2010 NBA Finals: Kobe Bryant Is a Great Player, But He Can’t Beat Boston Alone

Kobe Bryant's 19 point third quarter in Game Five of the 2010 NBA Finals would have been enough to break the spirit of most teams, but even his herculean effort couldn't offset the team-oriented Boston Celtics.

The Los Angeles Lakers are dangling on the precipice of another Finals' defeat at the hands of the Celtics, and the last two games have begun to bear an eerie resemblance to the Lakers' loss in 2008.

In that series Boston decided that Bryant was the only player who could hurt them so the primary focus was on preventing him easy access to the rim, and limiting his chances of creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

The strategy worked as the Celtics were able to execute their plan with near flawless perfection, and it seems they have gained momentum in this year's series by employing the same strategy in reverse.

Boston coach Doc Rivers has said Bryant is a great player, but he can't beat an entire team by himself, so the Celtics have concentrated their defensive focus on preventing other members of the Lakers from contributing.

This would seem like a fool-hardy decision considering the talent of players such as Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, but the Lakers have so far been unable to get any consistency from those three players.

Bynum's knee injury continues to limit his effectiveness, Gasol has spent the past two games proving how much of a non-factor he can really be and has Odom even played since the series shifted from Los Angeles?

If Bryant was frustrated with his teammates in Game Four, then Game Five may have been the boiling point as no other Laker besides Gasol was able to reach double figures, and he only did so in the fourth quarter.

Bryant's 38 points eclipsed the 34 combined points scored by the other Lakers' starters, and even though comments from Paul Pierce after the game may have seemed condescending, they were true.


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