The Los Angeles Lakers were on the second game of back-to-back road games, coming off an impressive 11 point win in Milwaukee, taking their show to a frustrated 4-8 Detroit Pistons team.
Kobe and the Lakers got off to an early 11-2 lead, eight quick points for Bryant, two coming off a sweet backdoor cut from Fisher for an open lay up and the next six coming from back-to-back threes. Both of the three’s came off the secondary break where the ball was swung from side to side, and both off of a one dribble pull up. His second three was definitely a heat check, forcing Detroit to call an early time out.
Its such a tough shot to defend, because his elusiveness in getting to the basket forces the defender to stay at least one step back, giving Bryant the freedom to shoot the long bomb.
At this point, Kobe had a great rhythm to his shot and flow with the ball. He penetrated through two defenders and found an open Artest who knocked down the long range two. When Artest hits shots the Lakers are deadly, Fisher and Gasol have been shooting a high percentage as of late (50% & 53% respectively in the last 5 games), which only opens the floor for easy penetration and one-on-one for Kobe.
His ability to finish through traffic has been impeccable thus far, changing hands in mid air finishing on either side, and using his ability with the pump fake to get past the initial defender. The fundamentals about his game make the most difficult move look simple, as he has been hitting a ton of clutch shots early in the season.
The Lakers got impressive performances from Gasol (25 pts, 12 reb), Odom (15 pts, 14 reb, 4 ast), and Bryant (33 pts, 9 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl) in which all three locked on early. The Lakers opened up a big lead in the second half and cruised through the fourth quarter.
The lead was so comfortable through three, Bryant rested the entire fourth. The Lakers continue their Midwest road swing playing at Minnesota, a team that played them close in LA two weeks ago. The Lakers look focused as the Timberwolves may see a different energy this time around.