Kobe nets a triple-double to lift the Lakers past the Rockets.
by Sean Ceglinsky / @seanceglinsky
For those under the impression that Kobe Bryant might be on the verge of entering the downside of his career, think again. The 34-year old looked anything but past his prime on Sunday.
The Black Mamba finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Los Angeles Lakers in a 119-108 victory over the Houston Rockets in front of a packed house at Staples Center. That’s right: Kobe messed around and got a triple-double, the 18th of his career and first in more than two years.
In the locker-room afterward, beat writers along with other media-types huddled around his cubicle and talked amongst themselves as they patiently waited for him to emerge following his post-game routine. Once there, he attempted to downplay the effort as just another game.
Typical Bryant. Always too cool for school.
Deep down, however, the accomplishment must have meant a bit more to him. After all, the last time he stuffed the stat sheet like he did on Sunday was back on Nov. 3, 2010. No more dry spell. Moreover, the triple-double was a statement-maker. Bryant is back. He’s still got some gas left in the tank.
“I’m a scorer, not a triple-double player,” Byant said.
Bryant entered the game as the League’s leading scorer at 26.9 points per game, further proof of his potential demise being nothing more than meaningless fodder created by his skeptics.
His haters might want to take a look at these numbers too, Bryant is shooting more than 53 percent from the field, close to 92 percent from the line and right around 41 percent from three-point range.
James Harden is second in the NBA in scoring at 26.7 per game. Instead of turning things into duel with the him, Bryant decided to go the jack-of-all-trades route on Sunday. Mission accomplished, by the way.
Just ask Chandler Parsons. It was primarily his job to contain Bryant. “The first quarter he was just creating, coming off pick and roll and just distributing,’’ the Rockets swingman said. “He’s obviously going to get his points. He’s a great player and it’s definitely a different Kobe this year with the ball in his hands instead of playing without it.”
The Rockets might have known they were in trouble when Bryant opened up the game on fire. In the first 12 minutes, he had 11 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Not surprisingly, the Lakers took a 40-29 lead.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. More of Bryant putting in work. He dictated the pace of play and the Lakers had a 68-60 advantage at the break behind his 11 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in the first half alone.
Bryant went into his scorer’s mode, albeit briefly, thereafter and scored 7 quick points. Entering the fourth quarter with a 98-87 lead, the triple-double was well within reach given the fact that he had 18 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. Injured teammate Steve Nash appeared to be excited about the prospect of Bryant accomplishing the feat and was seen dancing behind the bench during a timeout after a Kobe assist.
At the 5:45 mark of the final quarter, Bryant notched the triple-double with an offensive rebound. He made his exit from the game for good mere minutes later to stirring ovation from the crowd, which included the chant, “MVP! MVP! MVP!” Just another day at the office for an ageless wonder.
In summary, Bryant had this to say about his triple-double: “It’s cool. It’s not something I try to go after. It’s always cool when it happens.”
Sunday was one of those cool times, apparently.