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NBA Playoffs Lakers Suns Game 2: Kobe Bryant was Steve Nash like

May 20, 2010, 9:34 AM EDT

Bryant_points.jpgKobe Bryant was the best passer on the floor during Game 2.

Yes, Steve Nash was still on the floor. And he is still Steve Nash. But Kobe was taking pages right out of the Nash playbook all night long — including one third-quarter play where he was dribbling near the top of the key, nobody rotated on to Pau Gasol after he set the screen then rolled to the hoop (Amare Stoudemire was losing him a lot in the second half) and Kobe did a one-handed, right-out-of-the-dribble pass to Gasol for the layup. It was the kind of pass Nash does better than anyone in the league. But not Wednesday night.

Nash’s gift is his court sense, his vision. When he probes into the paint — especially off the pick-and-roll — he draws help defenders coming to shut him off. Nash’s ability to recognize where the help came from then make the defense pay by hitting that helper’s man with a pass borders on the supernatural.

Kobe was supernatural himself in this one.

If you double-team, you are by definition leaving someone open. In the first half, the Suns sent their help off perimeter players — and Kobe had three assists to Ron Artest on three-pointers. (Artest was even hitting the left corner three, something that he was shooting just 31 percent in the playoffs coming in and Phil Jackson has asked him to take less of. But when they are falling….)

The Suns learned and adjusted. They stopped doubling from the wings in the second half, in fact they didn’t double as aggressively at all. The Lakers ran more pick-and-roll more, and when the Suns defense was slow to rotate help, Kobe picked that apart. He was pinpoint in his passes.

Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop breaks this all down in video form — go watch the video that should have general managers around the league debating how much they want to offer Stoudemire on the open market this summer. But those defensive lapses only matter if you can exploit them. And Kobe is a very good passer who can do just that.

  1. Omnius - May 20, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Yet another shining example of how Kobe Bryant is the greatest player in the NBA currently. Kobe showed he has the heart and brains to be great, something LeGone James has failed to show so far. So funny that when the Lost Suns doubled him he showed them he could play Steve Nash’s passing game better than Nash can. The Lakers are exposing Amare Stoudemire for being yet another overhyped media miscreation and soon he’ll be joing Legone James LeGone Fishing!

  2. george - May 21, 2010 at 12:21 AM

    obviously, ominus you have no clue what your talking about. if kobe is so great then why did the suns beat the piss out of him the last 2 playoff series’s that they played?? kobe could surely handle them by himself right?? oh wait, no the only reason the lakers can win now is because the grizzlies gave them pau gasol for nothing. case closed.

  3. Sean - May 21, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    Its pretty hard for any team to win a playoff series with Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, Devean George, and Chris Mihm. Half of those players aren’t even in the NBA anymore. George you sound like an idiot.

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