Kobe Bryant delivers the final miss again

LOS ANGELES -- You know the scenario. Everyone does. We've seen it unfold so many times for so many years that to expect it to unfold any other way feels sacrilegious.

The Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to win on the game's final play -- and, of course, the ball goes to Kobe Bryant.

It happened again Friday, as the crowd again rose to its feet at Staples Center, anticipating the Lakers' star guard burying a game-winning buzzer-beater, another clip for the highlight reel.

With his team down one with 6.3 seconds left, Bryant followed the age-old script and went isolation against Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Andre Roberson.

Roberson had contested all of Bryant's jumpers to that point, and he was effective: Bryant had missed 11 of his 14 attempts before that final play.

Roberson was in position, and he contested Bryant's last jumper, too. Bryant pump-faked, trying to draw contact, then fired from 17 feet ... and missed. The Lakers lost 104-103 and fell to 8-18.

"It was the shot I wanted to get," Bryant said following his nine-point performance on 3-of-15 shooting. He also had eight assists and eight rebounds in 35 minutes.

"I was trying to figure out if I had time to draw contact. It just threw me off a little bit."

The 36-year-old Bryant looked tired during the game and admitted as much afterward, which he has done several times throughout his 19th NBA season.

"Yeah, I didn't have my legs," he said. "Pretty frustrating. I've got to figure it out."

Bryant shot 1-of-5 in the fourth quarter. Jeremy Lin, meanwhile, shot 3-of-5. Why did Lakers coach Byron Scott go to a weary Bryant instead of to Lin's hot hand?

"32,000-plus points," Scott said, ball-parking Bryant's career total.

Lin gave a somewhat diplomatic response when asked about Bryant's final shot.

"How many game winners has he hit like that?" Lin asked, referencing Bryant. "I'm obviously rooting for him to hit that shot. I thought it was a good look. It was a very, very hittable shot. That's just a matter of time before he starts hitting those game winners."

Then Lin added, "I like game winners too. I would love to shoot some. But I get it. That guy is kind of the king of game winners. He's going to hit that shot. He'll figure it out. That's why he is who he is."

Lin indeed gets it -- Bryant gets the last shot in Lakerland, no matter what.

Bryant has now missed 12 consecutive potential tying or go-ahead shots in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime, which ties for the longest such streak in his career; he also missed a dozen such shots in a row between 2005 and 2006.

Some would argue that Bryant isn't as "clutch" as many believe, a point that advanced statistics has made all but indisputable.

Others would argue that, generally speaking, it's just not all that wise to have a 36-year-old who has had consistent fatigue problems take the final shot, especially when said player hasn't really made anything all night long anyway.

That notion has nothing to do with being clutch -- it's just simple logic.

Bryant's legacy is to take those shots, and so he will, but his fatigue is becoming a troubling issue. He said he's still trying to figure out when he has "his legs" and when he doesn't.

"Some games they're there, some games they're not," said Bryant, who's averaging a team-high 35.4 minutes per game this season.

The Lakers had two off days before Friday's game, and Bryant practiced during only one of them -- Wednesday; even then, he practiced only part of that day.

But Scott said he believed Bryant pushed too hard even in that limited practice time.

"He wanted to compete in practice and get guys going," Scott said. "Ultimately, that maybe kind of bit us in the butt a little bit. Maybe I just have to say, let's just take the whole day off, instead of coming out and getting shots or doing some of the things that he did."

Is Scott concerned? He says he is not. Perhaps he might feel differently if his team were playing for anything this season aside from a top lottery pick.

For his part, Bryant said he might have pushed himself too hard Wednesday.

"Maybe," he said. "It's a balancing act, right? Just trying to figure out when to do it, when not to do it. I'm just trying to figure out proper rest and all that other stuff. I'm just trying to get a good system, trying to start getting some consistency in these legs."

Can he judge how his body will react by how he feels when he enters the arena? Or does he change as the game goes along and he catches a second wind?

"It's kind of play to play, actually," Bryant said.

He's already learning that his season will hinge on him figuring out how to keep his body fresh -- if such a thing is even possible at his age, with the minutes that he's playing, with all the minutes that he already has played throughout his career.

"Hopefully I can figure something new out tomorrow," he said. "It's just trial and error."