Tag: kobe bryant
Kobe Bryant played only 12 minutes and missed all of his four shots in the Lakers 99-93 win over the Indiana Pacers. Still, the Lakers proved that at least against a team like the Pacers who are 40-25 for the season, they can deliver a win when it matters most. It was a very different sort of game for the Lakers star. Truth is that despite having to deal with a severely sprained ankle and trying to move it around the court for 12 painful minutes, Bryant went to the bench and kept on gesturing and moving his hands around, becoming something like the assistant coach of the Lakers. He knew he couldn’t deliver from the field so he went to the sidelines and motivated his teammates and got as involved as he could.
For the first time in 9 years, Kobe Bryant was held scoreless in a basketball game. Let’s not forget that this prolific player has only been held scoreless 15 times in his 17-year career as a pro. “It really just continued to swell and I couldn’t put any weight on it, so I called it a night,” Bryant said in the postgame press conference. The Lakers main scorer had to get treatment on the sore ankle in the training room. “I told them before the game, `I don’t know how much I have, but whatever I have, I’ll give you.” And that sort of dedication and commitment is what ultimately makes him such a great player and fighter. With Kobe out of for the night it was up to another injury-prone player, Dwight Howard to get in the helm. He guided LA’s efforts with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and delivered a tiebreaking three-point play with 90 seconds left that sent the Los Angeles Lakers past Indiana 99-93. Metta World Peace finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, Steve Blake scored five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, while Antawn Jamison chipped in with 17 points and four perfect shots behind the three point arc.
The Lakers had to give it all they had to pull off this win against the Pacers and improve to 35-32 for the season. This was certainly a great performance from a team that early on seemed as if they might just not even make the Playoffs at all. Bryant didn’t play but he stayed as active as he could. Bryant kept on pulling his teammates aside during the game, offering encouragement and advice. “He was great, he was engaged and he wanted us to win,” point guard Steve Nash said about Kobe’s night as something like an assistant coach. “So we had a lot of energy over there.”
The Pacers are the leaders of the Central Division, but they couldn’t capitalize on this chance to beat the Lakers. They gave it what they could but it just wasn’t enough. George Hill scored 27 points, Paul George had 20 points and Lance Stephenson finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Good individual numbers but they were certainly off the mark. Indiana shot only 37.4 percent and that sort of performance is just not going to make the cut even against a Kobe-less LA Lakers.
Here is the thing: Kobe Bryant is 34 years old. But sometimes, he plays, he looks, he moves as if he was 10 years younger. And when that happens, when he is as aggressive as he was a decade ago, there is simply no stopping him, or the LA Lakers, no matter how dismal this season has been for the squad that has brought together Dwight Howard and Steve Nash under one roof. If anybody out there has ever criticized Kobe Bryant for not being clutch, for lacking that precision on his shot when the game is on the line, perhaps they should look at the tape of the last few minutes of the last quarter and the end of overtime to see exactly what I mean when I say that Kobe was looking as sharp as he has ever looked.
The Lakers had to pull off all of their tricks from their big hat to win this one. Playing at the Staples Center and facing the Toronto Raptors, that at 24-39 for the season are not the roughest team to face, they really made things hard for this squad. This is actually the second game in a row where the Lakers have had to pull a come-from-behind effort to make this work. The Lakers had to come from behind from a 25-point deficit to defeat New Orleans on their previous matchup. On that game Kobe Bryant was spectacular. He had 42 points and 12 assists against the Hornets. And he followed that phenomenal performance with 41 points and 12 assists, including a very solid 14-of-16 shooting from the three point line and he also managed to hit the tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds to play in regulation, then dunked for the go-ahead basket with 10 seconds left in overtime.
I’m not a particularly huge fan of Kobe Bryant. I mean, I believe he is among the finest players to have set foot on a basketball court ever, but his insistence on calling himself the all-time greatest is just a little too pretentious for my taste. Now, on the other hand, pulling off a performance like this one at 34-years-old quite simply makes us remember that he might not be the best-ever, but he sure is close. This was a great win for the Lakers squad. They rallied from a 15-point deficit in regulation and even managed to overcome a very slow start in overtime to take this win an now, at 32-31 for the season, they got within a half-game of Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth.
Sure Kobe had 9 of the Lakers total 13 turnovers, but it didn’t matter much. Truth is that when it matters most the Lakers stars delivered. All of them, and that is quite something we are not used to seen much. Bryant and Dwight Howard combined to score 12 straight points in the fourth quarter and Steve Nash hit a 3-pointer as the Lakers trailed 103-99, to start the comeback. “It feels good to be back within striking distance,” Bryant said in the postgame press conference. “We’re just hell-bent on trying to win games.” Ando so far this mentality has worked out for them.
