This new Mamba is both refreshing and frustrating at times. The pass-first Kobe Bryant has been a revelation but tonight he was more of an enigma.
First and foremost these Lakers will take a win any way they can get one. Considering how miserably they melted down in Phoenix at the start of the Grammy road trip it was nice to see them reverse the tide tonight beating those same Suns 91-85 in Staples.
But back to that man Mamba and his Magic act. To be sure good things are happening now that Bryant is spreading the wealth. But this game was dangerously close to being sabotaged by all of Kobe’s passing.
On the night Kobe scored just 4 points on 1 of 8 shooting in 36 minutes of action and that lone make came with two minutes left in the game. That wouldn’t have been too troubling had the Lakers not suffered a complete power outage in the third quarter. A double digit lead at the half vanished as the Lakers scored a season low 9 points in the third.
When the Lakers needed Kobe to score he was nowhere to be found. Before you knew it 12 straight misses from the field by the Lake Show allowed the Suns to take the lead and it was looking like another disaster in the making.
Thankfully the Suns are the Suns and they just don’t have the firepower having failed to break the 100-point plateau in almost a month.
Dwight Howard finally got off going for 19 and 18 as he played with purpose coming out of the gate aggressive early. D12 was a force on defense too patrolling the paint and altering shots. He even executed a pick and roll with Steve Nash to perfection…gasp!
Sharing game honors with Howard was Antawn Jamison who scored 19 and hauled in 10 boars off the bench. Mike D’Antoni even gave Earl Clark the Gasol treatment as he preferred the vet Jamison down the stretch over the greatly improved Clark. Perhaps some of that has to do with Clark’s sore foot that required an MRI earlier in the day.
The Lakers pulled this one out but barely. Against a better opponent or even if this one were in Phoenix you get the feeling it would have gone the opposite way.
Bryant looked to pass entirely too much tonight. Don’t let his 9 assists fool you. Kobe coughed up the rock 8 times. That’s far too many turnovers for the man suddenly saddled with the burden of facilitating the offense. Many of those turnovers were over the sloppy variety. Bryant dribbled the ball of his foot, over penetrated and left his feet to make passes far too often.
This was anything but an efficient performance from Bryant and the Lakers. Luckily the Lakers’ defense carried them to victory and thankfully the Suns are indeed the Suns.
Eight wins in eleven games is nothing to ignore given the way this season has gone. No matter the fashion the Lakers just need to keep the good resulting rolling along. Oh…and Kobe developing a healthy medium would be welcome also.