Anatomy of an LA Lakers Comeback

Based on their recent string of nail-biting victories, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the L.A. Lakers only know how to win one way: via the fourth-quarter comeback.

After knocking off the New Orleans Hornets by digging out of a 25-point hole on March 6, Kobe Bryant and his Laker mates erased a 10 point fourth-quarter deficit against the Toronto Raptors, eventually prevailing in a stunning 118-116 overtime victory on March 8.

In both instances, Bryant singlehandedly dragged the Lakers back from the brink of catastrophic losses. He was responsible for generating 29 of L.A.'s 33 fourth-period points against the Hornets, and his nine points in the final 1:40 against the Raptors were responsible for lifting L.A. for a second straight game.

For late-game rallies like these to be successful, almost everything has to go right. Taking the Lakers' two most recent games as examples, we've got a pair of perfect specimens to look at the anatomy of a comeback win.


Phase 1: The Deficit

It's obvious, but the glory of a great comeback can't happen without the ignominy of a massive deficit.

The Lakers allowed the woeful Hornets to put up a season-high 39 points in the second period on March 6, a run punctuated by a handful of buckets from Austin Rivers, of all people. Eric Gordon knocked down three long bombs to complement Rivers' floaters, and L.A.'s halftime disadvantage was suddenly 19 points.

Two days later against the Raptors, L.A. let their opponents take terrible, low-percentage jumpers in what should have been a sound defensive strategy. Unfortunately, DeMar DeRozan and his teammates kept nailing long twos, building a 10-point advantage by the time the third-period buzzer sounded.

Though the Lakers fell behind for different reasons in each of their two most recent games, the first necessary ingredient for a comeback was there: L.A. got outplayed for three quarters in...

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