Lakers/Jazz Game 1 Recap
Kobe Bryant does his best LeBron James impersonation.
The modest chants of MVP, MVP, MVP, began in the upper section of seats at Staples Center during the second quarter of Sunday’s game between the Jazz and Lakers.
Seconds later, everyone sitting in the middle section joined in.
And once those with floor seats decided to get involved, the noise reached a fevered pitch. The house was rocking, indeed, and the adulation was for Kobe Bryant, of course.
Don’t these people know, do these fans have any clue, that the NBA recently announced LeBron James as the most valuable player of the most famous League around?
Whatever the case, Bryant fed off the crowd’s undeniable energy and there was nothing that the Jazz could do about it. He played well from start to finish, scoring 31 points in a 104-99 victory in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.
“Well I felt that he put the game on his shoulders,” Phil Jackson said about Bryant to a large contingent of media personalities during the post-game news conference.
As for Kobe himself, he had plenty to say about how he thought he performed in his 36-plus minutes of action. For those interested in listening, simply click here.
Truth be told, the effort couldn’t have come at a better time.
After Kobe struggled, at times, against the upstart Thunder in their previous series, questions began surfacing about whether Bryant had, perhaps, lost a step or two.
Moreover, skepticism grew about whether the Lakers, maybe, just maybe, were going to have some serious trouble successfully defending their NBA Championship.
Bryant did his best keep the detractors quiet by coming out and going 5-5 en route to 10 points in the first 12 minutes to give the Lakers a 30-23 lead at the end of one.
It was more of the same the rest of the way, particularly late in the fourth quarter when the Lakers needed him most against a Jazz team, led by Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, that managed to cut into the Los Angeles lead and make things interesting.
Over the final four minutes of play, Bryant scored 11 of the Lakers’ 15 points to ruin any hopes the Jazz might have had at stealing a game in sunny Southern California.
“We put ourselves in a bit of a hole in the fourth quarter and let them gain all the momentum,” Bryant said afterward. “At that point, we just got to buckle down. It’s tough to change momentum when it’s that late in the game.”
Apparently, it’s tough for some. That is, unless your name is Kobe Bean Bryant.
All told, he was 12-19 from the field. At the free-throws line, Kobe knocked down all seven of his attempts. Bryant added four assists and three rebounds, for good measure.
Not a bad day at the office.
At least not bad in the eyes of the Laker faithful.
To them, Kobe will always be MVP.