Skip to content

Kobe’s 14 assists facilitate Lakers’ win over Thunder

Jan 27, 2013, 8:06 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

The Lakers seem to have found some life recently, in this season that seemed more and more like one that would die without a playoff berth despite the massive amount of talent that’s been assembled on the roster.

Kobe Bryant dished out 14 assists for the second straight game, and the results in each have not been a coincidence. The Lakers beat the Thunder on Sunday 105-96 for the team’s second straight victory, and the formula for L.A. is beginning to become established.

Distribute the ball evenly offensively, and players will remain engaged and invested on the defensive end, which not-so-magically will create a culture of winning that everyone can be a part of.

It starts with Bryant, who was in facilitator mode once again. He finished with 21 points on only 12 shots, to go along with nine rebounds and the 14 assists.

The question now becomes, can Bryant sustain both the level and style of this performance throughout the season and into the playoffs to give his team a fighting chance. It’s too early to tell, but a comment he made afterward might be viewed as a sign that it’s a possibility, at the very least.

“This feels a little different. Feels like we found an identity,” Bryant said, as reported by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

L.A.’s talent has never been at issue; how the team has chosen to use that talent to this point is what the problem has been. Some of that was due to players missing time due to injury — an extended absence from Steve Nash to start the season, followed by a five-game stint where Pau Gasol was unavailable due to a concussion may have prolonged the team’s ability to come together in this way.

The statistics support the notion that L.A. is better with Kobe passing more than he’s shooting: The Lakers are 13-3 when Kobe Bryant takes 19 or fewer shots in game, and 6-22 when he takes 20 or more shots, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

The numbers also bear this out in terms of his teammates’ shooting percentages.

Pau Gasol was 7-10 from the field, Steve Nash was 6-11, Earl Clark was 5-9, and Antawn Jamison was 4-6 (in just 13 minutes off the bench). As a team, the Lakers shot better than 55 percent from the field, and made over 41 percent of their attempts from three-point distance.

It didn’t hurt that both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had an off day shooting, with the pair combining to go 16-48 from the field over the course of the game. It wasn’t necessarily due to anything special the Lakers did defensively, especially where Westbrook was concerned — the Thunder were playing the final game of a six-game road trip that the team finished just 3-3, which may have factored in to the lackluster Sunday afternoon performance.

The Lakers’ second straight win still puts them at just six games below .500 for the season, and the team still trails eighth-place Houston by four games for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. But beating the best team in the league record-wise will help L.A. mentally, and as long as Bryant can continue to facilitate as he did in this one, the Lakers may have finally found their blueprint for winning with this roster.

Latest Posts
  1. LeBron after Cavaliers fall to Nets: ‘You don’t chalk up losses’

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:44 PM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron refused to be dismissive of a seemingly harmless regular season loss.

  2. Shaquille O’Neal says he regrets leaving Magic for Lakers

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Orlando Magic add Shaquille O'Neal to team's Hall of Fame Getty Images

    O’Neal made the remarks while being inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.

  3. Draymond Green launches “It’s cool Glen” line of T-shirts in latest banter between him, Doc Rivers

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    b2644bf0-d4c9-11e4-bb85-27743e449672_csg

    The battle between Green and Doc Rivers continues in the funniest of ways.

  4. Cavaliers coach David Blatt: ‘LeBron James is our MVP’

    Mar 27, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game 1 Getty Images

    Blatt knows James is unlikely to get the league-wide award this season.

  5. No Durant, what does that mean for Thunder in these playoffs? Trouble.

    Mar 27, 2015, 6:12 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

    The Thunder defense has become a mess, which is bad for the playoffs.

  6. Report: UNLV freshman guard Rashad Vaughn to enter NBA draft; Vaughn denies it

    Mar 27, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    San Jose State v UNLV Getty Images

    He is likely a middle second round pick if he comes out.

  7. Blake Griffin nails impression of Austin Rivers (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    It’s pretty spot on. And cold-blooded.

  8. Kevin Durant to have third foot surgery; is done for season, playoffs

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:09 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    He should be back next season, the final one of this contract with Oklahoma City.

  9. High praise: Bob Cousy says Hassan Whiteside reminds him of Bill Russell

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

    Cousey said not Shaq, not Ewing, nobody reminded him of Russell like Whiteside.

  10. Report: Salary cap could rise to $105 million in 2017-18

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    AP Money Found AP

    As everyone braces for 2016 spike, another big bump could follow

  11. Goran Dragic leading feisty Heat’s playoff push

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:55 AM EDT

    Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven

    LeBron James and a lot of stature are gone, but with the more-modest goal of just making the playoffs, Miami’s new point guard embracing the challenge

  12. Anthony Davis made 100 free throws in arena after Rockets loss

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:19 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Pelicans star missed eight free throws in setback to Houston

  13. DeMarcus Cousins has response for fan who tells him to stop complaining about calls

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Houston at Sacramento Getty Images

    Cousins has gotten better, but he still has yet to hear a foul call he liked.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5901)
  2. K. Lowry (5623)
  3. L. Aldridge (5568)
  4. R. Rubio (5553)
  5. N. Batum (5202)
  1. G. Monroe (5034)
  2. A. Shved (4949)
  3. P. George (4881)
  4. B. Knight (4854)
  5. D. Rose (4814)