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Can Kobe keep scoring like this? Is it good for the Lakers?

Jan 12, 2012, 2:28 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers' Bryant chews on his jersey during NBA game in Los Angeles Reuters

It’s the question Lakers fans are asking Thursday — can Kobe Bryant sustain this?

He scored 48 against the Suns Tuesday and 40 against the Jazz and long-time nemesis Raja Bell on Wednesday. Kobe now leads the NBA averaging 30.3 points per game. He is using nearly 40 percent of the Lakers possessions when he is on the floor and is maintaining shooting percentages right at what he has done the past few years. What torn ligament in his wrist? His legs have a bounce and quickness we have not seen in years.

If you doubt Kobe can maintain this pace you do so at your own risk. He can. He’s driven by the motivation for an MVP or to prove the hoard of critics out there. And when Kobe is motivated like this he can accomplish just about anything on a basketball court. Look at what Kobe said after Wednesday’s game, via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

“I scored back-to-back 40’s with a (bleeped)-up wrist,” Bryant said, his eyes still gleaming at the just-completed achievement. “What does it matter if it’s still (bleeped)-up in the playoffs?”

Kobe also says his wrist is healing, getting stronger. Sustainability is not the question Lakers fans should be asking. Rather…

Can the Lakers win long term with Kobe scoring like this?

The Lakers were struggling adapting to new coach Mike Brown’s ways and Kobe did what Kobe does — he took on more of the burden himself. He’s scoring at a rate we haven’t seen in five years, back when he had to cover for Smush Parker and Kwame Brown.

But now he has arguably the most skilled front line in the NBA to help carry that burden with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

Come the playoffs, teams that rely on one guy to score 40 a game don’t usually last long. They don’t win titles. Teams that get scoring from several sources — exploiting the best mismatch — do win. The Lakers can be that team. Right now they are not, and that’s fine against Phoenix and Utah in January. But if Bynum and Gasol are reduced to spectators for too long they will disengage.

If the Lakers are playing the same ball they are right now come March and April, that should worry Lakers fans. Because no doubt Kobe can sustain this pace that long if he wants to.

  1. captainwisdom8888 - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    The answers: YES and YES.

    There’s always a fire lit underneath Kobe Bryant, that’s just part of who he is, but recently it seems that fire has grown into a blazing inferno. The guy is getting older, some younger players are stealing some of his thunder, and people have alot of questions about the state of Kobe’s team, his wrist, his age etc. He’s emphatically showing the naysayers that he’s still Kobe Bryant and while most are trying to steal his crown away from him he’s showing some resiliency in not letting go of the notion that HE IS THE BEST THERE IS ON THE PLANET.

    I don’t care what ailments he has or how bad his team is, he’s the king, and I dare any defender to tell this guy otherwise…

  2. zblott - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Simply looking at how the Lakers have done over the years as far as wins and losses are concerned when Kobe doesn’t go to this high-usage extreme should tell fans this is a bad idea. We’re talking about a guy shooting 46% on a team with multiple players who are always over 50%. In fact, the Lakers do best when he doesn’t play at all (if you think W’s and L’s are important):

  3. crillbill - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Tim Tebow > Kobe

    • chitownmatt - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      I pray to GOD you are not serious…

      I would be happy to continue this discussion after Tebow wins 5 super-bowls.

  4. jrob1030 - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Kobe > Tebow > any other athlete

  5. crillbill - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Tebow>Lob City>Lebron>Kobe

  6. 00maltliquor - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Please stop hating on this man. If it were James, Durant, Rose or Wade people would be singing their praises from the mountain tops. Kobe seems to do no right by the media. “he shoots too much…he’s a ballhog…pass it more to the bigs who shoot over 50%…blah blah blah blah hate hate hate…” Jordan was diefied by doing the same damn thing. Shut up now and give Kobe his props. He is greatness.

  7. jagfan8030 - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Kobe is the best hands down

  8. makjak2 - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Teams that can exploit the best mismatch huh… haven’t we learned these 16 years that Kobe on ANYBODY is the best mismatch?

  9. gridirongoon24 - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Can Kobe sustain this? Yes…Can the Lakers win like this? Yes…Kobe is the smartest basketball player in the NBA. You don’t think he knows when to get others involved?

