LA Lakers: Kobe’s Implosion in Game 2 Is Only One of the Lakers’ Issues

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is not known for conceding anything to opponents, so it was strange to hear his response when asked by a reporter on ESPN's SportsCenter how his Lakers could match the Oklahoma City Thunder's energy after getting blown off the court in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Bryant said there was no way the Lakers could match the youthful exuberance of the Thunder, and if his team hoped to compete they would have to find other ways to win.

During most of Game 2 the Lakers appeared to have found such a strategy as strong defense and disciplined play led the team to a 75-68 lead with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter.

And then everything collapsed right along with Kobe.

The Thunder missed 20 of their first 27 shots in the second half, but in the last two minutes they completely seized control of the game, and to the chagrin of his legions of followers Kobe was at the center of the Lakers' collapse.

People are talking a lot about Steve Blake's wide-open miss with five seconds left on the clock, but I haven't heard as much about Kobe's two missed shots and two turnovers in the game's deciding final two minutes.

That's part of Kobe's dark side that is rarely mentioned while extolling his past late-game heroics.

And while Bryant's miscues at the end of Game 2 certainly contributed to the Lakers' loss, the blame cannot be squarely placed on Bryant alone.

In fact, it would be hard to blame any of the Lakers since the team suffers from a fundamental flaw against the Thunder.

One part of it is the Lakers' age when compared to the youthful Thunder, and the other part is the Lakers' simply do not have a player who can consistently stay in front of Oklahoma's star players off the dribble.

The Lakers can compete if they can force the Thunder to shoot jump shot...

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