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Kobe fantastic in win over Blazers, but teammates still stress team play

Apr 11, 2013, 2:12 PM EDT

Bryant passes against Claver and Pavlovic during NBA basketball game in Portland, Oregon

How Kobe Bryant functions within the structure of the Lakers’ offense will always be a hot-button topic. Even when the Lakers win the game.

Last night Kobe was brilliant in the Lakers’ win over the Trailblazers, a win that kept the team in control of their own destiny to the playoffs. His 47 point, 8 rebound, 5 assist (with only a single turnover), 3 steal, 4 block performance was one for the ages, impressing fans and teammates alike.

However, in the wake of his tremendous night, there is still the question of whether that type of performance is best for the team in the long term. Yes, it led to a very important win and that can’t be lost in this discussion. But, if the Lakers are to really be a threat in the playoffs (should they make it), they can’t rely on super human efforts from Kobe. They must play a more balanced game and get more players going.

After the victory over the Blazers, a couple of Kobe’s teammates spoke to this point. From Dave McMenamin at ESPN Los Angeles’ Laker Index:

“It’s bittersweet,” Pau Gasol said when asked about Bryant’s dominating performance against the Blazers, in which he played all 48 minutes in a non-overtime road game for the first time in his career. “Because, I think it’s spectacular and it’s very impressive and it’s remarkable to be able to play 48 minutes and score 47 points. That’s incredible. On the other hand, I’m a player that likes to see a little bit more ball movement and better balance. I’ve always been [like that]. That’s just how I perceive this game.

“But again, he was incredible tonight. He scored a tremendous amount of points that I never scored in my life. So, like I said, it was very impressive and it’s not something that you do every night, of course.”

Over the years Pau Gasol has not been shy about speaking up about wanting the Lakers to play more team ball. As a long time teammate of Kobe’s and, more importantly, a major contributor to the Lakers’ last two championship teams, Pau has the stature and experience to say these things and to have them taken seriously. Gasol understands what it takes  to win a championship playing with Kobe and knows that it will take team play to get there. Sure, Kobe can — and likely will be — the focal point of the offensive attack. But more balance is needed.

Metta World Peace has also played with Kobe for several years and was also in the trenches with him in claiming a Larry O’Brien trophy. And he too speaks to the need for more contributions from Lakers not named Kobe, but comes at it from the perspective of those players seizing the opportunity rather than waiting for Kobe to give it to them:

 “The five guys that are on that floor? We go to work. We’re not watching. We don’t take pictures. That’s what you guys [in the media] are for, you take pictures. We’re not taking pictures out there. We can’t even bring a camera on the floor if we had a chance.”

Against the Blazers, the Lakers did get some very good contributions from other players. Gasol had a fantastic night both as a scorer and a facilitator. Dwight Howard was great as a finisher, making the most of his scoring chances and taking advantage of some great dishes from his teammates. All in all, those three scored 90 of the Lakers’ 113 points and did so in a very efficient manner.

But, in the big picture, the team won’t just need great nights from Kobe, Gasol, and Howard. They’ll need the entire team to contribute offensively (and defensively) if they’re to make any noise in the playoffs.

It’s good to be reminded of that even after a win.

  1. themars211 - Apr 11, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    My question to Mr. Gasol is what exactly has Kobe been doing this year…..he has been averaging almost double digits in assist most games. It amazes me that they can talk about ball movement but then a lot of times these guys don’t produce. He is damned if he does and damned if he don’t. If the Lakers miss the playoffs who do you think will shoulder all the blame? Its not Pau or Dwight or the MIA Nash…ITS KOBE!!!

    • eventhorizon04 - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      “My question to Mr. Gasol is what exactly has Kobe been doing this year…..he has been averaging almost double digits in assist most games.”

      Actually, he’s been averaging 6 assists for the season, which means he’s under 10 assists the vast majority of games…

    • borderline1988 - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      “he has been averaging almost double digits in assist most games”

      He has been averaging 6.0 assists/game this season. That’s a bit cleaner, don’t you think?

