The Lakers may be better when Kobe is a facilitator, at least for this series. From roughly the 1:20 mark into the game, it was very clear that the Thunder couldn’t contend with the Lakers’ size. The Lakers pounded them inside and they got results. It resulted in Andrew Bynum (whose game I’ve already touched on) and Pau Gasol having a huge games.
Pau Gasol was arguably the MVP. How good is this guy? He’s been on a tear lately, and today was no different. His line: 19 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. I can see why this guy feels he should have the ball in his hands at times.
In the second half, the Lakers got away from that, and they started shooting contested jump-shots. Had the Thunder had some more timely shooting, they could’ve made the Lakers pay.
Kobe Bryant, as much as I love him, hasn’t been shooting the ball very well at all this season. He had 21 points on 6-19 FG shooting and 2-5 three-point shooting. Those numbers are very pedestrian by Kobe’s standards. Clearly, when your index finger on your shooting hand (what a trigger is to a gun) is broken, it’s going to effect your shot more than Kobe would ever be willing to admit, but–it’s broken and it’s clearly effecting his shot.
Still, he’s Kobe Bryant–he’s going to get the lion’s share of the defenses’ attention. And when the Lakers have such a decisive advantage in the post–Kobe needs to shift from scorer to facilitator. Down the stretch, when the marbles are on the line, the Mamba is going to come out. But there’s no reason to be jacking contested turn-around fade-aways like this is 2006 and Kwame Brown and his tiny hands are standing in the post. He is surrounded by talented, world-class players. Once Bynum and Gasol start rolling in the post, it’s going to open things on the perimeter for himself, as well as Odom, Fisher, and Artest.