Can Kobe Bryant Remodel His Game to Save the LA Lakers?
The Los Angeles Lakers broke their four-game losing streak with a 102-84 win over the Utah Jazz Friday night. It was a game in which Kobe Bryant shot the ball just 10 times, which is kind of a good model for what the Lakers should want him to do for the rest of the season.
Just looking at the box score, you'll find out how the Lakers were able to not only win this game, but also completely dominate most of the way through.
Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard each scored 17 points, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash each had 15 points and Kobe had himself a meager, yet extremely efficient, 14 points.
Not only that, but Kobe was also able to score on seven of his 10 shots while doling out 14 assists. It was just the sixth time in his career that he's had at least 14 assists in a game, and it's the first time since 2010:
Kobe is coming out of the game one shy of his career high (15) in assists. He has 14 points and nine rebounds also with 1:26 left.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) January 26, 2013
The Lakers needed to do their best to get everyone involved against a team with a solid inside-outside presence, and they did just that. Amazingly, a huge portion of the ball movement was all thanks to Kobe himself.
Steve Nash finished the game with just two assists and was used as a bit as an intermediary between Kobe—whom the Jazz assumed would shoot nearly every time he touched the ball—and the rest of the team, mostly the guys in the post.
Los Angeles was able to work their way into the paint as much as possible, outscoring a team with a terrific offensive post presence 54-40 in the paint.
With their victory, their intriguing post presence and their win on the boards, two things really become possibilities if the trend can continue: Gasol coming off the bench might just be a legitimate solution, and Kobe remodeling his game for the remainder of the season should become a major priority.
Of course, on top of everything else, the Lakers were just flat-out hustling more than usual in their win over the Jazz, but the change in the style of play cannot be ignored.
It's becoming more and more evident that the Lakers need to find a way to convince Kobe to become more of a distributor as the season goes along, and games like these are going to go a long way to give him a reason.
Over the years, the biggest influence on the way that Kobe plays along with his teammates has been trust. He's got more trust in himself than he's ever had in any single one of his teammates, but once they start playing well and hitting shots, he's going to start giving them the benefit of the doubt.
That's why he's played so well with Gasol over the past few seasons and why he's confident in passing out to World Peace on the three-point line, even if he is a bit of a wild shooter.
After the Lakers shot nearly 54 percent in the win Friday night, there should be more of a reason for the Black Mamba to trust his teammates.
Going further, it's something that Kobe himself addressed with a fan after the game against the Jazz via his ever-intriguing Twitter page:
kobebryant) January 26, 2013
Sure, it's just an innocent, innocuous tweet to a fan who liked what he saw from Kobe on a particularly dime-laden evening, but it's at least an acknowledgement that playing the role of the distributor is something he should look more into.
Kobe's not going to be giving out 14 assists every night, nor should he be expected to, but he should start to get into the habit of looking for his teammates more often.
Who knows, the Lakers might even make the playoffs if he ends up getting his teammates a bit more involved.
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