News came out yesterday afternoon about Kobe Bryant’s stomach ailments. Despite being listed as “Questionable”, anyone with half a brain new he’d play & most, including myself, thought he’d come out firing.
Well, Kobe, as always, did his part registering 31 points despite being visibly ill, fatigued & nowhere near 100%. And yet again, the Laker big men, Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol, we’re nowhere to be found.
Kobe was asked if his teammates matched his heart. He did not hesitate in responding:
“No, of course they didn’t.”
He then added, “We let each other down, for sure.” “We didn’t step up and meet their energy and they know that.”
Gasol finished with a whopping 3 points and while Bynum’s 11 point, 16 rebound performance may not look that bad, it was clear that he did not bring the effort or intensity required.
When asked about the return of Metta World Peace, Kobe gave perhaps the most telling quote of the night:
“He’s the one guy I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with that sense of urgency, play with no fear,” Bryant said. “I’m looking forward to having that on my side again.”
Kobe is clearly frustrated with his teammates & has little faith in their willingness and/or ability to perform.
The Nuggets, however, got a great performance out of Ty Lawson as he dropped 32 points. Denver jumped out to a quick lead & controlled the game from the tip.
Looking at the team last year surrounding the Melo garbage to now, you can see just how great a coach George Karl is & just how unimportant Melo really was to this team.
Mike Brown, who has been criticized unfairly throughout the season in my opinion, stood by his star & did not hesitate to criticize his big men:
“Kobe being dehydrated and all that and sick as a dog, coming out and trying to will us to a win, it’s disappointing to watch him give that type of effort … and we don’t get it from everybody,” Brown said. “Our second- and third-best players are Drew and Pau and the reality is both of those guys got to play better in order for us to win.”
For Gasol, this is the 2nd straight post-season in which he’s failed to even show up. After performing well in previous playoff series & helping Kobe earn 2 more rings, he’s been a severe disappointment. Last year rumors of a bad breakup with a girlfriend attempted to explain his performance, but it’s starting to become the standard rather than the exception.
For Bynum, this is just another example of his incredible immaturity. One of countless he’s displayed since last season & throughout this year. Since commenting that close out games are “easy”, he’s been essentially a non-factor.
I believe the Lakers, behind Kobe’s pure will to win, will advance in this series with a home win in game 7. But if they are to have ANY shot at making it a series with OKC, Bynum will have to grow up real fast & Gasol will need to wake the hell up.