Assassin or Facilitator?
Those are typically the two words chosen to describe Kobe Bryant on any given night for the Lakers. Stone-cold killer one game. Master maestro of an in-sync offensive orchestra in another game. No matter what role he plays, when he plays either at his best, the Lakers are a pretty darn tough to beat.
On the five-year anniversary of the Kobe Bryant 81-Point game against the Toronto Raptors, we're all reminded of the deadly scorer Kobe was and still is. Except these days, Kobe's all-out assassin persona isn't as necessary as it was during the Smush/Kwame Era. Kobe has enough weapons on his tool belt to make Batman jealous. He can operate between assassin and facilitator as he sees fit for the benefit of team success. This week, we've seen Kobe expertly merge the two personalities in each game. Unfortunately, the results were mixed in the win column.
In what should be considered a tough week, the Lakers went 2-2. A loss to the Clippers, a home win versus the Thunder, another loss in Dallas, then a road win against the Nuggets. In all four games, Kobe scored quite easily, but seemed to ease back and defer to teammates in the fourh quarters. On the surface, I'm sure it left many of us wondering why. Especially as the Mavs and Clippers pulled away in their wins. After spending three quarters scoring at will, why was Kobe swinging the ball around, or kicking out to the three-point line instead of closing the game by himself? Maybe there's a silver lining.
Here's Kobe post-game, last night. From ESPN:
"It's important for me to keep my guys involved, and build their confidence. I know I can score at any moment or get looks at any moment," he said. "The third quarter I was able to do that."
Trust. That's a word Kobe isn't nearly given enough credit for. As in trust in his teammates. In the losses to the Clippers and Mavericks, Kobe was able to get what he wanted on offense, but was fine relying on his teammates in crunch time. In terms of one game, maybe it would have been best for assassin Kobe to continue to call his own number. Kobe sees the big picture though. He realizes facilitator Kobe will again bring out the best in his teammates. He knows he needs them and will make Lakers better later on because of it.
This was far from his best week in terms of scoring average, but he scored efficiently while still keeping teammates involved. It may have cost the Lakers a couple of wins, but they also finally notched a couple of sorely needed quality wins. The small steps back should lead to big steps forward later on, and give us a reason to exhale. Now, if he would just stop missing free throws and threes, turning the ball over, and defend the three a little better...
Here are his stats for the week:
21.75 points, 7.25 assists, 6.0 rebounds per game in 34.75 minutes per game. He shot 33 of 62 for 53.2% from the field.
And here's Kobe's Highlight of the Week:
P.S. Lamar Odom could have easily won this week as well. Maybe I'm biased. What do you think?
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