Kobe Tries, But Cannot Do It All

The evening after the appearance of Henry Abbott’s ESPN the Magazine article trashing Kobe Bryant, he did his best to almost single-handedly pull his team to a victory against a much better Phoenix Suns team, doing yeoman work in the fourth quarter, but succumbing in overtime. And, when I say a “better” Phoenix Suns team, that in no way should be seen as indicating the Phoenix is necessarily a good team, but it just refers to the fact that the teams in the NBA which are worse than the Lakers are few and far between. Kobe dismissed the article by saying that it’s not the first time nor will it be the last time he has been ripped in the press, and then went out and played extremely well.

Down by six at the end of the third quarter and with Kobe on the bench, the Suns’ lead had increased to seven when he re-entered the game with just over seven minutes left, and he

scored eight points (in a 2:05 minute stretch) as the Lakers outscored Phoenix 15 to eight in regulation. Phoenix then went on to score an amazing 20 points in the five-minute overtime, which if carried out at that pace for a full quarter would add up to 48 points, which, by the way, also translates to 192 for a full game. Kobe, Carlos Boozer and Wesley Johnson each hit a couple of overtime shots to keep the Lakers in the game, but turnovers by Johnson, Boozer and Ronnie
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Price and four shooting fouls converted to seven-of eight by Phoenix contributed heavily to the overtime debacle.

One of the Lakers’ key walking wounded, Jeremy Lin, did return to action, scoring 15 points, with four boards and five assists, in 24 minutes before fouling out. but Price was still the starter at point guard, performing abysmally again, and once again Wayne Ellington demonstrated that were he to actually win a roster spot he could well qualify for the title of “Worst Shooter” in the NBA. He hit on one-of-five last night, giving him a three-game streak of three-for-22, and 29%, and an amazing 8% (one of 12) on three point attempts for the season.

Another stat that portends not well for the upcoming season and demonstrates several major weaknesses in Lakers’ personnel is the fact that the Suns outscored LA in fast-break points,

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points, 30 to 11. Between the lumbering muscle guys up front that for the most part cannot move to save their lives, and the lack of youth, speed and athleticism, also for the most part, in the back court, this stat figures to be a common one in the immediate future.

And speaking of the immediate future, the Lakers are right back at it for their next-to-last exhibition game tonight against a solid Portland
that has always been a nemesis to the Lakers. Unlike LA, Portland is rounding into regular-season form, having lost their first two, then now on a three-game winning streak. The Trailblazers’ key guys, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and Robin Lopez, are all looking like they’re in mid-season form, and they have also added some new key personnel, including former Lakers Steve Blake and Chris Kaman. Kaman especially, who spent last season in Mike D’Antoni’s dog house, getting few and far between minutes, has had a great pre-season, shooting 62% and scoring 44 points and pulling down 37 rebounds, plus six blocks, in a total of only 81 minutes played. He’s going to have a great comeback season, and show the Lakers what they could have had at the center position.

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