What Is: January 5th, With 4:54 Left In The 4th Quarter, Against The Denver Nuggets
This would your answer, should "When did Aaron McKie log his first minutes of playing time during the 2006-2007 season?" ever appear on Jeopardy. And considering how often McKie has turned up as a category on that show, you can never store away enough knowledge for a rainy day.
If the idea of McKie getting some run strikes you as a blow out scenario, it ain't your first day observing a little round ball. Tonight's 123-104 win over the Nuggets began as a breeze and pretty much maintained that vibe throughout the entire proceedings. Allen Iverson's staple center debut as a Denverarian may have gotten the joint buzzing, but when the smoke finally cleared, AI finished the night bricking 12 out of 17 shots and doing very little damage. Kobe Bryant was also quiet in the scoring department, but don't mistake his 8 points for an ineffective performance. The New Jack Bauer spent the first half setting the table for his teammates, racking 8 dimes before the opening quarter ended.
Those picking up the scoring muscle during Kobe's generosity streak? Smush Parker, who led the team with 23 points, 20 of which entered the box score by halftime. Andrew Bynum, who added 10 boards and 6 swats to his 19 points. And when Luke Walton wasn't throwing around dishes of his own (8 assists), he found the time to notch 18. Throw in a sweet 16 from both Brian Cook and Mo Evans, plus a serious third quarter from Ronny Turiaf, and Kobe could be content watching his teammates fill up the bucket. He also looked content laughing his ass off on the bench during the fourth quarter. We'll try to find out what was so high-larious.
More to come later. (Check it out, after the jump)
As I pointed out, Kobe was having a straight up giggle fit on the bench. When I asked Kobe about the guffaws, he smiled, but wouldn't get into specifics, saying this "confidential" matter between teammates involved a practical joke he played on a Laker just short of a career high. Nice try, Kobe. You gotta get up earlier in the morning to fool a K Brother. Using my brilliant skills as a reporter and detective (plus the stat sheet stating that one William Henry Parker was the only Laker who circled a personal best), I deduced that Smush was the one Kobe punk'd. Upon questioning, he was a less cryptic than Kobe. "It's not a big story. I was on the bench the whole fourth quarter and I had 23 points. My high is 24 and I wanted to go back in. During a time out, I knew I wasn't in the game, but (Kobe) was 'Yo, Smush. Phil wants you.' And I went running to the huddle and they just started laughing."
Like the rest of his teammates, Smush was amused by the prank. But before reliving it, Smush was plenty serious praising Kobe's trust in his teammates while shouldering a tremendous load. "His role has changed," nodded Smush. "Without our second best player, Lamar Odom, he feels like he has to fill his (own) shoes and Lamar's shoes at the same time. But every game I tell him, "Have faith in your teammates. We'll step up for you and we'll play for you. Just have faith in us. We'll be a better team for it."
As long as Smush and the crew keep stepping up like this, the odds of Kobe's faith (and laughter) continuing to rise are pretty solid. As #24 said after the win, "I had a really good time, just playing together as a unit."