The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks last night, 112-108, to sweep the season series and maintain position as the 3rd Seed in the Western Conference. Kobe Bryant did not feature in this game, his fifth missed game in a row. The Lakers are 4-1 without their captain and leader on the court.
The first thing is we’ve done a better job understanding tempo. Before, when Kobe was playing, with him being on the floor, we started playing a little too fast. He can himself, even though he’s not the point guard, he can subtly effect the tempo of the game by running to the block. When he runs to the block, obviously he’s a pretty dominating factor out on the floor. So our guys are going to try and get him the ball, and when they get him the ball it just kind of brings everything to a stop to a certain degree. Having him on the floor helped us control the pace of the game a lot of times. Without him on the floor, we had to kind of find out how to do that on our own. And it started in the Phoenix game where we didn’t do a good job of that. We got into a rat race of a game with them, and they won the game. But, the great thing about that is that he helped us, we felt like we helped the players and the players helped each other. And we learned from that game in terms of how we can do a better job of controlling the pace when he’s not on the floor. For me that’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve gotten from his absence so far. Then you can go into the confidence factor, you can go into guys stepping up at different parts of the game, doing big things for us, and so on and so forth.
RS: That’s Coach Bryant now. He’s like a coach over there. He’s over there helping everybody out and drawing stuff up on the board. He’s pulling for us over on the side and he’s helping us out tremendously
AB: He’s coming up with plays, watching things that are going on and just telling us where they’re coming from.
The Lakers have five more games left in the season, with the final back-to-back set on Tue/Wed. If Kobe Bryant returns, look for him to play the last three games as he tries to regain the rhythm he displayed earlier this month.