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The Disappearing Kobe Bryant

Black mambas often live lonely lives.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.

Matthew J. Darnell

9 Comments

  1. it seems that the lakers are eternally plagued by weak pick n roll d… either from bigs that are unable (kwame) or unwilling (shaq) to come out and force the offensive players to make harder decisions

    kobe haters have to face the facts that as miraculous as he can be sometimes, there’s no way the lakers win game 7 unless he gets some help out there, even if he bombs for 50 in the second half. all this talk of sabotage and/or proving how important he is to the team is ridiculous, almost as much as that black velour suit kenny had on last week

  2. Kenny Smith on TNT pretty much hit it on the head, Kobe is in a situation where he will get criticized either way. Heck even when the Lakers won, he was criticized (i.e. why didnt he do this all year long).

    But thats the image hit Kobe as taken over the years. So whatever he gets, it is a result of his own doings from the past (and i’m not talking about rape allegations).

    Having said that, I agree, he wasn’t trying to sabotage his team. And I take him at his word, that he felt like if they were gonna get back into the game and win, it was going to have to be a team effort. That’s how they won the games earlier in the series and that’s how they were gonna have to win that game. It totally makes sense. He has nothing to gain by proving a point.

  3. Lets put the blame for this ‘up 3 to 1’ debacle squarely where it belongs – right in the lap of the most over rated, disinterested coach ever, Philly Jackson. The Lakers are about 4 years and 4 starters away from being a contender. And if anybody thinks Phil has either the patience or the ability to rebuild the Lakers, they’re sadly mistaken.

  4. So when do we get to hear Kobe answer questions about how he feels about the Clippers outlasting the Lakers in the playoffs? I want more journalistic gems like, “What do you want – a cookie?”

  5. I like what you are doing MJD. Keep it up, Great work!
    Can do me a favor, and hook me up with your buddies at Dead Spin?

    Why buffalo???!!!

  6. Why buffalo? Because they are handsome and majestic animals. I dunno.

    Exactly how do you want me to hook you up? What do you need?

  7. Great white buffalo by ted nugent rules. Can You help me hook up with your buddies at deadspin. I wake up to you every day then set around for your buddies to wake up and talk. And I would like to be able to talk back.

  8. You can’t quit in a game 7 just cuz you’re down. Iverson wouldn’t have quit. Lebron actively took the double team with him as far away from the basket to cause problems for the wizards when they doubled him up high. I would say the wizards D is 20 times less craptacular than the suns D too – Kobe could have at least gotten some assists on the suns. Also the suns are notorious for letting teams get back into the game even when they’re up by 20. 3 shots? 1 point on a defensive 3 second free throw? I’m not buying the “MVP” decided to follow the game plan like coach said routine. Dude mailed it in. In the regular season, he scored 81 on the crap defense of the raptors cuz his teammates weren’t any good. In game 7, he scored 1 in the 2nd half against the crap defense of the suns cuz those same teamamtes should have been carrying the load?

  9. so if kobe shoots 3 for 15 in the second half, he shoots his team out of the game. if he goes 12 for 15 and they lose, he’s a ball hog that can’t help the team with his selfish scoring ways. if he completely catches fire with 15/15 and they win, he’s still a selfish player that doesn’t trust his teammates

    exactly how picky do you want to get? don’t you have message board fights to start over typos?

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