      It is true that Kobe is averaging a career high in assists. But you know why I still don’t consider him a distributor? Because Lebron James played on crappy Cleveland teams and they never had an issue making the playoffs. Same goes for Chris Paul on the Hornets. Those guys were incredible at making their teammates better. Kobe lacks that ability (and always did).

      “If the Lakers miss the playoffs who do you think will shoulder all the blame?”

      Are you kidding me? It will be Gasol, Howard, and the bench. Gasol has taken the blame every year since their last championship.

      • themars211 - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        Okay let me correct my original statement….for the year the calendar year he is averaging close to double digits in assist and you are very wrong when it goes all bad its always about Kobe….Hell you guys find fault with him for most everything….when the season started and he was doing what his position is suppose to do which is shoot the ball and let Nash distribute he was shooting too much…when he started to become more of a facilitator and became more of a point guard and distribute he was blamed for taking the ball out of Nash hand and not letting him run the offense. Ummm quick question what has Steve Nash done this year? What has Gasol done the entire year…not only the last few games…Dwight was clearly hurt and not in game shape for the major part of the year….so that leaves 1 person….Kobe and he will take the brunt of the blame if they miss the playoffs.

    • Clayton Bigsby - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:07 PM

      @the mars..on point..

      For many to actually watch the laker games. kobe is the only one consistent enough to produce. Metta said it best

      ” Obviously it’s not going to be Kobe Bryant-ish, but be as great as you can be, and as long as we stop watching Kobe and start doing what’s best for the team I think that’s going to turn into great team play”

      Kobe haters dont understand this is the dilemma..plus injuries, new coach, etc has put the onus Kobe to be the offense and facilitator the whole game…

      Petes, the last three games hes logged almost 45+mins per game in his 17th season…why because he has to. The team is not relieving him…

  2. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 11, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    There are two fundamental issues that have plagued the Lakers all year (beyond injuries):

    1. You can nitpick about Kobe’s game all day, but the fact is, when he has it going, the rest of the team is not only on the perimeter, giving him space, but not in position to box out on missed shots. Their defensive issues (especially in transition) start with the lack of offensive efficiency. Even when Kobe is playing facilitator and not shooting much at all, they turn the ball over like it is their job, and there is still a ton of standing around — lack of cutting by guys like Ron and Clark — when they get into that two-man game, or the high low with Gasol and Howard. Even in the pseudo-triangle that they run sometimes, the back cuts aren’t there. When the shots drop, that’s fine. It enables them to get back and set their defense. When they don’t drop, it leads to run outs, and they just can’t get back.

    2. Defensively, Kobe freelances far too much. Oh he’s still great on the ball, but, as you saw once again last night, he will completely play off his man, trying to anticipate steals and cheating over (somehow never getting called for illegal defense/3 seconds), and that leads to all those easy buckets that the Lakers give up in the paint. Dwight can’t clean up everyone’s messes.

    Offense as a whole isn’t an issue for them. They have been in the Top 5 all season offensively, and in the Top 10 efficiency-wise for most of the season, but their defense leaves a lot to be desired. When you have Kobe freelancing, and neither one of your PGs are able to stay in front of anyone, that’s what happens. Your frontline defense gets beaten a ton, and you leave Dwight responsible not only for his man, for rebounds, but for the guy who has severely beaten a gambling Kobe or a too-slow Blake or Nash. If Ron can get back into top shape by next weekend, maybe they have a shot to beat whoever they draw, but if they are going to beat ANYONE, they have to shore up their defense, plain and simple.

    — Laker supporter since 1985.

    • hoodheisman - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:04 PM

      Nice post and you hit on a lot of solid points, but the problem still begins and ends with the head coach or lack-there-of….

      One thing that’s become obvious in the Lakers last 7 or 8 games is Kobe is essentially coaching the team now. It was Kobe who went into halftime and called for the team to start trapping on defense. In the post game presser, D’Antoni was his usual lost and forlorn self when asked to justify the trapping defense. His only response was that it was Kobe’s idea and the team went with it. It was also Kobe’s directive to tell Pau to just run to the post and stay there. Kobe’s playing 48 minutes a game now because he’s subbing himself in and out of games. Not surprisingly, the Lakers are suddenly playing their best basketball since Phil Jackson stepped down (and all this without a point guard still).

