Just like Kobe Bryant likes it, the Los Angeles Lakers beating the Toronto Raptors 129-122 in overtime was all about him and his statistics. Not that the others played badly, but it’s hard for Jeremy Lin especially to shine when Kobe Bryant takes over so dominantly.
Bryant become the oldest player in NBA history with a 30-10-10 triple double, finishing with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. He shot 11-of-24 from the field and 9-of-13 from the line, and on a rare occasion avoided taking tough shots from beyond the arc. He simply took them from a lot closer, which probably had something to do with his energy not running out late in the game.
Bryant also reached the milestone of 30,000 career points and 6000 assists, the only player in NBA history with that claim. It doesn’t make him a player that loves to pass, but when the ball is in your hands for so many possessions, your total numbers are bound to be this high. But it gave Bryant an opportunity to answer his critics and suggest that he loves to make his teammates better, while everyone knows there are a couple of things he loves more.
Jeremy Lin finished with just 11 points on 3-of-11 from the field. This was one of those games in which he turned into the actual shooting guard on the floor, never a good look for him. Bryant didn’t want anyone taking away the spotlight on his big night. Sure it worked, but just like that win in Atlanta was followed by frustrating losses, the fool’s gold of Bryant actually sharing the ball never lasts. Not having to guard DeMar DeRozan didn’t hurt as well.
With Bryant passing so much and both teams not playing a lot of defense, the Lakers finished with seven players in double figures. Nick Young scored 20 points off the bench, Carlos Boozer finished with 18 in one of those games in which he starts off well and that shows the rest of the way, while Jordan Hill had a double double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. He also had three blocks, including a huge one on Kyle Lowry in overtime to make sure it’s a comfortable ending for the Lakers.
Lowry actually fouled out, finishing with 29 points on a rough shooting night, resorting too many times to tough 3-pointers, making only 1-of-8. Jeremy Lin-opposing point guards often put up big numbers this season, but when Lin feels confident about the defense behind him and actually has support to make his defensive gambles (two steals in this game), he’s not a bad defender at all, despite the stereotype which has been chasing him since he entered the league.
The Lakers, like most teams in the West, are having a blast when playing the Eastern conference this season, even against the alleged best teams out there. This win doesn’t make the Lakers better than the Raptors or even generally good, but it does show that in games that turn into run and guns without any defense at all, the Lakers have what it takes offensively to keep up. Most of the time, Bryant taking up so much time with the ball isn’t going to end so well.