Tag Archive for 'Kobe Bryant'

61

So, how’d he do it?

How did Kobe Bryant become the only player to ever score 61 points in Madison Square Garden?

We’ve gone over his motivation in the postgame article* from L.A.’s 126-117 win and posted reactions from* Trevor Ariza, Luke Walton and Kobe himself*.
*In case you missed it, those underlines are all links to the videos and articles, so simply click on the word to read or watch.

But to keep throwing fuel on the Mamba fire, we spent a few minutes with Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons** to see what his great basketball mind was thinking about during Kobe’s offensive barrage.
**Same story

Just in case you need more from Kobe’s 61, what follows is every pertinent Kobe entry from the running diary of the game, so that you can trace a relative play-by-play in narrative form:

Kobe Bryant Dunk in MSGFirst Quarter
10:41 After canning a deep jumper, Bryant pulled up for a deep three to make it 6-2 Lakers.

9:52 Kobe again with a deep jumper. Swish. In related news, Kobe likes to play in New York.

6:35 After a driving layup off Pau’s feed and an open jumper, Bryant had 13 points in 5:30 of play. The Knicks then missed another jumper (5-of-16, 31 percent from the field) and Gasol capitalized on a nice Odom pass to put L.A. up 18-11. Meanwhile, for better or worse, New York’s PA announcer is easily the most informative of any I’ve heard around the league this year.

2:24 BIG MVP chant for Kobe as he made two more free throws to get to 15 points. That’s probably the loudest road arena Kobe chant this year.

0:48.1 Wilson Chandler dropped a three on Kobe … Which didn’t sit well with Mamba, so he decided to put one on the Knicks 10 seconds later for a five-point lead.

Second Quarter
7:30 Two-straight turnovers from Radmanovic turned into four Knicks points, cutting L.A.’s lead to one. The first came as he dribbled off his foot, the second after a bad pass intended for Ariza. Vladi thought he was being pulled when Kobe checked in, but it was Farmar who sat, leaving Vujacic to guard Duhon. Bryant immediately took advantage of the space afforded him by a drive-wary Chandler and pulled up for his third triple. Well, it didn’t take Bryant long to get going again, huh?

6:27 It seems to be ones of those (Mamba) nights for Kobe, who first crossed Chandler over on the perimeter, rose and buried another jumper. Then he pulled up again on the next possession from deep (swish) before rising up in transition to throw down a dunk.
“MVP … MVP … MVP” chants wore on for about two minutes after the Knicks called timeout with 5:44 to play. Kobe was 10-of-14 from the field for 27 points in about 14 minutes to give L.A. a 49-42 lead. If you’re the Lakers, you’re probably cool with Kobe taking a few more heat-check jumpers, but it should be time to go back in the paint to Pau shortly.

4:21 After a great feed from Kobe to Odom for a slam, Gasol returned for Powell. When Kobe scored again on a Michael Jordan double-pump fake jumper to get to 29 points, he and Pau had combined for 43 of L.A.’s 53 points.

1:56 Bryant’s transition dunk set off a quick 5-0 Lakers run, capped by 1-of-2 (again) Odom free throws that made it 62-47. In the middle of those two plays was a nice swat of a Robinson three by Walton, plus Luke’s pull-up jumper.

0:42.2 MVP chant, again, for an all-business Kobe after a driving and-1 that gave him 34 points. The combination of latent anger over Bynum’s injury and the NYC spotlight lesson the surprise about Bryant’s burst, but still… decent stuff. His final line was 13-of-20 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line plus two assists. Harrington did answer with a three to make it a 65-54 Lakers lead at the break. Kobe almost made us forget that Andrew Bynum’s out for 8-to-12 weeks with his barrage.

Kobe BryantThird Quarter
9:20 Kobe swatted a potential game-tying layup attempt from Richardson, and Walton scored in the lane at the other end to make it 69-65. Bynum’s presence in the lane (or lack there of) is certainly missed by the Lakers, who needed their shooting guard to clean up the paint. By the way, New York’s “center” Jeffries is guarding Kobe.

7:07 Kobe’s second tough, fade-away jumper in a minute put L.A.’s lead at 75-67, as he and Gasol had combined for 56 points. But Lee and Harrington then scored easily at L.A.’s unprotected rim. That’s 40 points for Kobe.

5:11 Kobe’s 42nd point came on a kind of ridiculous running shot that mirrored his left-to-right action late in Memphis. That’s his new season high, as he had 41 in Orlando.

3:36 As soon as Kobe finally missed back-to-back jumpers, the Knicks capitalized to get within six at 84-78. But out of a timeout, Bryant drew a foul on Duhon from the perimeter, and sunk both as L.A. was in the bonus.