      What Kobe needs to do now is let Dwight have more of a voice on defense. This team just doesn’t rotate off the ball and that’s how these small, quick teams are killing the Lakers. Both Kobe and Dwight have to take over practice and start practicing and emphasizing defensive rotations. For several weeks, Dwight’s voiced his concern that the Lakers just don’t “practice defense”. This has to change now… and Dwight and Kobe have to assume the leadership void and make this a priority.

      Lastly…. if there is any hope left in this train wreck of a season, the Lakers really need to take a look at what the “oldest team” in the NFL did this year. The Ravens were battered with injuries all year, limped through the regular season, barely made it as a wild card, but got healthy just before the playoffs and used their veteran leadership and experience to pull out a title. The Lakers have to do use that as their blueprint. Guys are starting to get healthy, especially Dwight and Pau. Now they’ve got to take advantage of their championship experience the same way the Ravens did. If it means Kobe coaching the team and Pau calling for more team work and Dwight calling for the team to start practicing defense… then it looks like the Lakers might be finally figuring it out….

    • steviegjd - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      I think you are mostly right here. Kobe’s freelancing and the inability of anyone on the team to guard quicker point guards makes their defense atrocious. The only thing I’d add is that so many of the players on the team are just not athletic enough. In addition to Nash (when not hurt) and Blake, World Peace, Gasol and Jamison just aren’t quick enough to keep up with defensive rotations. There is so little helping the helper that it is making Dwight lose his mind. There really is no way for Kobe to play 48 minutes, be the on the ball defender of the other teams best player within Kobe’s defensive range, run the offense and carry the scoring burden when other are not stepping up.

  3. eugenesaxe - Apr 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Hmm…Game was tied w/ 6 minutes to go, against a Portland team starting 4 rookies, and LMA dealing with a migraine.
    Seems to me Gasol and Co. should shut their holes and publicly thank Kobe for saving their collective rectums.

  4. baymac408 - Apr 11, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    No duh cuz that foo doesn’t pass the ball!! And he still threw up a lot of shots and wasted possession because he only had 5 assists.. Look at Lebron stats assists and rebounds compared to Kobe AND HE STILL gets buckets.. If I was in NBA I’d rather play with Lebron the Kobe.. Then again if rather play for the WARRIORS!! But get off Kobe’s nuts.. O and ill still work most of YOU in b ball so don’t start

  5. baymac408 - Apr 11, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    FAKER HATER SINCE 87- aren’t you from New York stupid a** mr wright..

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      And you can’t even read. Being from New York doesn’t preclude one from watching and enjoying the Showtime Lakers and the Kobe years, which is what kept me on board. Stop liking your own comments, also, troll.

      Knick fan by birth, first and foremost, and forever will be, through the 29, 33-win seasons. No one on here can question my allegiances.

      • progress2011 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        A dude from NY that is a FAKER Fan………That’s the sheer definition of a BAND WAGONER !

        Aren’t we all “TROLLS” ….since we all post on these blogs…..that’s STOOPID to call someone a TROLL when you post EVERY SINGLE-FRIGGIN DAY !

        What’s wrong with someone giving themselves a thumbs up…..that’s why the option is available…

        Once again…STOOPID comments from Mr. WRONG !!!

        Ahhahaha

  6. jmet11 - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Curious mr. Mars says Kobe averages double digit assists even though he averages 6 (and that’s his career high). Kobe will always be a volume shooter who people hate to play with.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      it’s funny how you say that but then everybody who plays with kobe ends up praising him and has nothing but respect for him. Dwight howard for example, he came to LA and he wanted to be the man and he didn’t like playing with kobe. Now what does dwight say in the interviews? Nothing but how he learns from kobe and his work ethic and how he needs to be more like him. please know what you are talking about before you talk crap.

  7. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    I will say, Gasol came to play last night (too bad it was against stiffs and inexperienced young guys). Not sure what he’s complaining about, when he had 20 touches, plus had a hand in another 10 buckets.

