The Los Angeles Lakers are in the third game of a seven game east coast road trip, taking on the New Jersey Nets (6-18). L.A is one and one on the trip thus far and would like to get back on the right track with a win at the Prudential Center. The nets are 2-5 at home, struggling with first year coach Avery Johnson, and still going through a rebuilding process.
Bryant had a quite first half, attempting five shots and connecting on just one, scoring 7 pts. He wasn’t really asserting himself much in the offense, became passive at times, but realized it was all part of the scheme. The Lakers were up 52-42 at half and seemed to in cruise control. Kobe came out in the third quarter aggressive, attacking the basket for tough lay ups, and allowed his mid-range game to become more of a factor with in the offense. He started to catch and shoot, which at times is the most deadly part of his game, hitting shot after shot, using the curl to perfection, and creating space for his shot by moving with out the ball. When Bryant gets it going the Lakers are a tough team to defend, right when the defender thinks he has Bryant in check, he will do a 180 and go to another facet of his arsenal. His repertory of shots are amazing, from the baseline fadaway, to the one dribble pull up, and on to the multiple jab steps that allow him access to most areas of the court.
Kobe read the double team well as the Nets sent it to him sporadically through the game and a bunch in the fourth quarter. “I thought we did a better job spreading it out and making better pass down the stretch… We can’t just stand around and wait. We have to cut and move the ball. We were moving the ball better and got the win” – Kobe Bryant www.espn.go.com
Kobe went on a tear, hitting 25 of his 32 in the second half, had a blistering 4th quarter scoring 14, and assisted on a few key baskets late, putting the game out of reach and sealing the victory. He nailed a three off of an amazing pass from Odom between his legs off the dribble, which really quieted the crowd and took the gas out of the Nets. They made one more rally with a few minutes left, but Bryant hit Gasol and Odom for easy baskets late. Gasol finished with 15pts, 11 rebs, and 5 blks next to Odom with 22 pts and 7 rebs. This is the kind of consistent collective play that the Lakers need on the road, as opposing teams bring their A-game when the Lake Show comes into town.
This win makes the Lakers 2-1 on the road trip, they head to Washington on Tuesday, playing a team they beat last week in LA, but not by a large margin. As of now, the Wizards have hit the injury bug and are banged up, add the fact that Andrew Bynum is anticipating this game as his long awaited season debut, and we have the likes of a solid Lakers road victory.