Kobe Bryant had his nose broken last Sunday and didn’t say much about it. Bryant has always been the type of player do to his talking with his play, and today he proved to the NBA world he is still hungry.
Bryant managed to make Dwyane Wade regret that foul in last Sunday’s All-Star game. Since becoming the “Masked Outlier,” he has played three games in which he has scored 31, 38 and 33 points respectively.
Not bad for a guy wearing a windshield over his face.
A more surprising Laker was Metta World Peace, who looked very much like the Ron Artest of old. In nearly 38 minutes World Peace managed to shoot 6-of-10 from the field, finishing the game with 17 points, proving to me and my circle of friends that maybe he should stay the starter, at least for now.
The defense finally proved its worth. The Lakers played great defense in the first half and it carried over the rest of the game, where they held the Heat to a shooting percentage of 37.5.
Clearly the Miami Heat were frustrated, and it showed. LeBron James got into a shoving match with Pau Gasol at the end of the third, and Wade, for the first time in 258 games, fouled out with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter. Wade played terribly, settling for 7-of-17 shooting when he wasn’t fouling Lakers. The Heat’s biggest flaw came with the absence of Chris Bosh. Udonis Haslem might as well have sat the bench, missing all five field goal attempts and being nearly absent on the defensive end.
The Lakers' other two superstars, Gasol and Andrew Bynum, played fantastic. They both ended the game with double-doubles and combined for a total of 23 rebounds.
While every Lakers player did their job, from the bench to the starting lineup, it was Lakers head coach Mike Brown who lost his cool, earning a rare technical foul. While his technical foul set his team back, the effect of having Bryant continue to shred teams offensively is what secured the Laker win in the end.
It wasn’t just the Staples Center who noticed it Bryant’s play; even Brown couldn’t help but give his star the proverbial pat on the back, saying, “Kobe continues to be efficient night in and night out. But I thought that not only was he efficient on the offensive end of the floor, but I thought defensively he was pretty good too."
Pretty good? The “Masked Outlier” was exactly that, a standout from the field and an offensive machine.