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Lakers-Raptors matchup evokes memories of Kobe Bryant's career-high 81-point performance

Kobe 2

Surely, the Lakers have much more pressing concerns. Though they have won four of their last five contests entering today's game against the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers (33-10) have issues to correct, including improving their offensive drop-off in road games this season, providing a consistent supporting cast and sharpening Kobe Bryant's shooting percentage.

That's why the inevitable story line -- Bryant facing the Raptors four years after dropping a career-high 81 points on them in a 122-104 victory -- may seem inappropriate. Coming into Friday's game against the Knicks, there were some who also wondered whether Bryant would nearly replicate the Madison Square Garden record of 61 points he set last season.

Though he and Pau Gasol led a fourth-quarter charge en route to a 115-105 Lakers victory Friday over the New York Knicks, Mamba's 27 points on eight-for-24 shooting won't exactly go down in MSG lore. Instead, the performance just continues a recent story line that has been all too repetitive. After aggravating the avulsion fracture to his right index finger on Jan. 5 against the Houston Rockets, Bryant shot 31% over the following three games, missed the fourth quarter because of back spasms against San Antonio, returned the next night in a limited fashion against Dallas (though he hit the game-winner), and then appeared in full form Jan. 15 against the Clippers when he shot 10 for 20 and scored 30 points. 

But the finger still appears to bother Bryant, who has shot 32% in the last three games. He at least involved teammates on Friday with six assists, proving that a distributor role is probably more valuable to the team than giving him rest. Besides, Mamba doesn't plan to sit out, saying rest won't significantly heal the finger anyway.

Given the recent history with Toronto, will Bryant at least pursue his excellence against the Raptors? He may not drop 81, especially considering his finger, but he has averaged 31.4 points in his last six visits at Toronto. Then again, though the Raptors (22-22) have lost two of their last three games, they have won eight of their last nine home games, including four consecutive victories at Air Canada Centre against Western Conference teams.

If nothing else, the timing of the Lakers-Raptors matchup at least provides an excuse to watch Bryant's 81-point performance again. Viewing his baskets in succession reminds me of Pop-a-Shot, a game teammates and fans would probably not want Bryant to play, fractured finger and all. 

--Mark Medina

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you wrote: what does that mean? should we all be phil yes men?.. it really irks me when people say that.. is he a perfect human being and coach? so 10 rings absolves him unconditionally and eternally from any bad coaching decision... i seriously wonder what would have happened had luke not demoted himself last year and was our starter in the playoffs.. hmm food for thought..

my response: I can help you with this! That was during that ridiculously
long conversation with KB Blitz. When Luke came to Phil Jackson, about
moving to the bench, Phil Jackson's comment was: I was thinking the
same thing too. In other words, Phil Jackson would have made the move if
Luke hadn't volunteered. Oddly enough, this also coincides with what Mitch
said, when we got Trevor Ariza. They were looking for a defensive minded

Go Kobe!
Go Lakers!!

KBlita and all you Mambas (heads in the sand),

You will be taken to the woodshed on this blog if Kobe keeps taking many bad shots, missing and shifting responsibility for losses to his team mates.

Problem IS NOT that Bynum and Gasol can't play together, PROBLEM IS Bynum and Gasol can't play effectively together with Bryant.

- Bryant has more FGA's than Gasol and Bynum combined, while Bryant FG% is much less.

- Bryant seeks post position, demands the ball forcing Bynum and Gasol away from the basket to clear space.

Not sure Lakers can win against the best teams when Bryant plays selfishly. He seems to have reverted to pre-Gasol days when the Lakers where all about him. Lakers don't need 81 points from Bryant to beat Raptors especially if Bryant has to take 81 shots!


7-1 Road Trip!!

"We're cocky. We're cocky. We're cocky," Odom said. "So what? You know what I mean?" -Lamar Odom

~~ That statement is very unLakerlike. I can't imagine Jerry West, Magic and Elgin or even the Cap would emote that kind of confidence. It represents the attitudes of this Lakers generation whether the players, the coach, the fans and this blog too. Everybody is cocky as lamented by dam-dam reality TV Odom.

Coach is cocky and not ashamed at all to be swept by Cavs yet he is happy to pocket $12m annual damage which Jerry Buss got from fans.

Best player is cocky with his two fingers aching and almost separated from the body but still playing,trying to prove something that he is superhuman, superplayer more than an MVP....mvp, mvp chants the gets into his head that he can be MVP of the universe. When they lose he starts blaming his teammates, not himself. Will Jerry West exhibit that kind of cockiness during his time?

