Sorry, Mark Cuban, but I don’t think the Lakers will be amnestying Kobe Bryant any time soon.
Whether or not Bryant was spurred on by Cuban’s comments that the Lakers consider ditching him to save money or not, he exploded with both huge numbers and high efficiency – for the second game in a row.
Today, Bryant scored 38 points (13-21 FG, 4-5 3-PT, 8-10 FT), grabbed 12 boards, and dished out seven dimes – one of which was to Steve Nash for a huge late-game three-pointer, the only Lakers basket in the fourth quarter that Kobe did not score himself.
Nash also contributed significantly today, scoring a season high 20 points (7-12 FG, 4-5 3-PT, 2-2 FT) to go along with four assists, two rebounds, and a steal.
In the first half, Nash looked as though he was still suffering from the tweaked back that hampered him on Friday against Portland, but in the second half he played great and looked healthy.
Not every Laker had a great game today, though. Metta Word Peace had a particularly poor game, scoring just one point (0-6 FG, 0-1 3-PT, 1-2 FT) to go along with just two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 37 minutes of play.
World Peace did play some stellar defense – especially in the final minute on Dirk Nowitzki – and his one steal did move him past Gus Williams and into 21st place on the career steals list, with 1,461.
Dwight Howard and Earl Clark also had sub-par games, but not to worry – Kobe had them covered, and the Lakers prevailed.
It’s also important to notice how the Lakers have been winning lately.
For the second game in a row, the Lakers won a nail-biter against a team also battling for the play-offs. Whereas neither team led by more than seven points when the Lakers played the Blazers on Friday, neither team led by more than six when the Lakers played the Mavericks today.
Make no mistake about it – the Lakers have become a team that wins close games, going 6-0 in February in games decided by single digits.
Today’s game – on the road, in the morning, against a hot and hungry team – was absolutely a must-win for the Lakers, if only because their next game is all but unwinnable.
The Lakers now head to the mile-high city to play the Nuggets on the second game of a back-to-back, which is one of the toughest wins in all sports. Denver is 23-3 this season at home, never mind when they catch teams playing the second game of a back-to-back.
Of course, it would be fabulous to come out of Denver with the win, and I’ll be cheering on the Lakers from start to finish. But a loss – even a blowout loss – would be made more bearable by today’s win in Dallas, and would not derail the Lakers march to the post-season.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
Kobe Bryant, for the second game in a row, put up big scoring numbers while shooting efficiently, and tonight he was also a triple-double threat.
Playing in his first game since Mark Cuban suggested the Lakers should at least consider parting ways with Bryant to save on the luxury tax, Bryant – with Cuban watching – scored 38 points on just 21 shots, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out seven assists, and had a key block.
Top Two Tweets in My Twitter Feed
“Gutsy performance by two desperate teams on national TV. But holy cow, that was a virtuoso performance by the Black Mamba.” – @Cliff_Kim1, post-game tweet
“I believe in this team. They will do it.” – @AJRoss94, post-game tweet
Monday, February 25 at the Denver Nuggets, 6:00 p.m. PST