It’s a bit of a mystery as to why Kobe Bryant took just three shots and scored 1 point in the 2nd half of Saturday’s Game 7 against the Suns. Who knows why Kobe does anything, but here’s my best guess.
The game started out with the Lakers going through their “Let’s get everyone involved” act. Kwame Brown was getting great looks in the post, and missing easy shot after easy shot. Clearly, nerves were bothering him. Lamar Odom did a little bit of the same, and the Lakers worked themselves into a pretty substantial hole.
In the 2nd quarter, Kobe took over a little bit, and while he shot well, and hit his usual impossible shots, the Suns lead grew. The Lakers defense was so atrocious, that even with Kobe hitting everything he threw up, the best the Lakers could do was trade buckets… which is not a winning proposition if you’re down 20.
So the only way for the Lakers to limit the Suns offense at all was to limit their number of possessions. Slow the game down, pound it inside. Which is what they tried… and again, what they sucked at. Not even Brian Cook could hit a shot. And by the time the 4th quarter rolled around, it was hopeless, and Kobe sat a lot of the 4th anyway.
That’s my best guess as to Kobe’s thought process. I’ve heard people say that he was trying to teach the team a lesson, that they can’t win without him scoring, but I don’t buy that. Now, I think that’s something he’s done before… particularly when Shaq was around. I think it’s happened before. But in a Game 7, there’s just no way he’s going to sabotage his team to make a point… that just doesn’t make any sense. Love him or hate him, I think you at least have to concede that in a Game 7, he’ll do whatever he thinks is best for his team to win.
But yeah, the Lakers were terrible on Saturday… and the Suns were phenomenal. It was the perfect storm. The Suns shot the ball extremely well, they had their tempo, they seemed energized by the crowd and the situation, and they were great. And as great as they were, the Lakers were bad… Kwame Brown and Smush Parker in particular seemed overwhelmed by the atmosphere, which is not good, particularly for Smush, because he’s not much of a player to begin with.
If they could’ve replaced him with even an average point guard, I think they win the series. He made bad decisions on offense, was no threat to hit any kind of a shot, letting Nash roam around and double-team anyone he wanted, and he couldn’t even think about pretending to guard Steve Nash on defense. And, in Game 7 in particular, Kwame Brown was terrible on defense. Just as stiff and clueless as you could imagine. They put him in any kind of a pick-and-roll, and it was an automatic bucket.