Would-be stars like gasol, bynum, odom, farmar, fisher, artest and shannon are all cocky, they make some big strides in winning a game, yet on a big game against Cavs they disappear in the mist w/o any efforts at all to play D against a slower and older team.

This blog is cocky for insisting to do too many things at the same time. They lost a lot of posters from the past, their own moderators and in a just few weeks the new moderator heated all engines running from: several threads a day on the same subject matter; keeping a score on tweets registered, more chats social networking eventho' only few participants; myspace, testing and myfacebook; more communications, more dreams and fantasies. IMO, Quality is being sacrificed to advance on quantity. Confusion creates deception that cater gullible advertisers.

Fans are cocky for cheering a reluctant Champ, a team that team does not play like a Champ for three quarters and pour it all in the 4th quarter. At the end of a losing battle, you'll read posts such "I'm not worried, part of 82 games, just play the Avatar beast, we'll win more games." Yeah, the lazy beast, wish there is a hungry college pg that can be transplanted to this Avatar lazy beast!!!

Let's be cocky in dreaming that Kobe will again duplicate 81 in Toronto.

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Ironically, I think today’s game against the Raptors provides the perfect setting for discussing the issue of Kobe’s shot selection and the Lakers shot distribution as a team. After all, no single game demonstrated as clearly the undeniable greatness of Kobe Bryant as his 81-point game against the Raptors. Kobe’s performance that night was a greater accomplishment than Wilt’s 100-point game.
A quick look at the Lakers roster for that game compared to our current roster immediately puts the issue into proper perspective. Instead of Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum, the Lakers lineup included Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm. Instead of Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, and Shannon Brown, the Lakers had Smush Parker, Devin Green, and Von Wafer. Instead of Ron Artest and Josh Powell, the Lakers had Devean George and Brian Cook. Only Lamar, Luke, and Sasha remain from that team.
Clearly, the Lakers do not need Kobe to take as many shots or score as many points as they did back when he posterized the Raptors with 81, especially since we have two premiere big men who shoot 55% from the field. Clearly, the Lakers are a better team and harder to defeat when they play inside out basketball. Clearly, the Lakers play better offense as a team when the ball and players all move rather than standing around watching Kobe go one-on-one as the shot clock counts down.
Those who read my posts rather than my critic’s alleged synopses of my positions know that my favorite Lakers player is not Andrew Bynum – but Kobe Bryant. As with Andrew, that does not mean that I think that every move Kobe makes is right or every shot he takes is good. There is no player in the NBA that I love more than Kobe. I will defend him to the death compared against MJ or LBJ. But those who suggest that criticizing Kobe’s shot selection is being a traitor or less of a Lakers fan need to shut up and open their eyes to the reality of today. We do not need Kobe to score 81 points.
What we need from Kobe is efficient, team-oriented play. Kobe will naturally push the boundaries because that is who he is. But the Kobe Bryant who is the Lakers leader today is not the Kobe Bryant who HAD to put up 81-points in order for his team to beat the Raptors. Today’s Kobe Bryant is the MVP version. He will still hone his unstoppable offensive weapons but he also knows that to win a championship, you need the entire team to play well, including the guys off the bench. That is why I am not worried that Kobe will continue to shoot if his injuries prevent him from being efficient.
Frankly, I am amazed at the number of very negative posts on the blog, especially the level of hatred and vitriol directed to Andrew Bynum and to any blogger who deems to criticize Kobe Bryant’s game. Step back and anyone can see the wide pendulum swings that overreaction and uncontrolled emotion have caused on the blog. There is no problem with criticizing a player or disagreeing with a blogger but spewing hatred and loathing towards Lakers players or other Lakers bloggers is not being a good fan in my mind. At the halfway point of the season, we should be happy to be where we are and confident that Phil and Kobe will right the ship and the Lakers will win their 16th NBA championship.
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Ah... the mid-season strife continues...

We've got to trade so-and-so... Kobe is ball-hogging and taking too many shots... Bynum still hasn't played up to his potential or his contract... Pau is too soft... The refs aren't giving us the calls... The media is fascinated by LeBron's athletic prowess...

And we're still Number One in the league, and the path the NBA championship goes through us. Period.

I love this team. Even when they're not playing their best basketball. Because they're not playing their best basketball. But they will. Trust me.

Go Lake Show!


Keep preaching, brother. You are right on point. You let the trolls know what's up!