This has been an interesting weekend for the NBA. On the one hand, the fans had a chance to share a fun weekend with their favorite stars as the All-Star Weekend kicked off in Houston. But in between the lines, there have been other news that have shocked the basketball world. On the one hand, LeBron James is now in the middle of a debate among sports commentators and fans alike. On the one hand, many are tying to argue who is the better player right now, if LeBron James is a better suited player than Kobe Bryant. The other debate goes a little further, on whether LeBron James or Micheal Jordan can be considered among the sports best ever, and some have gone so far as to fantasize about who could win a 1-on-1 match between James and Jordan when both where at their peak.
On the one hand, these are the sorts of news that erupt once the season goes into the All-Stars break. Not enough games and we have to shift the attention to other speculations. Then again, it seems like quite an interesting question. For a while there, some went on to say that at 50, Jordan could be planning to make his way back into the NBA. At one point or another a nationally known sports commentator went on record to say that paired with someone like James or Bryant, Jordan could be quite easily finishing games in double figures. I’m not quite sure how to process this sort of information. Yes, he is arguably the best player to have set foot in a basketball court, then again, he is 50, and it’s hard to imagine how that would go against a guy like Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the other young stars who’s parents are just as old as Jordan.
But let’s go back to LeBron James. The news came out that when asked whether he would pair up with James or Bryant to play in the pros, Micheal Jordan came out and said he would take Bryant. His decision was backed up with a very simple explanation: James had 1 Championship ring while Kobe Bryant had 5. And according to his logic, five rings always defeats one national title. James came back with a quick response during the press day in the All-Stars weekend. “(Jordan) said he would take Kobe over me because … five rings are better than one, and the last time he checked, five is better than one,” James said. “At the end of the day, rings don’t always define someone’s career. If that’s the case, then I’d sit up here and say I would take (Bill) Russell over Jordan. But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t take Russell over Jordan. Russell has 11 rings, Jordan has six. I wouldn’t do that.”
He’s got a good point, and he’s got that sort of basketball finesse that could back up his statements anytime. Let’s not forget that James is coming off an NBA-record six consecutive games when he scored at least 30 points and shot at least 60 percent from the field. I don’t think it would be relevant any longer to keep on making this debate. It’s all hypothetical daydreaming, and it all just proves that we need to figure out how to let go off our sports idols of the past. I wonder what argument we would be making when Jordan is 70, James is about to hit the 50 mark and some new Chinese kid is the hottest star in the league.
Shaq has been around long enough for us to know that he’s got a big mouth, and that he is not one to get shy about dealing with some of the controversial things he says. And now that he’s got a platform to go out and speak his mind, it comes not too much as a surprise that he would go on and take a couple blows at the guy who is now going to try to take his place with the LA Lakers. But before we go on with this, let’s stop for a moment and talk about the Howard trade.
For starters, just last week, Kobe Bryant went out to the press to insist that the Lakers are still his team. That he is not going to follow the Miami Heat’s style and try to mix it up a bit between their three biggest stars. Kobe understands very well that this is his legacy, this is were he has spent all of his professional career, and half of his life playing basketball. Sure enough the addition this summer of the talents of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are going to give them a competitive edge: but he wants to be clear about one thing, this is his team.
But that’s not the end of the story. Kobe has been very emphatic about one issue. He wants to teach everything he knows to Howard. He wants the big post to be the heart and soul of this team when time comes and he steps down. Let’s face it, at 34-years-old Kobe knows quite well that he only has two or three years left in his legs. He wants to find a successor. And this is where Howard kicks in. The Lakers have had a tradition of relying on strong and powerful man. The list of a-list big-man in the Lakers includes the likes of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and of course, Shaquille O’Neal. So on the one hand, O’Neal has been there and knows first hand what he’s talking about. On the other hand, it’s hard for him to be too objective about the issue.
Still that didn’t slow him down a bit when he went on to evaluate Howard’s play “We as players, we always watch people before us,” O’Neal said in the league’s official website last week. “When I came in, it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Brook (sic) Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”
Now, this is where Phil Jackson comes into the conversation. Jackson coached O’Neal from 1999-2004 and the pair won three straight NBA titles from 2000-02. It’s no secret that they hold a strong relationship off the court. So it should surprise nobody if he stands behind Shaq’s criticism. He’s got a point, said Jackson and one point of a radio interview. “Dwight’s learning the post game and I think he has improved over the last couple years with his left hand. It looks like he’s shooting the ball a lot better. He used to be a guy that you felt like you had to keep out of the lane. If you could do that, he was going to be limited in his scoring. Now he’s developing some of the offensive game.”