Look at Kobe Bryant’s numbers the last two games – 38 points against the Sacramento Kings on Friday. The Lakers lost, at home 100-95. Their first loss to Sacramento after eight consecutive wins. Last night, Bryant scored 41 points against the Boston Celtics in a rematch of the 2010 NBA Finals. The Celtics won 109-96. I read a lot of headlines saying that the Celtics won despite Bryant scoring over 40. Really? Despite? Kobe had a really good night, shooting in good percentage (16-29 from the field). The rest of the Lakers team? Not so good – 20 from 52, less than 40% from the field. Gasol had 12, Artest had 3. Odom came from the bench with 15, but that was it, and far from enough.
It was the same story against the Kings, far from a decent defensive team. Bryant scored 38, shooting 13-27 from the field. Not bad. The rest of the team? Again, only 20 field goals without Kobe, again under 40%. No triangle offense. No structured and planned moves at all. Just one on ones. Bryant can do it all night, but the rest of the guys can’t. Especially when facing a team like the Celtics, who have depth and size in the paint. Gasol and Bynum kept trying to force their way into the basket, and couldn’t get anything to drop.
Question is – Has Phil Jackson given up on trying to get this team to play ‘team’ basketball? Only 10 assists last night against the Celtics. Maybe he forgot, but as amazing as Kobe is, he won the title because of Gasol, Odom and Artest. Bryant was incredible 2005-2007 but didn’t have enough help to even get close to a title. He isn’t that good anymore, and without any help this Lakers team won’t be making even the conference finals. Jackson does look at times, a lot of times, as a guy just sittin’ there on the bench, waiting for time to go by as he strides into his pension days while fattening his wallet and thinking about his next memoir. Is he content with the Lakers playing like this? With a one on one offense that while gives Bryant great numbers and pushes him up the all-time scoring charts at lightning speed, won’t bring the Lakers anywhere.
Bryant doesn’t look too happy lately, because he looks and sees that’s nothing is working around him. He loves being the center of attention, getting the ball and scoring 40 a night. He loves it, and he can’t help it. Problem is, no more rings if the Lakers keep playing like this. Especially when April comes around and it gets a whole of a lot tougher. I’m not sure the Lakers can turn it on, again, come playoff time, after playing like this.