Fourth Quarter
7:30 Think the bench cooled Kobe off? Nope. Jumper, 46 points, 14-point lead.

6:06 And we’re at 50. Bryant hit two free throws courtesy of Josh Powell’s second offensive board in a minute.

5:50 Ouch. Peezy went down haaaard on his head and back after trying to block a Robinson runner … But obviously he got right up. He might star in the new G.I. Joe’s movie. Into a timeout out of which Kobe was set to go to the foul line, L.A. held a 112-98 lead. He made both, then stuck two more a minute later to go 15-for-15 from the charity stripe. We’re at 54 and counting with 5:12 remaining.

3:23 59. The latest came on an up-and-under spin around Chandler. It’s almost unfair, but even the Knicks fans are loving it.

2:45 N.Y. had hit back-to-back threes, the second of which Ariza countered with a three of his own. Then came an Odom steal and dish to Kobe in the frontcourt, which put Bryant back at the line. He can miss one and get to 60.

Nah, made ‘em both. He’s 19-of-31 from the field and 20-of-20 from the foul line, and the Lakers led 126-106.

1:48 Wow. When’s the last time an opposing player left the floor of a regular season game to a standing ovation from the home crowd as chants of “MVP” rang loudly through the arena? That’s what just happened for Kobe.

X-Rays Negative on Bryant’s Finger

Just over a minute into Monday’s 105-88 victory over Cleveland, Kobe Bryant tried to swipe the ball away from LeBron James, and ended up with a dislocated ring finger on his (right) shooting hand.

“It was really, really painful,” said Bryant after playing 41 minutes and amassing 20 points, 12 assists and five rebounds. But when asked if he’d miss any time due to the injury, Bryant was quite clear:

“No.”

Indeed, postgame X-rays of the finger were negative, which was both good and perhaps not surprising news since Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti had allowed Bryant to stay in the game.

“If Gary told me to get off the court, I would have,” Bryant explained. “Gary just popped it back into place, and then I was OK. It was just a normal finger.”

Normal looking perhaps, but certainly not feeling.

“I couldn’t get a good feel for my stroke, so I’m going to have to get in the gym a little bit, shoot and adjust my stroke a little bit,” Bryant added.

Kobe will have a full day to do as much prior to Wednesday’s contest against the Clippers, but for tonight, Lakers fans can exhale a sigh of relief.

The Eagles Coulda Used Kobe

Kobe EaglesWhen Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb tried to bring his Eagles back from a 32-25 deficit during Sunday’s NFC Championship game, little did he know that his best receiving option was driving home from practice in Los Angeles.

“I’d be a wide receiver,” said the 6-6, 205-pound Kobe Bryant. “I’d be a bad (man) too.”

The conversation started when Bryant grew slightly tired of answering the expected questions about his good friend LeBron James after Sunday’s practice, and was instead eager to talk about his favorite football squad, who ended up losing a chance at the Super Bowl.

Go ahead, Kobe…

“No more red zone issue,” he explained. “Just throw it over the top. I’m (Randy) Mossin’ it.”

When you think about it for a second, it’s really not that far-fetched.

Freakishly athleticism: Check.
Great size: Check
Shiftiness: Check
Strength: Check
Savvy: Check
Intelligence: Check
Experience: OK, maybe not
Confidence: Um, yup…

But could he turn routine catches into six points?

“I’ve got that, man, I got all that,” was the response. “I’m physical as (heck).”

Sorry. But what if Lamar Odom’s your QB? He claims he could play at that level, you know…

“If Lamar’s quarterback, I’m not playing,” stated the MVP (of the NBA). “He’d try to run all the time, he ain’t got no arm. His arm ain’t strong enough.”

But really, Kobe. Seriously, could you play in the NFL right now?

“Of course,” he knew (for a fact). “Throw that ball up there, I’ll go get it. Knock my head off … I enjoy it, I love it.”

OK then. We’re not betting against you.

Too bad McNabb didn’t know…

Lakers Preparing for LeBron, Cavs

Best in the East?
Perfect 80 degree weather and the NFC Championship game (see: Kobe’s insistence that his Eagles t-shirt hang from his locker) didn’t keep the Lakers out of the gym on Sunday afternoon, not with LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers coming into town on Monday.

Cleveland is perhaps the last, if not the best, contender for the championship trophy that the L.A. has yet to play. After all, the purple and gold have already seen Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, New Orleans, Utah and Houston (and even Denver and Phoenix).

Why are the 31-7 Cavs so dangerous? The very obvious answer is LeBron’s 27.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and All-First Team defense.

“(James has) made some improvements, in terms of protecting the lane, getting out in passing lanes, but he’s his usual stellar self,” said Kobe Bryant after practice. “I’m a big fan of his … I think he’s terrific.”

