Were Kobe’s 61 a Bad Sign for the Lakers?

by February 03, 2009

by Marcel Mutoni

Maybe it was MJ’s Garden record (to say nothing of Bernard’s), maybe it was having to deal with Spike Lee following the game, or maybe, he felt that he had no choice but to send the rest of the League a loud message that his Lakers are still a very big problem even sans Bynum.

Whatever the case, Kobe lit up the Knicks last night and showed everyone that he’s still the game’s greatest offensive force. Which, unfortunately, isn’t what the Lakers need him to be.

SI‘s Paul Forrester wrote an unnecessarily bitter column following the historic night, but the over-arching message rings true nonetheless:

That won’t work against the type of teams by which the Lakers are measured. And though the loss of Bynum dilutes the personnel advantage over the likes of the Spurs and Hornets, it doesn’t leave the Lakers’ cupboard bare. Gasol. Lamar Odom. Trevor Ariza. Sasha Vujacic. Superstars they aren’t, but all are capable of providing Bryant the victories he thirsts for, provided he trusts them the way he did before Bynum’s injury.

There’s a lesson to be found in the fact Bryant has scored almost seven points fewer in Lakers wins than in losses this season. After 12-plus seasons, we wonder if Bryant will learn it.

Again, an amazing night for Bryant and the NBA. Sublime and as much fun to watch as it was, though, here’s to hoping that he doesn’t feel the need to repeat the performance too many times the rest of the way.