Is Kobe’s Sun Setting in LA?

Last night we watched a legend in decline, Kobe Bryant, fail to recognize the deterioration of his powers and cost his team the game. It made me wonder whether Kobe ever really understood that he can’t do it alone.

I know this seems like a reactionary statement, but Kobe has been playing losing basketball for the past two months. Manu Ginobili has been outplaying Bryant in April, and it’s not even close.

Right now Kobe just isn’t scoring efficiently. I’ve seen plenty of Lakers games in the last month or so in which Kobe has struggled to make shots against single coverage. Shots that are bad shots for every other player, but ones that Kobe regularly converts. Portland’s Batum did a great job on him, and even Arron Afflalo was able to force Bryant into an ugly shooting performance.

Last night, we saw an increasingly one-dimensional Kobe Bryant snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, one contested jump-shot at a time.

If you had to ask yourself what the main advantage LA has over OKC, you would immediately answer “height!” (or experience, if you are “Kinny” Smith). LA is enormous, but they lost game 3 because the one LA player without a significant size advantage decided to take all the shots.

And I don’t want to hear about how his Game 2 scoring outburst showed he’s “back.” He shot 43%, got a lot of freethrows at home, made them, and had 1 assist. You are bound to score some points if you try to shoot or go to the basket 35+ times in a game.

Let’s compare last night’s 4th Quarter Laker offense to the first quarter of game one, by far LA’s best 12 minutes.  In that opening quarter, the Lakers posted up three different players, Bryant, Bynum and Gasol, on their first eight possessions. The result: shots in close, free throws, no long misses that lead to Thunder run-outs, LA able to set up half court ...

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