Kobe Bryant didn’t have a Michael Jordan kind of night, as much as he would love to. He didn’t have the support Jordan had, that night against the Utah Jazz. Bryant seemed just as sick and ill, pumped up with IVs, but he alone was no match to the striding Denver Nuggets and Ty Laswon, who tied the series at 3-3, giving us a game 7.
Things don’t look good for the Lakers, who have now lost three of the last four games against the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant is playing his best basketball of the season, averaging 31.2 points for the series. He even lost the ball-hog label, shooting 13-23 from the field against the Nuggets, his second 50% night during the series. Again, with the rest of the guys playing terrible, Even Bryant’s -/+ showed -28.
Bryant’s lowest moment of the game was his foul on Kenneth Faried, aiming for his head as Faried rose to the basket and got clocked. Bryant got called for the Flagrant foul, which was an act of frustration and hopefully a rallying call for his teammates. It wasn’t. And I’m guessing if the guy called for the foul wasn’t called Kobe Bryant, he wouldn’t have been playing in Game 7.
Bryant did share his view on the foul and the game:
The Lakers lost the game very quickly. Ty Lawson set the pace for a 30 point first quarter and 36 in the third. The Lakers, built to beat teams with body, beef and physicality just couldn’t keep up. Laswon finished with 32 points and six assists. The Nuggets scored 113 points, shooting 51.6% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. They didn’t even need JaVale McGee to shine and dominate against Bynum and Gasol.
McGee played 20 minutes, crippled by foul trouble, finishing with only 2 points and 5 rebounds. But the defensive pressure by the entire team just made everyone on the Lakers except for Kobe Bryant just kept the rest of the support squad out of their comfort zone. Andrew Bynum was again just OK, finishing with 11 points and 16 rebounds. Pau Gasol gave his worst game as a Laker, finishing with 3 points while shooting 1-10 from the field.
I don’t know how Mike Brown is planning to rally the troops and bring them back their confidence. There was no energy from the young legs and the experienced legs around Bryant. Nothing came from the Lakers bench, who got to pamper their stats only because of the very long garbage time. Corey Brewer (18 points) and Andre Miller (12) outscored the entire Lakers bench.
Bryant seems to know the answer to the Lakers’ problems – calling out his teammates, and getting Metta World Peace back from suspension.
He’s the one guy that I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with that sense of urgency and no fear. I’m looking forward to having that by my side again. You have to emotionally put yourself with your back against the wall.
And kind of trick yourself, so to speak, to feel that there’s no other option but to perform, but to battle. When you put yourself in that mindset, then your performance shines through. It doesn’t matter what the defense does, it doesn’t matter if you get fouled. It doesn’t matter. We have a small margin of error, but we’re still a championship-caliber team.
Maybe it was the illness, but after what we’ve seen from this team for long stages of this season and for half of their first round series against an inferior team; a team they should have handled much better by utilizing their size advantage, Bryant sounds delusional when he talks about title chances.