Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
To say Kobe looked rusty offensively would be an understatement. At times, it was more like those pipes you've seen, that are corroded to the point that there's gaping holes in them.
For the game, he barely finished with more points than turnovers. The bad plays were the result of two things.
First, Bryant made some bad decisions that surely won't happen once he readjusts to NBA action. On more than one occasion, he tried to thread a needle through a brick wall. The ill-advised passes either headed out of bands or were picked off.
Second, he's not athletically what he was before the injury. At least not yet. For much of the game, Kobe looked as stiff as Forest Gump—before the braces fell off.
On a couple drives, he made his initial move, failed to get around his defender's shoulder and just kept pushing anyway.
And the lack of explosiveness didn't just hurt Bryant as a playmaker.
The Jordan-esque jump shot we've all become so acquainted with looked crippled against the Raptors. He simply didn't have the same lift he had before the injury.
The best example came in the closing seconds of the first half. Kobe had the ball in his hands, clock winding down, you know, same old story. Only this time, he didn't just miss the shot. Bryant didn't even come close to elevating high enough to shoot over DeMar DeRozan's outstretched hand.
The shot was blocked, and Kobe fell to the floor in disbelief.
Hopefully, more game time will help him work through both those things.
In the meantime, there were some good things Bryant did and upon which he can rely as he gets back up to speed.
Sure, he threw some really bad passes, but a few good ones led to four assists. The best one came on a drive when Kobe drew Jonas Valanciunas off Pau Gasol. At the perfect moment, he zipped a pocket pass between his man and the help defender to Pau for the layup.
His best bucket of the night came inside as well. He patiently made his way to the lane (more Paul Pierce than LeBron James), calmly up-faked twice and kissed it off the glass with his left hand.
The post-Achilles Kobe might have to be more patient, and do most of his damage in the post.