    Shut up and enjoy greatness, cuz its happening right before our eyes.

    Kobe’s only company in basketball excellence are players that no longer play the game.

  10. crillbill - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Kobe’s greatness has been gone a few years. Guards in the NBA age as gracefully as women that smoke. How great was he in last years playoffs?

    Lakers out in 1st round.

  11. lakerluver - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    crillbill, you’re an idiot. The LAKERS won 2 of the last 3 titles with Kobe leading them. He’s STILL the best player in the NBA.

    • crillbill - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:36 PM

      You really think Kobe Bryant is the best player in the nba?

      I wouldn’t put him in top 5. Maybe you could argue top 10.

      But seriously the best in the nba? I’m not sure what basketball you are watching.

      • 00maltliquor - Jan 13, 2012 at 3:13 AM

        Really, ’cause what basketball are YOU watching??

      • loungefly74 - Jan 13, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        wow…only 1 “thumb up” out of 34?!
        crillbill…sorry man, your street cred has been shot.

  12. jonstrum - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Just like the article suggests, Kobe’s scoring is great for the Lakers in the short-term while teammates are trying to learn Mike Brown’s system (I’m hopeful that there is one). But the Lakers will not go very deep into the playoffs with Kobe as a one-man army. Laker fans have seen what that looks like — in Kobe’s earlier days — and it isn’t pretty. Kobe gets triple-teamed along the baseline and the ball squirts out of bounds. The other Lakers stop playing and start watching Kobe play. All of this has already begun to occur…but the real damage will come later. Kobe learned the same lesson that Jordan learned….there’s no “I’ win “win”. And both players learned that lesson from the same coach. Whether Coach Brown can develop that level of trust with Kobe remains to be seen.

    • jonstrum - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:46 PM

      Oops…guess there IS an “i” in “win” But there is no ‘I” in “TEAM”. And teams win titles.

      • 00maltliquor - Jan 13, 2012 at 10:35 PM

        But there’s an I in titles!!!

  13. omniusprime - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    While in the short term it’s good to see Kobe score 40+ points per game in the long run it will hurt the team. I admire Kobe for his competitive spirit but basketball is a team game and teams win championships, not high scoring players. Ask Lebron about that. Kobe has to trust his teammates with the ball and has to get them into positions where they can get easy scores. Bynum and Gasol should get more touches and scoring opportunities to open up the court for Kobe to do his thing.

    If the Lakers are going to win another championship with Kobe Kobe has to get the whole team involved in the offense so they are more motivated to play tough defense. Kobe will be the main attraction and star for a few more years but he’s got to become more team oriented.

  14. lakerluver - Jan 12, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Crillbill, I’m watching the same NBA that Steve Nash is watching because he also said Kobe’s STILL the best player in the league. But, of course, you know better than he does.

  15. mobstera - Jan 12, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    crillbill=hater… No way kobe can be left out of the top 5

  16. namriverrat69 - Jan 12, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Kobe’s super stardom may have a little dust in these past few years with injuries but his greatness will never diminish. He’s always played with injuries which would sit many other players.

    He is the greatest player of his generation. He has play 16 years. Instead of trying to outdo each other with “Kobe criticism” everyone should sit back, enjoy and embrace the brilliance and heart that makes him so exceptional. Within a blink of an eye it will seem he will be gone.

    I’m a hockey fan and had the best seats right behind the shooting goal for his years in LA. To see someone of that caliber play so well they get taken for granted. Kobe and the Lakers will be just fine. Keep in mind this is entertainment value. Real life is outside the arenas of competition.


  17. dawkattack - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Hell No

  18. deshackle - Jan 13, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    I think Kobe should go see a psychologist and maybe discover the reason he can’t pass the ball. Perhaps it’s some kind of suppressed childhood memory locked deep down within his consciousness. I’m on to something here, Kobe refused to play with Shaquille O’Neal because he was politely asking for an occasional pass into the post area.

  19. soxpatsbscelts - Jan 13, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Three championships and then rap e accusations. Big ring, no credibility. You and big Ben. Yeah, awesome!

  20. wood5050 - Jan 13, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    people get real,it ok to hate the guy. you can,t hate the guy because he has the drive to be the best.when it,s all on the line the guy want the ball. JUST BE REAL

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