas with 14) in the last three weeks.
"I don't necessarily think it's a coincidence that our team and the Mavericks have played the most games in the league so far to start the season and we're two of the most experienced teams," Derek told the LA Times. "To have your 14th and 15th game in 20 or 21 [days], you probably can't be too surprised that it was a little bit sloppy and a little bit ugly."
But one team had to step up and overcome. D-Fish made sure it was LA.
No. 2 re-entered with seven minutes to go in the game and LA trailing, 57-56. Two Barnes free throws put the Lakers ahead 60-59 and Derek followed with six consecutive points over three possessions, finishing off a 10-0 run and giving Los Angeles a seven-point lead. That stretch included two steals, two layups and two free throws for No. 2 in a span of 77 seconds. Nine off Fish's 13 points came in the fourth quarter.
"My experience in having played for this team for so many years and having been in so many big games, I feel I have a responsibility to the team to not be afraid to step up and make plays," Derek said. "I've been fortunate in my career to come in on the positive side of some big plays."
Dallas rallied back to tie the game, thanks to clutch plays by Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. But Terry's runner with 9.9 seconds to go left the Lakers time for one last play.
After a 20-second timeout, the Lakers took the court. Derek inbounded to Bryant, who stood at the top of the key, ball in hand, with Shawn Marion guarding him. As Kobe dribbled, he watched Jason Terry leak off of D-Fish toward him. Bryant said after the game he waited until Terry got far enough over that he couldn't recover back to Fish. Once he felt the double team was sufficient, Kobe leaped and heaved to No. 2, who caught it and in one quick motion stepped into a 27-footer. Swish.
"I don't think he knew I was going to shoot it," Derek said of the pass, "but he just trusted me to make the right play at that point."
Fish celebrates another big shot moment (Getty Images).
The Lakers got their redemption with the 73-70 victory and Derek's three-pointer was the only three point shot the LA made the entire game after starting out 0-9 from beyond the arc. The Lakers were also shooting a dreadful 32 percent from the field entering the final quarter, when Derek hit 3-of-4 and both his free throws. As a team, they shot 55.6 percent in the fourth.
"You have to try and remain focused and do what you're capable of doing, take the shots that you're capable of making," he said. "Try and block out as much as possible the way the overall game is flowing and really zone in on your impact on the game. Often times when you take your focus off the shot making, the shots will come. What helped for me was getting a couple steals and making some other plays in the game. Then a couple shot opportunities opened up late."
Coach Mike Brown gave Derek credit for stepping up when the team needed him all night long.
"He's a professional, obviously, and he always keeps himself ready," Brown said of D-Fish. "He's starting to understand what we want on both ends of the floor. His hard work as of late paid off today."
The Lakers have now won nine home games in a row, and nine of 10 on the season. With a 1-4 record on the road, D-Fish said it's important for LA to defend the home court.
"These are games that, as we're trying to improve and make progress, getting comfortable with what Coach wants from us, we still have to figure out how to win," he said. "We talked about that before the game. Until we get much better than we are right now on the road, we really can't afford to lose home games, regardless of the score…we have to win at home until we start developing the consistency to win on the road."
DEREK RECONNECTS WITH LAMAR
Monday night was also the first meeting with former teammate Lamar Odom, who was traded to Dallas last month.
Fish embraces long time teammate Lamar Odom as he checks in (Getty Images).
Odom was given a standing ovation from the Lakers crowd as he entered the game in the first quarter. Odom and Fish embraced for a hug and Derek waved his hands, urging the fans to let LO hear their love. Late in the night, the Lakers paid tribute to Odom during a timeout, as they played Odom footage on the scoreboard, followed by the words, "Welcome Back L.O."
Fish and the team will have two nights off before traveling to Miami to face a tough Heat offense. Derek said the Lakers must focus in on themselves again Thursday if they hope to get that second road win of the season.
"We're a big-time work in progress," he said. "We're still, I think, trying to develop and create what our identity will be as a team that plays for Coach Mike Brown."
Watch Derek talk more about the team's progress, courtesy of The Kamenetzky Brothers at ESPN LA's Land O'Lakers blog below:
Tip-off between LA and Miami is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. PST and will be televised on TNT.