Now, people. The Lakers have just endured a rather mediocre period in the middle of the season. A point and time that earns maximum disdain from PJ. He positively hates the regular season. He doesn't even shorten his rotation until February some time.

We have almost a month before we even KNOW what is up with this team.

Haven't you guys been paying attention that what has happened over the past 10 years?

Be patient. We will see this team peak towards the playoffs.

Mark my words.


Let me clarify some things for you: Kobe is the most skilled player in the NBA.
Kobe was awarded the MVP two years ago and the finals MVP last year.
You're accusing Kobe of being a bad team mate when he played with
Smush Parker & Kwame Brown. You're accusing Kobe of being a bad
teammate when our C was enjoying Italy, China & Japan vs. working with
Kareem and getting valuable experience with team USA basketball.

With those things being said, perhaps you should go the Cavaliers blog.
You can then talk with others about what great teammates LBJ & Shaq

[hobbitmage = emc2]

This is what I'm talking about. If you're a kobehater WHY ARE YOU ON THIS SITE. We cry,sweat, and bleed (showtime)purple and gold, lil' homie. Our team is the best team in the NBA with our best player hurt (and our 2nd best just came back) with stern already deemeing lebron, ALI 2.0. They should make the next Nike commercial be of a stern puppet screaming "L-B-J Bu-ma-yei!" in his office. The truth is, the all-star game is going to be a circus. One where the lion is afraid to jump through the flaming hoop.

And the reason why, being the fact that he's afraid that Shannon Brown of all people will beat him in the dunk contest, 1nce again!

You know what's the saddest thing about Cavs fans? There whole existence starts and ends with lebron, the real primadonna, and that end could be coming in less than 6 months. Imagine this, Mike Brown's record in 2010'/11' season should Lebron bolt for attention to steal Kobe's most popular jersey's title.

"You will be taken to the woodshed on this blog if Kobe keeps taking many bad shots, missing and shifting responsibility for losses to his team mates."

Oh yea and those FGA attempts brought us a championship while Bynum was sitting his butt off in the bench against the Orlando Magic.

Keep living in fantasy land Todd Mr. "Jordan Farmar is the best PG in the league and Andrew Bynum is the MVP of the team not Kobe".

Gasol couldn't even LEAD his squad to a WIN during Memphis. Bynum is a puss who is at most tied with Brook Lopez who is in his second year.

I guess you like being in the lottery huh Todd? You are no Laker fan just a one who prefers to lose so you can stick it in your head that Jordan Farmar is the best PG in the league and Bynum dominates his opposition.


Posted by: KB Blitz | January 24, 2010 at 11:00 AM

TODD says

"KB Blitz will be taken to the woodshed on this blog if Kobe keeps jacking bad shots, missing and shifting responsibility for losses to his team mates."


Oh yea and those FGA attempts brought us a championship while Bynum was sitting his butt off in the bench against the Orlando Magic.



KB BLitz:

Keep living in fantasy land Todd Mr. "Jordan Farmar is the best PG in the league and Andrew Bynum is the MVP of the team not Kobe".

Gasol couldn't even LEAD his squad to a WIN during Memphis. Bynum is a puss who is at most tied with Brook Lopez who is in his second year.



I guess you like being in the lottery huh Todd? You are no Laker fan just a one who prefers to lose so you can stick it in your head that Jordan Farmar is the best PG in the league and Bynum dominates his opposition.


Posted by: KB Blitz | January 24, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Never underestimate the heart of a champion.


I often find myself aligned with your perspective and again, I agree with your words relating to Kobe. He is and has been an amazing talent. However, I too would like to see more ball movement and consistent involvement of others on the offensive end.

At this juncture in his career, I would like to see Kobe focus on improving the one aspect of his game that lags behind his other amazing talents.

I've always felt that Kobe makes the game more difficult than it needs to be. When you compare his overall game to that of Larry Bird or Magic Johnson, the one distinct difference - aside from the obvious differences in styles of play/position/physical size - is they seemed to work within a 5 man system and always had their opponents guessing. For instance, Magic was not a prolific outside shooter, but because he kept his opponents back on their heels and kept them worrying about who was taking the next shot - he was able to hone a pretty nice set shot and select from an array of consistent open opportunities. He actually became a pretty significant threat from the outside.

To me, Kobe seems to prefer to meet the teeth of the defense and take it on. I often find his game to be predictable - which actually should magnify the appreciation of his talent - because he has had so much success going right at defenses totally loaded to stop him. However, I think he would be more effective if he were less predictable.

