Any win for the Los Angeles Lakers is cause for celebration, although it came with a bad game from Jeremy Lin, while Kobe Bryant put on one of his most balanced performances that included a triple double in the 111-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
After looking like he wasn’t taking open shots on purpose in the loss to the Suns, Bryant seemed a bit more focused and intent on helping others instead of himself but with the right kind of balance, going 20-11-11, which is no small feat at his advanced age. He got plenty of help from others as well, including Carlos Boozer with 19 points, Ronnie Price with 18 (five 3-pointers), 16 from Wesley Johnson and 12 from Jordan Hill.
Jeremy Lin? After a confident and most of all very good performance against the Suns which called for him to get more minutes, he suffered another regression in a season filled with ups and downs for a player that can’t seem to find the place he deserves on a team that can use any bit of help it can get. Lin scored just four points on 1-of-6 from the field, adding four assists. He played only 15 minutes, as Scott continues to toy around with his minutes and role.
There’s an interesting theory about Kobe Bryant which makes more than a little sense if you’ve been following the career of this man and especially during the moments when things haven’t been going so well. Even when Bryant isn’t playing selfishly and taking 25 to 30 bad shots a night, he’s still being selfish. He’s simply letting the flames simmer down by refusing to take shots and doing some sort of scoring strike, spreading the ball around so people will say that Bryant isn’t just a ball hog.
His performance against the Nuggets? On one hand a triple double with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists while taking only 11 shots. Balanced, smart, passing when he needs to and not passing up on easy shots or good looks just so fans say he passes the ball. But Bryant kept taking tough shots – he simply made them this time. His 37.5% field goal percentage this season teaches us it usually doesn’t end this well.
He also turned the ball over nine times, making it 14 in his two games since coming back from his rest. In short? The Lakers need more balanced efforts, more or less such as these from Bryant. When he does it because it’s what’s best for the team and not to prove his a point in his endless battles with the media and critical fans with his image and legacy being the first thing that interests him, he’s a pretty useful player to have.
And Jeremy Lin? One word. Consistency. From him, but also from Byron Scott. Just like with Kevin McHale, Lin seems to be the only player held accountable for playing badly or not shooting well. Using a player, his role and his minutes like a yo-yo never helped anyone bring out the best of him to his team. Lin needs to start making shots at a consistent level, but Byron Scott doesn’t have to punish him any time he makes one mistake. There are others that are immune to that treatment for some reason.