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Hot Hand? Kobe Bryant's 81-point game

By Alan Reifman

Following the February 10, 2007 men's basketball game between Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, I introduced a new type of graph or chart to depict hot and cold shooting stretches at a glance. Within my system, the time of game, general distance (dunk/layup, longer two-point attempt, or three-point attempt), and hit/miss status of all of a team's shots can be easily grasped (only one team is depicted, and free throw attempts are not shown).

Now, whenever I see a game in which the same team goes through what seem to be pronounced hot and cold stretches, I consider plotting its shooting outcomes in my new format.

Was Kobe Bryant's famous 81-point night a case of a Hot Hand?

The play-by-play sheet on which the chart is based is available at: ESPN play-by-play

For more on "Hot Hand" theory see my website at:

Alan Reifman (PhD, 1989, University of Michigan) is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University. Among his other courses, he teaches introductory and advanced statistics for the graduate students in his department. As a teaching device for probability concepts, he maintains the Hot Hand website, which analyzes streaky performances in sports. A big fan of basketball and other sports, he still hasn't stopped beaming over the Wolverines' hiring of John Beilein as their new men's basketball coach.

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