Kobe Bryant shrugged off the most perplexing game of his career with an effort more consistent with what we’ve seen throughout the years. Since missing his first 15 shots against New Orleans Bryant has rediscovered his inner Mamba. 40 points on 28 shots was classic Kobe in a vintage high-scoring affair with the Golden State Warriors tonight. Bryant built on his clutch close on Saturday with a dominant performance on Sunday.
The good news is that the Lakers have returned to their winning ways at home. The bad news is they blew another big lead, didn’t play much defense yet again but still held on for a 120-112 win.
Now for the even worse news: Andrew Bynum missed most of this game after rolling his ankle in the second quarter.
Drew immediately went to the locker room never to return again. X-Rays revealed no damage but nothing else will be known until an MRI can be performed. Talk about bad timing. If this ends up being another injury setback for Bynum it couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment.
In only 10 minutes Bynum was scoreless with the 3 boards. Normally you’d think that would mean L.A. would have no chance. Not so much the case now that Ramon Sessions is holding court.
In addition to Mamba’s 40-ounce of points, Sessions went for 23 on an amazingly efficient 10 shots. His 9 dimes also helped set the table for plenty of Kobe’s buckets and many of Pau Gasol’s 26.
The Spaniard stepped up in Bynum’s absence with an All-Star effort. Gasol is finally getting more touches closer to the hoop thanks Ramon’s ability to get into the paint more often than Jackson Pollock’s brush.
When Sessions isn’t drawing defenders to create open looks he’s getting to the rim making for cheap buckets for his teammates even when he misses. Josh McRoberts had a sick follow dunk on a Sessions miss and Pau got a put back thanks to all the attention going Ramon’s way. For whatever its worth McLoberts is playing is best ball of the season lately. His only two points came on that nice put back but 8 boards mixed with Troy Murphy’s 11 rebounds makes for a solid showing by the bench.
Aside from the natural concerns surrounding Bynum’s bum ankle, the troubling trend of terrible D continued.
L.A. had a 15-point lead in the second half yet allowed GSW get as close as two in the 4th. A lot of the 36 points the Warriors hung in the final frame came on open looks from distance. Nate Robinson had one of his nights scoring 17 off the bench including a fantastic 5 of 6 from deep. Klay Thompson keeps making pops proud as he went for 18 most of which was scored on jump shots.
The Lakers played with plenty of energy tonight. Metta World Peace even had a pulse. His defense wasn’t the best but his activity level kept him in the game. For good measure MWP hit a big three late that helped seal the deal.
Kobe’s bounce back game was badly needed. He didn’t settle even though his jumper was on, instead getting into the lane and getting to the line. Of course the real story is the developing one regarding Bynum’s ankle.
At a hectic point in the season there isn’t much time to rest. It would have been nice to get Kobe a little more R&R but as usual the Lakers couldn’t extend a big lead. It would have also been ideal for Bynum not to get hurt in the middle of three games in four days. But the schedule is what it is and at this point the Lakers are what they are. With all the drama going around these days the last thing you wanted was to have a Bynum injury watch splashed across the headlines. But it is what it is. All the Lakers can do is play the hand that is dealt.