Lakers Nation is still buzzing over that Kobe Bryant dunk over Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks last night. The dunk was clutch, powerful, vintage and just overall ridiculous. Kobe has been on a tear lately, and has been pulling out all the old tricks that Lakers fans have witnessed for seventeen years to get the job done.
However, that dunk (I will call it that since we all know what I’m referring to) was more than just a spectacular way to keep the Lakers in the game in the closing minutes. As Kobe stated post-game, it was a message. Per Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA:
“It’s more of a message to my team here to try to kind of have that will, that hunger to push through it by any means necessary.”
“I was in my coffin a few years ago,” Bryant said, gladly reminding the media that plenty of the pundits and scribes out there have soiled hands from prematurely throwing dirt on his grave. “Vino is out of the barrel.”
“I can get to the rim a lot more because the floor is more spread,” Bryant explained this week. “So I can attack the basket. And my passing and teammates knocking down shots opens the floor more for me, because I can get all the way to the rim.”
“I got plenty in the tank, but if you all want to feel free to criticize and say I don’t, go right ahead,” Bryant said.
Steve Blake certainly received that message, as he describes:
“It definitely energizes all of us. Man, he’s jumping with power, too,” said Steve Blake, who had the game-ending steal off an errant Smith pass following Bryant’s offensive heroics. “You got to move on to the next play. But for that split instant you’re just like, ‘Wow,’ and you know he’s demoralized the other team for that moment. Sometimes it can take confidence away from the other team, even on the offensive end.”
The Lakers went on to win that thriller of a game last night on a difficult lay-up from “Vino” that followed that dunk. The Lakers returned to a .500 record for the first time since late December. Next up, the Lakers face a huge test of their progress with a matchup with the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.