The best players in the league usually aren't embarrassed on the court -- more often than not, they're the ones who shame others. On the rare occasions when they do make full of themselves, their pride kicks in and manifests itself in a torrent of righteous fury soon after.
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Kobe Bryant said it was a first for him. Never had he missed all three free throws after getting fouled attempting a 3-point shot. He heard the crowd boo and laugh at his expense, especially as shot No. 3 badly clanked off the front of the rim.
"Never happened to me," Bryant said. "Never."
And it was the worst thing that could happen to the undermanned Washington Wizards. After his dubious NBA hat trick, Bryant kick-started himself and soon was running off 12 straight points for his team, leading the decisive third-quarter run Tuesday night in the Los Angeles Lakers' 103-89 victory.
"Absolutely," said Bryant, when asked if the trifecta of misses got his juices flowing. "I just got going. I got some good looks, knocked them down. I made one. I made the next. Things just went on from there."
In all honesty, the Lakers probably didn't need Kobe to go on this post-failure run to win this game. The Wizards are a bad team for a reason, and bad teams blow games in the second half against defending champions without much trouble.
But Kobe still deserves commendation for the way he responded to his troubles. This is a man who always does whatever possible to erase problems in his game from the record. That drive makes him a fanatical worker in the offseason, but it also affects his in-game play, too.
Even though Kobe made up for his misses at the line, you just know he'll be thinking about them for a while. Expect him to take about 1,000 free throws whenever he gets a few free hours. That's just the kind of basketball obsessive he is.
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