  8. decimusprime - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Your article says that the Lakers needed to play more team ball. I see three players with 20+ points. If any team gets that kind of production from three players in a win everyone would consider that a great win with solid team effort and scoring. On top of Mamba’s amazing night. Go Lakers! Go home haters!

  9. livepredictor - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    We’re not out there to take pictures! Classic!!

  10. baymac408 - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    I don’t even know how to like my comments clown your on here to much!! WESTSIDE!!

  11. jason0821007 - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    Kobe was a facilitator for the most part yesterday but team was so dumb to make 3 point FG’s or the even the defense. So, yeah deal with with it you losers. Next season resign D12, Kobe, Earl and Pau and the rest needs to make their way to other organizations if you want this Franchise to be in a good shape.

  12. progress2011 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    Well if this is a shock to anyone…..you have had your head buried in the sand the past 17 years.

    This guy has been a team cancer since he laced up his sneaks.

    Look at the list of Hall Of Famers and star players that had the same issue with his lack of understanding the game:
    1. Phil Jackson
    2. Shaq
    3. G.Payton
    4. Karl Malone
    5. Robert Horry
    6. D- Fish
    7. Rick Fox
    8. Etc.
    9. Etc.
    10. Etc

    Glorified Harlem Globetrotter/ And1 / Jack Up artist that is ruining the perception of how to play FUNDAMENTAL basketball for youngsters around the world, over the past 17 years.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:39 PM

      I think you are the one who lacks understanding of the game, stop talking..clown.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      Honestly just shut up, you’re an insult to laker haters. At least people like paulhargis or those hater magic fans show that they watch basketball, and while I don’t agree with what they have to say, I can at least respect that they have an opinion. You are just an idiot trashing another man’s career and all the people you mentioned respect kobe. just be quiet already. you don’t know anything about fundamentals or basketball.

      • progress2011 - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        booger…

        You mean Karl Malone – the guy that wanted to break kobe in tiny peices after he snitched on the entire team, after Colorado.

        Shaq- who hated the snitch for YEARS and only recently started to communicate with him because he is now a member of the media

        Phil Jackson – who said he is “UNCOACHABLE” in his book

        G.Payton – who called him out, several times for being a ball hawk

        D. Fish who said the guy was selfish, when he left l.a. and went to Utah

        Robert Horry and Rick Fox both have said he was not a team player

        Combine those FACTS with the current team members………My FACTS are clear.

        Stoopid FAKER fans have ZERO clue about apparently FUNDAMENTALS….ya’ll probably still think you can win 70 games this year……..AHAHAHAHAHA

        If if cared about your opinion, I’d tell you what to think !

  13. jason0821007 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    MWP need to STFU and play like a NBA level offensive game.
    This dude is not right in the head.

  14. lakerluver - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    @aboogy
    ph53 might watch basketball but that’s a lot different than knowing something about basketball. I told you before, you give him too much credit. I mean do you even pay attention to his comments? He’s clueless. Just this week he claimed Pau has no trade value. Oh, really?! The same Pau that since coming back has looked just like the Pau that is a perennial all star?! I’m starting to think you and ph53 are both the same guy. After all, he “is” known for using multiple usernames and pulling a lame stunt like that sounds like something he would do.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 11, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      please…. I like everybody on here that want to talk about basketball, I’m addicted to the game and I watch every minute of the lakers. that’s why idiots like progress makes me mad so I want to make it clear that there is a difference between his hate and guys who actually want to talk about basketball. I’ve been defending pau on these posts for years, I am one of the few guys who does NOT want to get kevin love for him. please don’t ever compare me to a celtics fan.

  15. chipiboy - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Kobe should pass the ball more in the end of games these days. When its late game situations while being a closebgame he has to pass the ball more. By playing all these minutes it gets him tired later in the game which doesent allow him to elevate as well and most likely forces a bad jumper. If this was the beginning of the season I would have no problem with him taking the last shots in the last 5 minutes.

