One down, two more to go for Kobe Bryant, moving up to third on the all-time scoring list, leaving Michael Jordan behind them. On the way, the Los Angeles Lakers won 100-94 against the Minnesota Timberwolves with Jeremy Lin, once again absent in the closing minutes, proving to be a very useful point guard when he actually did play.
The day belonged to Bryant, who had the game stopped in his honor, giving him the game ball, the moment he scored enough points to leave Jordan behind. It took him a lot more games and an almost obsessed way about him to reach that point, burning teammates, bridges and chances along the way, but who cares about all of that when there’s an individual achievement to be had?
For all of the tough time with give Bryant on this site (We’re pretty sure he’s not too worried about it), Bryant did play well in the final quarter, although once again Jeremy Lin was taken off the floor in favor of Ronnie Price, scoring two points and failing to score a field goal yet again. That’s right: The Lakers are giving a point guard who is averaging 3.6 points while shooting 28.6% from the field more minutes than Jeremy Lin.
Bryant scored 26 points on 7-of-20 from the field, but efficiency isn’t something he actually cares about these days. It’s all about the totals, and the spot his name is placed on the all-time list. He did score 10 points in the final quarter to keep the Timberwolves from encroaching on the Lakers’ lead, although Minnesota, with so many key players missing, are hardly a threat on anyone these days, and were led by Shabazz Muhammad with 26 points.
As for Lin, it’s clear to see Scott is trying to give him as few minutes as possible with Bryant next to him. Obviously, that’s hurting Lin’s minute total, playing only 20. He finished with 8 points and 6 assists, helping Carlos Boozer put on his finest performance since also becoming a bench player, scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. The Timberwolves are hardly an indication for anything these days (5-18, losing eight of their last nine), but it seems Scott’s mixes with different lineups are having a positive effect.
Bryant got the game ball in the end, and had local fans shouting M-V-P at him. These are the moments he lives for. After five rings, the dream of getting the sixth one disappeared the moment he took his huge two-year deal that prevents the Lakers for competing with anyone for it. What’s left? Scoring as many points as possible, and hoping his body holds up to allow him a shot at reaching the 38,387 mark set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar which has been standing for over 25 years.
The Lakers have now won three games in a row. Byron Scott’s changes to the lineup seem to be working on a team with a very weird balance: One player doing everything for himself and his own sake while the rest try to navigate through it and help him pick up wins he doesn’t really care that much about. Lin is part of that puzzle and deserves more minutes, but it seems that the less time he spends with Bryant on the floor the better it is for him.