Coming into Dallas with his team down 0-2 to the Mavericks, Kobe Bryant knows that it will be an uphill battle to get back into the series and revive any hopes of the Lakers advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
“It’s just about doing what we do right. We haven’t done it right,” Bryant said. It is clear that Bryant is referring to his team as a whole and not just to himself in particular. There is not much more that the Lakers can ask of Bryant as he has performed remarkably well in the semi finals.
In the two games against Dallas, Bryant has averaged 29.5 point on 46.7 percent shooting. However, he has picked and chose when he wants to contribute elsewhere. In game one he did not record a single assist. In game two he had three. He grabbed five rebounds in the first game and did not have any in the second. The rebounding numbers should not concern anyone. He is out there to score. Los Angeles has plenty of players whose job it is to be window washers.
It is apparent that Bryant still has the resolve of a champion and has displayed it thus far. Yet, his team has not followed suit. Yes, the Lakers have been the better rebounding team, but their scoring has been sub par. Los Angeles has an effective field goal percentage of .440 against the Mavericks. Dallas, on the other hand has one that stands at .510. The Mavericks are getting good open looks against a Lakers defense that is second guessing itself and not operating as a unit.
Coupled with that is the Mavericks’ high free throw shooting percentage. Putting them on the line is just as dangerous as leaving them open for a jump shot. For the series they are shooting 81.3 percent from the line. The Lakers are only shooting 70 percent.
Bryant is the alpha and omega of the Lakers. He has been for some time. Ultimately it will be him having to shoulder the burden of his team’s eventual success of failure. That will begin tonight as he will be forced to play more at the small forward with the suspension of Ron Artest. It will also mean that he will have to play more as the bench will likely be down a man as Lamar Odom expects to start.
The Lakers must come together. Pointing fingers does no good, they are a team and they will all experience the same end result. It is up to Bryant to rally his teammates together to make one last push, if he cannot do that, their fate will be playoff elimination and a summer replete with questions.
Image via @Stevallica