Don’t Get Too Excited, Houston

News is flying around this morning about Kobe Bryant’s sore throat that caused him to miss Sunday’s practice [via nba.com].

I’m sure Houston fans would love the prospect of seeing the mamba on the sidelines rather than draining 3′s and disrupting defensive sets.  I think any team would relish the thought of playing the Lakers without their biggest name.

But lets stop there for a second, shall we?

Never mind the fact that the Lakers beat Houston by an average of around 8 points in the four games this season.  Never mind the fact that the Lakers have had the “killer instinct” when it comes to the Rockets all season (averaging over 30 points in the fourth quarter against Houston this season).   Never mind that Andrew Bynum didn’t even play in the last two wins vs. Houston.  One of those had Lamar Odom sitting out as well.

If a Laker team without Bynum and Odom can win, in Houston, and drop 35 points in the fourth- you’ve got more than #24 to worry about.

Much to the Kobe-haters’ dismay, the former ball-hog has learned to set up teammates and use himself as more of a decoy rather than a scorer.  Sure, he still steps up when needed- but that isn’t the mindset he enters most games with.  His passing and selflessness have elevated the level of play of all those around him and have ensured that regardless of whether he is 100% or not is no longer the most important factor in a Laker victory.

Although the series outcome probably won’t be affected if Kobe has to skip a game because of this sore throat, it’s worth noting that the man knows how to play through pain.  There’s a reason he’s played 82 games both of the last two seasons, and I’d be extremely surprised if he didn’t bring 100% on the floor with or without a sore throat.

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