This Day In Lakers History: Kobe Bryant Makes Two Clutch Free Throws With Torn Achilles
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
Noah Graham-NBAE via Getty Images

On April 12, 2013, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant made two clutch free throws after a torn Achilles injury against the Golden State Warriors, literally doing whatever he could to will his team to the playoffs.

Despite having Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and Metta World Peace, the Lakers did not meet their 2012-13 NBA season expectations and were making a late push in hopes of just making the 2013 NBA playoffs.

With Bryant guaranteeing the Lakers would make the playoffs, the 34 year old in his 17th NBA season willed them by playing most — if not all — 48 minutes in a handful of games.

In what would become a game between the present and future of the league, Bryant recorded 34 points (9-of-21 from the field and 12-of-16 from the free throw line), five rebounds, and four assists while playing every minute.

Basketball Reference

Despite some warning signs in the third quarter, Bryant remained in the game and willed the Lakers back with them down six points midway in the fourth.

After back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game, Bryant drove past Harrison Barnes but fell down on a non-contact play. While Bryant thought Barnes tripped him, the replays showed otherwise as the Lakers called timeout.

Despite what would eventually be diagnosed as a torn Achilles, Bryant slowly walked to the free-throw line under his own power and made two clutch free throws to tie the game at 109 for the Lakers.

Bryant then headed back to the locker room on his own power as the Lakers escaped with a 118-116 win over a young Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

In a story later told by Lakers long-time trainer Gary Vitti, Bryant actually took a shot at Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce after he made those free throws, making it a point to walk off under his own power instead of getting help from a wheel chair.

Lakers (43-37) went to playoffs

Despite not being able to finish out the season, Kobe Bryant’s heroics pushed the Lakers into the playoffs, where they would lose to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

Unfortunately, injuries became a theme for Bryant to finish out his career after the Achilles issue, as he never quite got back to his pre-injury form.

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