Kobe Bryant isn’t slowing down despite his injured right hand, scoring 39 points to lead the just above average Los Angeles Lakers in their 97-90 win over the Golden State Warriors, his third straight 30 point game in four nights, while the Lakers go 2-1 in these games.
Andrew Bynum? The suddenly turned no.2 option on the Lakers offense struggled offensively, while not getting the amount of shots he should be. Only 3-9 from the field and 3-8 from the line, scoring only 9 points. He did grab 16 rebounds, as his season averages move to 19.6 points and 15.8 rebounds per game.
Pau Gasol? had one of his better all around nights of the season, as his role has changed suddenly this season, despite Lamar Odom leaving the team. Gasol scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, also adding 3 assists, steals and blocks. His better passing ability compared to Bynum and bigger responsibilities defensively make it easier for Gasol with a lesser offensive load.
But the Lakers these days are a one man show. Bryant shot 28 times, making 13 of those attempts and dished out 7 assists. That means 20 of the Lakers’ field goals (37 in all) had Bryant directly involved. It’s good on nights, or weeks, when Kobe is in the zone. Nine games into the season he’s averaging 27.8 points, 5.8 assists and 6.2 rebounds a night. Problem is the differences between this week and the rest of the season.
I don’t see Bryant carrying this much load, throwing the ball so many times each night. It’s not good for the Lakers. Bryant should still be the main executor of this offense, but the wins came over the Rockets and the Golden State Warriors, not the best defensive teams in the league. A more disciplined Blazers team beat the Lakers in between Bryant explosions.
So far, the Lakers are 5-4, but only one of their wins came against a team I would consider at their or a bit better level, the Denver Nuggets. They will improve, and if bench players start with better production, meaning Steve Blake and the player formerly known as Ron Artest start bringing significant scoring off then, things will be better for everyone.
Right now, despite Bryant’s heroics and dominating, I don’t even see the Lakers getting home advantage in their first series in the playoffs. This feels too much like the team before the Gasol trade, too reliant on Bryant’s whim as he tries to win it every time by himself. A change of philosophy, making Bynum a much more significant part of the offense every night, might be the right way to go. I’m just don’t believe it’ll really happen.