Kobe’ll Get His No Matter What ………
OK so Kobe Bryant has proved once again why he might just be the greatest offensive presence there is in the NBA today. Not only has he lived up to the expectations one believed his talents belied. But the euphoria over the player now borders on a God like status and adoration of the player.
But there are opponents of this view who see and feel that LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers may well be the better player at this juncture in their careers. Well last night night Bryant took it upon himself to drop 61 points on the lamentable New York Knicks. Whose defense shall we say is about as notable as that of the Trojans’ defense of Troy when they came under the attack from the Greeks. Suffice to say there was no wooden horse needed here to break down the Knicks’ defense at Madison Square Gardens last night. Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers had their way with the team.
Wilson Chandler of the Knicks tries to defend the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Doug Watts …………
Defense at times doesn’t appear to a part of the Knicks’ culture under the Mike D’Antoni tome when it comes to coaching. And when it does happen it’s something of a rarity to those who follow the game as well as the Knicks as a whole. Now far be it for me to say that the expectations perceived when D’Antoni took over from the woefully inept Isaiah Thomas would be high. But the mere fact that at this point of the season they’re close to exceeding last year’s win total of 23 games. That does indeed tell you how far they’ve come. At 21-26 they stand a full 18 games behind the Atlantic Division leading Boston Celtics(40-9). But there’s hope amongst their most ardent of fans that this’ll be the year that we’ll see a turnaround from the team. They’ve been playing well but not consistently well enough for one to believe that they can make the playoffs. The jury is still out on that at this juncture.
Last night’s game however was a thrill a minute in terms of the offense that was on display. The result itself speaks for itself whereby the Lakers won the game 126-117 with Pau Gasol ably supporting Bryant by throwing in 31 points himself. The Lakers’ bench combined for 19 points , leaving the starters to produce the majority of the scoring on the night. Through each of the four quarters the scoring was somewhat even. But it was Bryant’s display , range and wide variety of shot making that had the fans beguiled and no doubt the viewing audience and analysts alike searching for the right words to describe the player’s feat.
Duhon of the Knicks tries to drive the lane under the watchful and defensive eye of the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Doug Watts ………….
With Bynum going down injured and the play of Lamar Odom bordering on being nauseous to say the least. It’ll now be down to Bryant and whoever is prepared to step and take on the mantle in adding some added offensive and rebounding presence on this team . Gasol has proven that he can do it. But nowhere near the consistency that coach Phil Jackson requires. As to who of their bench players would be capable of assuming this mantle. The one player who I feel might be well suited to this may well be Trevor Ariza. He’s certainly tenacious enough and possesses that desire and will to succeed. But it’d be far fetched to believe that he’ll be the cure to what ails the Lakers with the loss of Andrew Bynum for an indeterminable period of time. But if nothing else it’s better to have Ariza on the court than anyone else on their bench.
Wilson Chandler and David Lee look to sandwich Bryant of the Lakers who’s in pursuit of the loose ball. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Doug Watts …………….
As to Bryant , last night’s offensive output was a record for a game played between the two teams. And it certainly now adds fuel to the fire as to who is playing the more consistently of the two, between Bryant and James. Both players have their own legion of fans. And both are equally aplomb of showing off their skills as and when they wish. They’ve both taken on the leadership mantle for their respective teams and if nothing else this may well be down to the fact of the Olympic experience of Beijing. If anything the influence of Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching seems to have rubbed off on both players.
Ariza of the Lakers shoots against the Knicks with teammate Lamar Odom looking on. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Doug Watts ……
Over the next few months it will however be interesting to see how the Lakers will fare. The loss of Bynum while significant oughtn’t to waylay the Lakers’ chances of making the playoffs. However it does make them somewhat more vulnerable. And no doubt many of their Western Conference foes will look upon the situation to inflict further pain and suffering upon the team if they can. The San Antonio Spurs seem to have found their footing. And though Tim Duncan and his teammates aren’t viewed as the team to beat. They’ve a way of appearing ominously dangerous to those who’ll view them as nothing more than a team whose window of opportunity has come and gone. It’d be foolish to write them off as they’ve seen it all before and have acquitted themselves well as and when needed. But after last year’s bitter loss in the conference finals to the Lakers. Nothing would be sweeter for them than to exact revenge on the team deemed everyone’s favorites to win it all in the West.
Gasol of the Lakers pulls down a defensive rebound with the Knicks’ David Lee looking on . picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/Doug Watts……..
So as we’re close to reaching the halfway point of the season. What seemed to have been ordained might just be turning out to be something of a thrilling event for those who’d care to watch what will happen in the ensuing months. Can the Lakers succeed or will they fall because merely because of the absence of Andrew Bynum ? He was sorely missed last year. And no doubt this time around there’s that feeling of déjà-vu once again. The irony isn’t lost on their fans or the organization as a whole.