SAN ANTONIO -- He makes the big shots and gets the crunch-time call when he collides in midair with Derek Fisher.
Looks like Roger Mason is an even bigger free-agent steal than the San Antonio Spurs ever allowed themselves to believe.
So we have to talk about that first.
Remember that Mason dagger from the corner that beat Phoenix at the buzzer on Christmas Day? That was a yawn compared to the wild scenes of Wednesday night, when Mason was not only asked to replace Bruce Bowen as the Spurs' primary Kobe Bryant defender but also intersected in the final seconds with the most notorious Spurs Killer not named Kobe Bryant ... and out-Fishered him.
"Typical Spurs-Lakers stuff," Bryant said with a smile, trying to shrug off the crazy back- and-forth momentum swings of the final 28.9 seconds that somehow left San Antonio clinging to a 112-111 victory in this ridiculously well-played first encounter for these teams since the Western Conference Finals.
It really wasn't so typical.
Not in this building. Not when Fisher's involved. Surely you're aware, if you've followed this Spurs-Lakers stuff with any regularity, that it's rare when the final play doesn't go Fisher's way at the AT&T Center.
Exhibit A for the uninitiated: Fisher's unforgettable shot to beat the Spurs in Game 5 of a second-round series in 2004 after catching, spinning and shooting with four-tenths of a second on the clock. Exhibit B: Fisher landing on Brent Barry -- but avoiding a whistle -- on the last shot in Game 4 of the 2008 conference finals.
"I guess I've been involved in some interesting moments here," Fisher allowed.
This is January.
Sweet as it was for the Spurs to see Mason shake free from Fisher for a catch along the baseline and do what Barry couldn't, drawing a foul as he sank a 16-footer that put him on the line for the decisive point -- and doing so mere seconds after Bryant had responded to Tim Duncan's go-ahead heave in the lane by splashing in a 3-pointer from the left wing with 12.9 seconds remaining -- there is only so much vengeance San Antonio can claim from a regular-season game. Even an extraordinary regular-season game.
Which brings us to Part 2 of this tale.
The part about the short-handed Lakers playing so well with three regulars out and only eight guys Phil Jackson trusted to play on the second night of a back-to-back -- nine if you count Sun Yue's 82-second stint -- that the Spurs will undoubtedly be wondering if L.A. is even better than they thought.