Kobe Bryant is AmazingI was tempted to just cut and paste the Lakers-Rockets box score into this post to justify the title. The Lakers beat the Rockets 112-101 in double overtime on Friday night/Saturday morning. I missed most of the game because I was at the Pacers-Knicks game but I saw the end of regulation and both overtimes. Bryant had 36 points when I tuned in with a little over three minutes remaining in regulation. He proceeded to score 17 points in the next 13 minutes of action, willing and propelling his team to victory without the injured Lamar Odom (granted, the Rockets were playing without the injured Tracy McGrady). In addition to his scoring, Bryant also delivered three assists (and he should have had more--see below) and grabbed three rebounds during that stretch. Bryant's line: 53 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists.
The numbers do not tell the whole story, though. Here are a few snapshots of Bryant's brilliance--just from the second overtime.
*** The reverse dunk around and over Yao Ming's outstretched arm for the first two points in the second overtime.
*** The Pistol Pete Maravich no-look pass to a cutting Luke Walton, who was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws.
*** The even more amazing mid air, one handed pass to Kwame Brown. Bryant jumped in the air, bobbled the ball, recovered it and delivered a perfect feed to Brown...who blew the layup. As ESPN's Jon Barry said: Kwame, you're 6-11--dunk the ball.
*** The fadeaway jumper from the right baseline that gave Bryant 51 points and put the Lakers up 108-99 with 2:23 remaining.
*** Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that Bryant does all of these things and does not seem tired. After the aforementioned shot, Houston called timeout and Bryant ran off of the court doing something that vaguely resembled Jason Terry's "jet" motion. Bryant looks like he could play 10 overtimes and score 153 points without running out of gas. Look at the tape of Jordan's 63 point, double overtime game versus the Celtics in the 1986 playoffs. Jordan looked gassed at the end. Bryant never looks tired--not in the 81 point game, not in the 62 points-in-three-quarters game, not tonight.
*** As if to reinforce the point about never being fatigued, Bryant caps off his night by grabbing a defensive rebound, dribbling through Houston's entire team and scoring a layup for his 52nd and 53rd points.
*** With less than four seconds left and the shot clock winding down, Bryant hits Brown with a gorgeous pass. Brown, of course, blows the layup. If Brown had converted the two point blank shots that Bryant spoon fed him in the second overtime then Bryant would have had a triple double on top of his 53 points.
Barry summed it up: "Kobe Bryant is, in my opinion, the closest thing that we will ever see to Michael Jordan--because of his mind and how hard he competes."
Kobe Bryant is special. Maybe you think that he tries too hard to be like Mike, maybe you think that he shoots too much, maybe Shaq is your favorite player and you feel compelled to hate Kobe. All I can say is that he is the best player in the game and we should all savor the opportunity to watch him play.
Two more little tidbits: The Lakers overcame a 21 point deficit and they are now 10-3 when Bryant scores at least 50 points.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:34 AM