Additionally, when he is taking the lions share of the shots, the other guys lose rhythm as they tend to stand around and watch. When this happens the triangle seems to be highly ineffective.

It takes a certain skill, awareness and trust in others to find your spots within the flow and to let the ball move around and to not be dominated by the top scorer.

I would like to see him strive for double figure assists and or triple doubles and to adjust his game to find his spots as the ball moves through the triangle. I know it is more difficult to load up on certain statistics in the triangle and on a team loaded with talented bigs, but at this juncture in his career, I believe if he focused more on finding his spots within the context of ball movement and keying off the talents of the other guys out there - he would score as many points and maybe more and the team would become much more efficient offensively. If he wasn't so focused on carrying the load of scoring, and worrying about getting to his scoring spots on the floor, he would be more difficult to predict, would find himself getting more offensive rebounds and causing general havoc with opposing teams trying to adjust.

Regarding your comments on Bynum: I agree there shouldn't be such emotionally charged negativism. However, I believe that the Lakers are not the best team in the league right now and as a fan - I'm not happy about it with all our talent. Cleveland beat them twice and it is not just that they beat them - it is that they beat them down physically. And, to me, the difference between being the best team or second or third is Bynum. He did not take the game to Cleveland - he let them take it to him. This is a growing trend for him when facing tough physical opponents. To me, he seems slow, soft, disinterested and only flourishes when he has a significant mismatch in size or strength. Where is the intensity of a blooming star - where is the hunger of a young player? I don't see it at all. This is very concerning to me.

For one, it is hard to root for an under achiever. Bynum, clearly is an under achiever right now as we have seen what he can do and he has done it against top opponents. Recently, he has been dominated by players that he dominated in the past. Is it work ethic? - is it injury? is he soft? - the reason really doesn't matter. If Bynum doesn't step up this year, the Lakers can't beat Cleveland - and we'll learn a little bit about their chances against Boston next week. They may even struggle to get out of the west as Denver gives them fits and San Antonio always seems to make a hard charge in time for the playoffs.

So, I for one appreciate the sense of urgency expressed by others on the blog. Kobe's window is what - 3 more years as a dominant player? This team is built for the next three years. Bynum needs to step up now.


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Thanks for your response. I agree with much of what you said about Kobe sometimes making everything too hard but I still have confidence that the Kobe of today understands how to win and will make the necessary adjustments. I believe Kobe also knows that Phil is expecting him to show the leadership of an MVP. If that makes me a Kobe hater in some people’s eyes, so be it. I could care less about those people’s opinions.
As for Andrew, I cannot disagree that this year has been a struggle, as it has been for the entire Lakers team. Personally, I don’t see the negative attitudes and lack of effort that many Bynum Bashers constantly talk about. What I see is a 22-year old 7-1 285# phenom who is still learning not only how to play the basic game of basketball but also how to exert himself in a lineup of players all older and more experienced than he is and how to trust his knees, which have betrayed him two straight years in a row. But regardless of opinions, I sure do not see any reason for Lakers fans to be hating and loathing Drew. As far as I am concerned, those fans who spit out the vitriol and refuse to give Drew any credit should be ashamed of their behavior.
Furthermore, I still contend that making hard line judgments in the middle of the season about what Kobe will do, whether Drew and Pau will learn to play together, whether Ron can get his game back and thus be more valuable in the end than Trevor, or whether our point guard duo of Fisher and Farmar will produce enough when we still have the best record in the NBA is typical fair weather fan and greedy sports media overreaction. While we may not be playing up to our potential, Phil has shown the ability to get his teams to peak at the right time, heading into the playoffs. Of course, that assumes that those “fans” have not fired Phil by then. LOL!
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Strange game today as I felt the Lakers were toying with Toronto and I had no doubt the Lakers would win. And then they didn't.

I made it a point to focus on Andrew for much of the game. This was one of those games where he had both height and strength advantages and therefore played well. However, he is simply not at all aggressive going for rebounds. He makes little effort for offensive rebounds - just standing flatfoot or retreating on defense. Defensively he defers to other Lakers.

Maybe it is the adjustment regarding the knees. Maybe it will take another year.

I still don't think the Lakers can win the title unless Bynum wins the battle in the paint against the likes of Duncan, Nene, Perkins and Shaq. He doesn't need to dominate - but must take the game to the opposition. Put them in foul trouble, make them work extra hard to account for him, take away double team options by being present and protect the paint and clean up the boards.

I'm hoping for the best.




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