With the Lakers set to take on the New Orleans Hornets tonight, I thought it might be interesting to look at how the team’s done since the last time they faced the Hornets.
On March 31 the Lakers defeated the Hornets 88-85 at the Staples Center. However, it was a very unique game for Kobe Bryant. He has always been a player who has a reputation of being a bit of a chucker, but has also been one of the best scorers in the league, so often times his shot selection is overlooked.
Still, on that particular day Bryant experienced a career low. He shot just 3-21 from the field, and although one of those three made baskets was the game-winner, it was a very disappointing outing from the league’s leading scorer.
However, since then he has really turned things around. While he sat out the team’s last game (an embarrassing loss to the Phoenix Suns) and will not play tonight in New Orleans, he has turned up the efficiency since his terrible performance the last time the Lakers faced the Hornets.
In his first game after the 3-21 incident, Bryant faced the Golden State Warriors. In that game he shot 16-28 from the field, including an impossibly efficient 3-3 from downtown. He had three rebounds, five assists and 40 points. And, most importantly, the Lakers were plus-13 when he was on the court. Not a bad way to rebound from an off-game.
Following the Warriors the Lakers faced the New Jersey Nets. Again, Bryant played an incredibly efficient game. He shot 10-16 from the floor and 3-6 from three-point range. He finished with a team-high 24 points, and again hit a late jumper that helped seal the win for Los Angeles.
The following night was Bryant’s most important game yet, as it came in a 113-108 win over the L.A. Clippers. Bryant shot 13-19 for 31 points, and again just attempted three shots from beyond the three-point line, making two of them. He also had six assists, which was second on the team, behind the eight dished out by Ramon Sessions.
After the win over the Clippers the team as a whole took a step back, and that included Bryant’s shooting numbers. He shot just 8-20, but still managed to score 28 points due to 11-11 shooting from the free throw line. He didn’t shoot a high percentage from outside (1-4), but the limited amount of attempts from three-point range is still encouraging.
The bottom line is that since the worst shooting performance of his career, Bryant has rebounded quite nicely. He shot an incredibly efficient 47-83, which is nearly 57 percent. Considering Bryant is a career 45 percent shooter, this is quite an impressive leap. His assist numbers are up, as well, and his three-point attempts have been cut by nearly 20 percent. This means he is playing within the offense and becoming a more efficient player, which is certainly a good sign for the Lakers.
While he will miss (at least) two games with a sore shin, the Lakers can only hope that the Kobe Bryant who comes back after the injury is the one from his four games after March 31st, and not the one they saw on and before that very forgettable game against the Hornets.