Leading up the All Star Break, the Lakers left Laker Nation in complete disarray with an inconceivable defeat to the worse team in the league, the Cavs, which had just lost an NBA record 26 games in a row. Prior to that game the season wasn’t exactly going as a championship run would be expected; however, coming off a road win in Boston and the chance of finishing up a 7 game road trip at 5 and 2, the Lakers had a chance to build some momentum going into the break.
Instead they finished the road trip at 4-3 and on a three game losing streak heading into the break. The devastating loss to the Cavs and disappointing end to the road trip in conjunction with the uninspiring performance up to that point in the season created a perfect storm of doubt for the Lakers.
Questions begin to surface about the make up of the team and the viability of the Lakers chances to win it all this season.
It’s expected that with losing comes questions.
One of the most troubling of those questions centered on Kobe Bryant and whether his abilities have greatly diminished. So far this season, the flashes of the Kobe of old have been few and far between, while an old Kobe has made regular appearances.
We have seen that Kobe is just not getting the same lift on his jump shot which causes him to take more shots with hands in his face.
It has appeared that Kobe has lost a little on that first step which hasn’t allowed him the ability to get past defenders as easily or often as before.
We haven’t seen Kobe lay one of those nasty dunks down on some poor soul this season like he had routinely in the past to the likes of Yao Ming, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
While just looking at his numbers this season it would appear that all is well with Kobe. Prior to Tuesday’s Atlanta game, he was 7th in the league in scoring at 25.1 and shooting at .460 which is higher than his career average. Kobe has also been producing right around his career averages in both assists and rebounds despite playing the lowest minutes per game (33.9) since his sophomore season in the league.
Still, Laker fans this season have regularly found themselves prefacing their comments about Kobe with “I remember when” or “back in the day he would’ve.”
So can it be that Kobe’s days above the rim and ankle breaking moves are completely over?
Will Kobe now be relegated to mid range jumpers and getting to the line on crafty veteran moves?
Then about three minutes into the first quarter of Sunday’s All Star game we got our answer…