Kobe Bryant has a short memory, like all great players. He missed his first 15 shots of the game. He finished with an awful 3-21 from the field, which isn’t that surprising considering what we’ve seen this season. It had to happen at some point. But some things don’t change, and Bryant woke up at the right time, hitting the go ahead three pointer as the Lakers beat the Hornets 88-85.
It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. It wasn’t difficult at all during the first half. Despite Bryant’s terrible shooting, the Lakers were facing a team that came with only 8 players, with a 13-38 record. But the Hornets simply fought against one of the best home teams in the NBA, and the Lakers’ low confidence quickly showed. Losing three of their last five at home has done wonders, in a bad way, on their ability.
So Bryant kept shooting, and missing. He later spoke about taking good shots and simply not making them. Bryant’s idea of good shots is having only one hand in your face, because the Hornets did a great job, rotating players on the leading scorer in the NBA, contesting almost each and every Bryant shot. Like we said, being one of the greatest players of all time does funny things to your memory.
The Lakers fell behind in the third quarter, but Bryant, with a big, trademark fade-away shot, made it 75-67, and the pampered Staples center crowd was back in it. Bryant didn’t have much to do with the comeback. It was mostly great defense, A bit of Pau Gasol and a bit of Andrew Bynum. The big guys combined for 40 points, 21 rebounds and 4 blocks. The Hornets gave the Lakers quite a lot of problems on the boards, 47-47 in the end.
Bryant just waited for the big shot. And with 20.2 second, he hit the biggest one of the game, giving the Lakers the lead for the first time since the third quarter. This time, they didn’t let go against a banged up, and finally broken team.
Is it reason to celebrate? Not too much. The Clippers are breathing down their necks, and the Lakers are simply not playing well at the moment. Bryant won’t have night like these too often, with only 11 points while shooting 14% from the field. The problem is that Bryant doesn’t even think about serving as a decoy. He draws focus each time, but never believes in going cold, in being cold. It almost cost the Lakers the game against an inferior team.
There’s not much to do at this stage for Mike Brown. I think he did try to shake things up last week by benching Bryant and Bynum. It changed nothing. This is Bryant’s team, Bryant’s offense. If anything could have been done, it should have been done in January. The Lakers live and die on Bryant’s fourth quarter shooting, while the other guys try and make a game of it through the rest of the 36 minutes.