Other than the obvious reason to celebrate their 92-86 victory in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead, the Celtics should also be happy that Kobe's teammates didn’t help him out much.
That might plant a seed of doubt in his mind. Now they are tasting the pressure of a do or die game six, and #24 may be slightly questioning the guys around him.
Kobe put up 38 while the rest of the Lakers starters combined for only 34 points. Gasol, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds, was the only other LA player in double figures.
At one point Bryant scored 24 straight LA points, including 19 in the 3rd quarter alone. (I love that, because they have to show the highlights of Zeke puttin’ up 24 in lala the 3rd with the bad ankle! Bad Boys.)
You’d expect the Lakers to play better basketball back at home in the Staples Center. However, they are playing a tense game of win or go home, as they face elimination tonight. The pressure is on like never before and every mistake is crucial.
With that kind of pressure and his place in NBA history on the line, how long will it be before Kobe starts to give up on his teammates?
Kobe is the best player on the court, but he can’t do it by himself. Can the Lakers hold it together?
The Boston squad is deep. They cheer for each other; the starters sit on the bench and wave towels for the other guys.
The Lakers seem cool and high five as long as everything is running like a machine for Coach Phil and basketball brain Kobe. But w hen things get ugly, they don’t look like such a close-knit team.
Odom and Gasol get weak again. Artest is as unpredictable as ever. Bynum’s knee acts up and Fisher checks his ID, while Showbe is making highlight shots look easy and scowling at everyone.
Including his own team.
With his mastery of the game on the offensive end, the only thing that may stop Kobe from is desired legacy is the inability to truly bond with his teammates.
Imagine if he and Shaq had stayed together? He might have eclipsed MJ’s six by now…and counting.
“What the hell is the big deal? I don't see it as a big deal. If I have to say something to them, then we don't deserve to be champions. We're down 3-2, go home, win one game, go into the next one. Simple as that."
Bryant’s post-game quotes (in-still-wanna-be-Jordan-monotone) were not exactly a vote of confidence for his team. A leader knows the thing to say in this situation is “WE” are going to regroup and “WE” played all year for home court…blah blah blah.
The Lakers squad had better show up to help him early in the game tonight, or Kobe might try to do too much and end up going fishing all alone, or rather, back to his private practice gym all summer.
Maybe then he’ll learn the lesson that loving the game is not always enough.
At the end of the day, it helps to have some love for the guys you play with too.