1. Kobe Bryant was a ball hog. It's completely fair and accurate to pin the Lakers' 99-90 loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets to a large extent on Bryant, who scored 16 points on six-for-28 shooting. The 22 missed shots overshadowed Bryant's becoming the sixth NBA player (and the youngest) and second guard behind Michael Jordan to score 28,000 points. Said Channel 9's Bill Macdonald: "For Kobe, a historic night for all the wrong reasons."
Bryant is entitled to a bad shooting night and he has unmatched confidence in overcoming a slump. But let's be real. Many of his shots are contested. There also comes a point in a game when Bryant needs to understand he doesn't have his shot that night. So simply adjust. On Saturday against the Nuggets, Bryant faced similar double teams, but he responded by facilitating and rebounding. On Sunday, he simply gunned. To make matters worse, Bryant provided little on defense, committed six turnovers and often argued with officials over calls.
Lakers Coach Mike Brown has already publicly criticized Bryant on his defensive effort during the preseason. Now it's time for Brown to acknowledge the obvious. Bryant's trigger-happy tendencies single-handedly cost the Lakers the game.
2. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum remained impressive, but they weren't used enough. One of the consequences of Bryant's shooting tendencies was the Lakers' not utilizing their size advantage enough. Gasol and Bynum combined for 38 points on 15 for 27 shooting and 27 rebounds. So clearly, this wasn't one of those nights when the Lakers' bigs didn't deserve touches. Had Bryant chosen to pass inside more often instead of shoot, it's likely the Lakers' inside game would've flourished even more.