Kobe Bryant vented out some of his and Pau Gasol’s aggression after the loss to the Phoenix Suns, and the Los Angeles Lakers actually looked better after that lengthy tirade, with Bryant leading them with 28 points to a 103-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
All the trade talk has clouded the fact that the Lakers have won four of their last five games and five of their last seven, which began by beating the Boston Celtics in overtime. The Lakers have the same problem they’ve been having all season – No reliable scoring at the Small Forward position, and a Point Guard who knows that he wouldn’t be starting for any other team in the league.
The Lakers stormed the Blazers in the first quarter, and after the 29-7 score 12 minutes into the game, it was all over. Bynum and Gasol combined for an impressive display in the paint. Gasol finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Bynum had 14 points and 19 boards, with the Lakers out-rebounding the Blazers 51-37.
Problems at point guard you say? For once, Steve Blake came off the bench and had a good game. His best in Laker uniform in fact. It had nothing to do with the way he ran the floor. He only dished out one assists, but finished with 17 points against an ultra-soft Blazers defense, looking uninterested in winning this game from the first moment.
At 19-13, the Lakers are 5th right now in the West, one game behind the Clippers in the division. It’s hard to see them not making the playoffs, despite all the problems. It’s just that we’re not used to seeing the Lakers like this. No depth, and over reliant on Kobe Bryant, who keeps talking about wanting to win that sixth title has his one and only goal, but he knows there’s no way of getting one in the current situation.
With 28 points and another night of wild shooting, which ended up going pretty well for Bryant (13-26 from the field), he continues to lead the league in scoring with 29 points. His field goal numbers – 44.3%, are the lowest for him since 2004-2005. His three point shooting is even worse, at 28.7%, his lowest in ten years.
Kobe hasn’t stopped shooting in recent weeks, despite the lack of noise. Jeremy Lin’s been grabbing most of the attention, while Bryant keeps shooting, and at least in the last three nights has been doing it rather well, averaging 32 points while shooting just over 50%, averaging 25 attempts a game.
The Lakers are were they should be, more or less. A playoff team in the lower half of the bracket, with no real hope of winning anything this season. Their next two games – two very tough road games at Dallas and Oklahoma City, will probably show just how well equipped this team is of handling teams, that on paper, are better than them.