LA Lakers: Kobe Bryant’s Toughness Bringing Swagger Back to Lake Show

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is one of the toughest to ever play the game. He's unusually adept at being able to shut out the pain and play his game at a different level. Now he's starting to inspire his teammates to match him. 

It's to the point that we've virtually forgotten about the fact that he's still playing with a torn ligament in his shooting wrist and we hardly even pay attention to that because he's also playing with a broken nose and a face shield. 

Yesterday, while he was metaphorically playing with his shooting wrist and nose tied behind his back, he wasn't just playing—he was playing at an MVP level. Offensively he dropped 33 points on just 23 shots.

Defensively he was shutting down Dwyane Wade, one of the top five to 10 players in the league, holding him to just 16 points on 17 shots, forcing him into five turnovers and fouling out for the first time in over three years. 

There was a lot of talk about how the Lakers would respond to Wade breaking Bryant's nose and whether they would have a hard foul delivered to the Heat star. This was better. He responded by just flat outplaying Wade.

His toughness is starting to impact the rest of the roster. There were two indicators that his swag was hiving an impact, particularly on two players—Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol. 

World Peace had his best game of the season by far, and he had it against LeBron James, especially defensively. James scored 25 points, but he took 26 shots to do it. World Peace held James to 4-of-13 shooting while he was guarding him, flashing back to his days when he was a premier perimeter defender. 

Gasol even showed up as a bit of a tough guy at the 2:00 minute mark of the following video. Normally portrayed as a "soft Euro," Gasol looked like he was ready to deliver a Batman-like "POW" here as he toughens up. 

He ...

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