    Give it to pau. He has proven he can make great decisions in late of the game but make sure he is in the post for an even more efficient shot. Please don’t go for a howard post up late just rely on pau and I promise he will deliver. Not many teams match up well vs the laker bigs so why not go to them. We can expect an efficient hook from pau or an easy lob to dwight.

    I am also a laker fan and I hate to contradict him but we can’t expect kobe to go and hit all the clutch 3s like the rraptors game.

    FEED PAU.

  16. philliephaninva - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Wait, Kobe is a ball hog? No way!

  17. ebrownwareagle - Apr 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Funny everybody he name Except Shaq, WHEN THEY WERE A LAKER… They were Roll Players! I want someone to say Rob Horry was a stud! Lmao! The man had a career avg of 7pts/GM…. Avg only 5 for the Lakers… Rick Fox- Roll Player…. So stop w/ the hate! And last I check Kobe played SHOOTING GUARD! Not passing guard! But we all kno Mike Jordan average 10assist/GM playing the same position Right People… Lol NO!

  18. jason0821007 - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    All the negative comments in every Lakers article are from the non laker fans who’s team may have got destroyed by Kobe at some point in the past. -_-
    You can rant all you want butter fact is, No player in the future can not be as great as Kobe after MJ. Period.

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      No player? Ever? Really? Somebody probably said that about Magic. And Wilt. And…. you get the idea.

  19. lakerluver - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Your username may be “progress” but you’re stuck in the past, numbskull. How about talking about what players and coaches have said recently about Kobe, not 5-10 years ago. As he changed and matured as a player, people’s opinions of him changed. You and pudhummer come on here and run your mouths about the LAKERS more than you support your own teams. Instead of regurgitating stuff from the past, find some new quotes about Kobe. If you don’t appreciate what he’s doing at this stage of his career, you don’t appreciate greatness. A true sports fan can hate a team but appreciate the greatness of a star player. I did it throughout Bird and MJ’s entire careers. I don’t like the Heat but only a biased fool would not appreciate the greatness of LeBron.

    • progress2011 - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Faker luver….

      The problem with you youngsters is…you don’t know your history. If you don’t know your history, you are doomed to repeat it.

      I presented FACTS about the history of FAKE MJ….because his behavior has not changed as of TODAY …..did you read the title and content of this article….

      I think yesterday and today are considered the PRESENT !!!!!

      Did any of you FAKER fans go to school AT ALL !!! An elementary student should be able to make the relation of the article and the FACTS I presented.

      His CURRENT Teammates don’t appreciate what he is doing….which is why this article was written ! It’s not just me !

      MO-RUNS !!!!

      • jason0821007 - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:05 AM

        Yep, you are one of those guys with the fake usernames who’s in TNT. I can tell… Lol

      • progress2011 - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        No clue what/ who you are talking to Jason. Is it possible you can formulate a complete sentence.

  20. lakerluver - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    @aboogy
    If you would rather have a 32 yr old Pau, instead of a twenty something year old K.Love, I don’t know what to say to you, my friend. I’m a Pau fan myself, but Love is younger, and more importantly, his game would mesh seamlessly with Dwight’s. Sure, he has flaws, but 25 & 14 doesn’t lie any way you slice it. Lastly, with Love, teams would almost be forced to play Dwight man to man. I respect your opinion but give me K. Love.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 12, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      I agree about how kevin love is a much more seamless fit with Dwight, and I think this deal is more likely than people think. Kevin love will be easier to fit into the offense because he spreads the floor with his shooting, and he can give dwight more space because he needs it to operate. Despite being an easier fit, I think the team has more potential with the better player, gasol. Gasol is older but next year is going to be a very important year, kobe’s last chance to chase the championship. The good thing about being a lakers fan is when our star players get old and retire, they are still a great destination for free agents, they reload, not rebuild. I can see kevin love coming to the lakers and then this time next year we will be complaining about how bad he is at defense or how we miss pau’s post up skills or something like that.

