Kobe Bryant is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.
With each lackluster Lakers loss it’s as if Bryant can feel the hopes of winning a title evaporating like so many rain drops that have pelted Los Angeles the last two days. At least that’s the way I’m spinning Kobe’s reported rant during practice Thursday. According to those who witnessed the occurrence Bryant stormed off the practice court shouting obscenities and throwing a few objects.
Kobe’s message as simple. He wants his teammates to toughen up and play up to their potential.
Mission accomplished…at least for one night.
After the disastrous loss to Indiana the Lake Show regained its form in a 122-103 thrashing of the Denver Nuggets.
Everything that went wrong against the Pacers was fixed during the demolition of Denver.
I don’t want to even float this out there but Friday’s victory was about as close to the Showtime style of play Mike D’Antoni preached when he took over.
The Lake Show was lights out shooting an unreal 54% from the field including sinking 17 of 33 from deep. Most amazing of all was the bench production.
What you’re about to read is not fiction. These things really happened.
Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks combined for 54 points off the bench. A complete 180 as the second unit only scored 5 points against Indiana. Jamison took game honors scoring 33 points in 32 minutes of action. The former Tar Heel is thriving in D’Antoni’s system as it all came together in a 5 of 10 performance from deep. Oh and Jamison also grabbed 12 boards rounding out a solid evening.
As for Meeks, he too is hitting his stride in the run and gun style the Lakers are employing. Signed to provide the Lakers with a presence beyond the arc, Meeks is finally looking like the guy Mitch Kupchak envisioned. 21 points in only 17 minutes including a few long bombs shot from Riverside made Friday Meeks’ most memorable moment as a Laker.
You know something is up if we’re this far into a game recap and have yet to mention any of the Lakers bigger names. But that’s a great thing when we’re discussing a victory.
Dwight Howard was all smiles on Friday night. Finally shaking off a stretch of uninspired play D12 got off dropping 28 and pulling down 20 boards. His 20-20 vision was highlighted with some nasty dunks, aggressive help side defense and an infectious smile that never left his face.
As for the man the inspired this effort. KB24 had a relatively quiet night scoring 14 on 15 shots but it was his work as a facilitator that really made thus game a cake walk. Kobe continues to be the engine driving the offense as he dished out 8 dimes yet again.
Now the offensive explosion will hide the many defensive shortcomings the Lakers displayed last night. Denver routinely got into the paint where, at one point, they had scored more than 50% of their points. That’s not going to cut it. George Karl’s team will no doubt be more prepared the next time these two meet and you can expect serious exploitation if the Lakers aren’t more stout on defense.
Also Pau Gasol continues to look more lost in D’Antoni’s system than Metta World Peace was in the Triangle. The Spaniard did contribute in a multitude of ways including hitting the boards, dissing out dimes and running the floor. However he’s still looking for a more clearly defined role in the offense.
Tossing even more cold water on this otherwise amazing display is that the Lakers are again a .500 team battling it out for the last playoff spot in the West. This game has got to be a springboard. Unless the Lakers get hot in the immediate future then their season is going be an uphill battle in the regular season sure to make for tired legs come playoff time.
This was a start but it can’t be viewed as anything more than taking care of business. Not every game will unfold in this manner but there isn’t any reason why the Lakers can’t give this type of effort every night. If it requires a weekly Kobe tantrum then so be it.