It didn’t make much of a difference that Kobe Bryant was playing with a fractured nose and was wearing a translucent facemask that made him look a bit creepy. The protective mask he was wearing didn’t stop on his previous match against the Minnesota Timberwolves (where the Masked Mamba scored 31 points) and it sure didn’t slow him down against the Sacramento Kings. At the end, the Lakers took a good lead early in the second half that almost cost them the game, but Kobe and the Lakers made the best of the matchup to win the game 115-107 during the weekend’s NBA Action.
Now Kobe Bryant has had a chance to warm up for the game they have this Sunday against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center. Bryan finished the night with 8 rebounds and 13-for-24 shooting. Now, he’s going to have a chance to get back at Dwayne Wade for giving him a hard foul in the All-Star Game. In a play that many considered simply unprofessional and uncalled for, Dwayne Wade send his arm straight against Kobe Bryant’s face, giving him a concussion and a nasal fracture.
But the Black Mamba wasn’t the only player in the Lakers squad doing things right. Despite the many rumors about the franchise willing to exchange some of its stars, the Lakers did a great job overall. Just consider for a moment that Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 16-1 at home and 22-14 overall since dropping their season opener on Christmas against the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose. The Spaniard Pau Gasol added 15 points, and Metta World Peace scored eight of his 15 points in the final five minutes when the Lakers needed him most as the Sacramento Kings were close to snapping a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. It was going to be up to the Sacramento’s reserves to lead this comeback, but at the end Kobe was simply a force too strong to hold down.
At 12-24 for the season, things are certainly not looking too bright for the Sacramento Kings. But despite been a clear underdog, it was evident that they still had some pride in them as the squad never gave up. Just take into accound that that Sacramento Kings trailed 94-74 early in the fourth quarter before the bench start making a good run. The reserves scored 11 consecutive points during a 21-6 run that trimmed the Lakers’ lead to 100-95 on Jimmer Fredette’s 3-pointer. By that moment there were only five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Bryant and Metta World Peace were just about to get things into overdrive mode for the Lakers.
Francisco Garcia scored 18 points to lead Sacramento. It was a good effort, seven Sacramento Kings players finished the night in double figures, but that didn’t keep them from loosing their eighth match in 10 games. “These guys could have folded and said, ‘It’s over, we’re going to roll over,’” the Sacramento coach Keith Smart said about the squad’s overall performance. “But they played hard and got themselves back in the game, and that’s why this group is going to be OK. This group is going to come around as we continue to get familiar with each other, and they’re going to play hard every single night.” For the sake of his squad, that better be the case.