  21. steviegjd - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    While it would be great if the Lakers had more athletic players, or the right coach for the players they do have, this team just is too old and slow to defend well. And while Kobe is a part of the problem (with his regularly freelancing on defense), it is hard to imagine what else one wants of him. He cannot play 48 minutes and be an on the ball defender of the other teams best smaller player the whole time. It is just impossible for him at 32 with 17 years of mileage. None of the guards are good on defense. Eric Gordon made Meeks look like a D-league player the other night – and he’s our youngest backcourt player. Adding a 38 year old point guard who has wasn’t good on defense when was in his prime does not help. Howard is forced so often to protect the lane from someone who has blown by their defender, that his guy is open. Pau is too slow in switching. It is just an illconceived team defensively. I had hoped that Howard would help stabilize the defense more than he has, though when he has asserted himself defensively this year, he has been great. It just is not enough. I love this team more than anything. But I can see that just making the playoffs is the most we should expect this year.

  22. loungefly74 - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    that’s cool Pau is saying what he feels he needs to say…that said, he better produce when he gets the ball.

    okay…all this discussion about kobe’s game…well, I know I am happy with the Laker’s success since he has been there…

  23. frankyvito - Apr 12, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Kobe is one of the greatest and this yr could be his best if not most “valuable” yr he’s had. But I see Pao’s point. He shouldn’t have to be this great for them to win. This team’s too talented for that. There’s times when Kobe’s forced the issue when he’s had to and times when he didn’t. Last night may be a bad example of “Kobe fit into the system more.” But there’s been too many times this yr he’s had to shoulder a burden that he shouldn’t have to on a team this talented. How often is that gonna work?

  24. omniusprime - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    While Kobe is one of the greatest to ever play NBA basketball, basketball is still a team game and it takes a team to win. Yes Kobe can still light up the scoreboard against paltry teams but against the better teams it will take a team effort to prevail. Kobe has to listen to his teammates about sharing the ball and load. His teammates need to share his awesome desire to win and they need to step up their games, just as Kobe shows them by stepping up his game.

    If the Lakers play as a team then they can go far in the playoffs, even win an NBA championship. But only if Kobe embraces his teammates as equal partners instead of junior partners.

    Thanks Dr. Buss!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!! Go Kobe!!!

  25. valeb2012 - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    For all the Kobe haters, please stop it already. You guys sound foolish and petty. If you’ve watched the Lakers games this year (CY), especially after Nash went down and came back and struggled, Kobe is singlehandedly carrying the Lakers. There’s no one else on the Lakers who can dictate the offense. Blake — no. Who else is there? Kobe has the ball as much as any playmaker now. The difference is that he doesn’t have nearly the spot-up perimeter shooters who can pull the trigger. Artest? No. Clark? Nope. Jamison, ok. Blake, maybe. But it’s nothing like Battier-Miller-Allen or Jamal C-Green-Barnes or a trio of other teams. Now that Pau is back, the Spaniard is taking on some of the orchestrating duties (especially from the box and FT line extended). Why do you think Kobe loves Pau so much? Frankly, DHoward can barely create his own shot. He has no touch outside 5 feet. No one else on the team outside Pau can create a shot. They’re all cutters or scavengers.

    What Kobe has done this calendar year is remarkable. I’d say more impressive (in light of his 17 years in the assoc and his ridiculous minutes lately) than any other player in the league, even Lebron. Lebron has a better team and a better system. That’s not Kobe’s fault. Since the allstar break, Kobe’s averaging 28p, 6r, 7a! That’s on a team that plays at a snail’s pace at times, with the leading rebounder in the league, and Nash and Blake, the primary ballhandlers, each playing roughly 30mpg. Without Lebron, Miami is doing just fine. Without Kobe, the Lakers would be 15 games below .500. The number of games Kobe’s willed the Lakers to win is over a dozen this year — since the allstar break.

    The guy is a marvel. He probably would’ve averaged 10 assists per game post allstar break if his teammates shot even close to the league avg from distance (say, 36% instead of 30%).

    Put your dunce caps down and get your head in the game. What we’re watching — the minutes, the slide from 2 to 1 position this late in a career in a league that’s only gotten faster and quicker, the will — is unheard of. For a 34 year old man to be one of the top 5 players in the league (maybe top 3) still is astounding. As with Lebron, let’s just enjoy it while we can.

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