Strange, strange game for Lakers fans. Not since Utah’s game on March 28, 1998 has Bryant gone 3 quarters without scoring. This game, he made his first basket with 7.30 to play in the 4th…and ended up with 11 pts and the game-winning basket just when the haters were set to have their day. Go LA Go!
But before you start saying what you’re about to start saying, think what you’d be like at 5PM on a Friday after working 16 years at a company that just fired your partner/best friend after a merger, said partner/best friend having just schooled you on one of the biggest business deals of your life…and who is now going after your lifelong dream, just to prove that he can?
You might have an off day at work too. Everybody does.
All Kobe’s performance goes to show is why Kobe is the King, why one should never lose faith in his ability to save the day. We have seen Bryant pull out amazing game-winning endings before; his ability to focus and perform under moments of greatest pressure is what sets him apart from others. And always, Bryant gives it his all to the last second of the game…even if “fatigued” from playing more minutes (and scoring more points) than any other player in the NBA today–even as rumors circulate that this performance today was because of the extended PR fest with Allene Wynn, the 105-year-old woman with the title of the “oldest Lakers fan” on a mission to tell Bryant to get the Lakers to “play better” that went over the alloted time and cut into Kobe’s warm-up time on the court.
But rumors are rumors, not truth, and we’ll never know.
In any case, at the end of the 1st quarter of this now-infamous game, Bryant was at 0 pts, but the Lakers were up 20-14…so nobody was saying nothing yet. At halftime, the Lakers were up 43-39! Woot! Woot! The top scorers were: Gasol, with14 pts, 6 reb! Sessions, holding strong at 8 pts, 5 ast, and Blake, turning it on at 9 pts, 5 rebs.
But Bynum and Bryant?
2 pts for the 7 footer and 0 pts for KB…who had 0 PTS in the entire First Half! “Never seen anything like it,” we thought. Day-um.
And then, as the Hornets took the lead in the middle of the 3rd, it began to look desperate. But wait…what’s that? Sessions-Bynum…Score! Yes! Lakers up 54-51…but blink and the Lakers down 58-54…with 3.46 to go in the quarter!
The end of third report? Lakers 61, Hornets 67…WTF?
But not to worry! Bryant makes his first field go w 7.30 to play in the 4th…and earns a standing ovation from the crowd. And then–with a hard drive to the basket to earn him 2FT’s, followed by a quick block–#24 is back and the Lakers closing in 75-79. Sessions runs down….score! 3 pt game! Another hard drive to the basket–foul–and KB is at the line. FT!
But the Lakers are still down 85-81! It’s a 3 pt game with less than a minute to play! Eek! Eek! Brown calls for a time out…and then cool as ice the Mamba enters the game to rise and sinks a 3 POINT SWISH with 20 seconds to go in the 4th! OMG! OMG!
And the Lakers lead 86-85! YES!
With some sweet end of game defense from Pau Gasol, the Lakers win 88-85! It’s an ugly win, but a win. Plays of the Game: KB saving the day with a 3 point swoosh and Gasol’s score-holding block!
Top Scorers: Gasol, leading the way with 21 pts, 11 rebs, 3 assts! Bynum: 19 pts, 10 rebs! Bryant: 11 pts, 3 rebs, 5 assts! Sessions: 10 pts, 10 assts!
Says Kobe Bryant on the first 3 quarters: “It was awful. I couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean if I was sitting on a boat. But I thank the fans for sticking by me.”
And, now this is what everyone wants to know: Is Kobe “fatigued” from playing too much?
“Sure, I’d love to not have to be able to play him,” admits Mike Brown. “I played him for 38 tonight. I’d love to not be able to play him for 38. But obviously sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
And nothing can be done about this–like other teams like the Spurs are doing with their stars?
“We’re in a diffreent situation than the San Antonio Spurs,” defends Brown. “In Cleveland we had a few guys in the first or second year, and we feet like we neded to get wins, we felt like we needed to establish someting. We played to win a lot of times and that’s what we’re doing now; hopefully I can get Kobe’s minutes down the rest of the year.”
But that “playing to win” has meant keeping Kobe on the floor for 40+ minutes every game–and now we are seeing the consequences.
At a time when all other NBA teams are ramping up to maximize their performance for playoff season, Bryant is exhausted from playing nearly a full 48 minutes every back-to-back game of this compressed season. And if Kobe playing too much, if no strategy has been set to reserve some of Kobe’s strength to carry the team the rest of the season, whose fault is that? Perhaps the stragetic team on the sidelines that is supposed to provide leadership and direction for the ballers on the floor?
Strategy is preparing for the future–the entire season. Just like you have to prepare for all for quarters of the basketball game–not just a lead in the first that is barely there at the half…falling behind in the 3rd to an uncertain future in the 4th.
And then talk about it afterwards and say that there is nothing else that could have been done.
Get your game on tomorrow as the Lakers go to war against Golden State! But first, watch Kobe make the game-winning shot against the Hornets HERE!