Kobe conceded that LeBron’s Olympic experience probably helped spur his defense on this season, and also said that he will “definitely” guard James at times during Monday’s game.

But it’s anything but a one-man team in Cleveland … LeBron’s been boosted by the presence of Mo Williams – a free agent acquisition from Milwaukee – who has taken some of the ball-handling pressure off James, and is a terrific perimeter shooter.

“He’s a big help, a legitimate scoring threat,” said Kobe of Williams. “He’s a person you have to identify, and we played him last year when he was in Milwaukee and he gave us fits.”

Throw in some other smooth shooters like Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Booby Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic, plus three bigs who play good defense – Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao – and your squad’s looking strong to quite strong.

On Monday, however, the Cavs will be without two starters: Ilgauskas, who’s been on the shelf with a bad ankle, and West, who broke his wrist against Chicago last week.

Walton Goes Through Full Practice, But Won’t Start
Luke Walton completed his first full practice since missing the last eight games due to his foot injury.

“You can run all day but until you’ve actually played defense, switched, gone over screens and rebounded, it’s not the same,” said Walton. “It felt great, it didn’t hurt at all.”

Though Walton was very effective against Cleveland last season, Phil Jackson will continue to start Vladimir Radmanovic.

“Last year, I thought Luke did a really good job on (James) when he played him,” said Jackson. “(But) he’s still feeling his way a little bit.”

Sasha Finds Shooting Touch
Phil Jackson liked what he saw from Sasha Vujacic at Sunday’s practice: “He was shooting the ball (well) and looks like he’s back in rhythm,” explained the coach.

“I’m glad he said that,” said Vujacic. “It’s definitely good to be back … I’m feeling good. (The Lakers training staff) has been huge in getting me ready to play, and I’m 100 percent right now.”

With Vujacic and Walton both feeling much better, L.A. finally has 13 players healthy, and is waiting only on Farmar to boast its full complement of players.

Kobe Announces Official Chinese Website

Kobe BryantTo: 300 million Chinese basketball fans
From: Kobe Bryant
Subject: Welcome to my new website

Quite remarkable that nearly as many people as there are in the United States have become some of the world’s most passionate basketball fans … And all in one country.

Sitting in front of a room full of Chinese fans, sponsors, SINA representatives (the company hosting his Chinese website), Chinese and American media and others at L.A. Live’s Club Nokia, Kobe Bryant marveled at the support and attention he’s received in China particularly at and since the Olympics.

Kobe Bryant“I think it’s amazing how much basketball has brought the world together, and the amount of respect and love that I have for (my Chinese) fans has continued to grow year after year,” said Bryant. “The passion that they have for the game of basketball is remarkable.

For me to have the opportunity to teach them some of the things that I’ve learned has been phenomenal, and now with the addition of the website, they have more of an opportunity to see it on a daily basis, and I’ll be able to reach out to them on a personal level and continue to try and teach them some of the values that I’ve learned from the game.”

Flanked by China’s CCTV basketball commentator Yu Jia and SINA CEO and President Charles Chao, Bryant – clad in a sharp maroon and gold traditional Chinese costume (pictured) – talked about the new website, hoops in China and how his relationship developed with SINA.

“I feel this is a perfect way for me to stay in close touch with my fans in China and for them to stay in touch with me,” Bryant concluded.

All 300 million of ‘em.

Bryant Garners Another Award

Kobe BryantThe NBA announced today that Kobe Bryant and the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard today were named the Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Jan. 5, through Sunday, Jan. 11.

In leading the Lakers to three wins in four games, Bryant hit the 30-point mark twice, dished a season-high 13 assists in a win over Indiana and hit a game-winner against the Pacers on a free throw line jumper with 3.0 seconds remaining. After the week, Kobe had his Lakers squad boasting the NBA’s best record at 30-6 (.883).

Here’s a synopsis of Bryant’s four games:
Jan. 6 vs. New Orleans: Connected on 6-of-7 three-point field goal attempts en route to 39 points in a 116-105 loss to the Hornets.
Jan. 7 @ Golden State: Tallied 21 points, five assists and five steals in a 114-106 win over the Warriors.
Jan. 9 vs. Indiana: Poured in 36 points and added a season-high 13 assists as the Lakers topped the Pacers 121-119.
Jan. 11 vs. Miami: Tallied 19 points and seven assists in a 108-105 win over the Heat.

The award is Bryant’s second Player of the Week honor, and last season’s MVP was also awarded as December’s Player of the Month.

For the season, Bryant’s averaging 27.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals. His numbers are only slightly down from his 28.3, 6.3, 5.4 and 1.8, but he’s playing three fewer minutes a game, and has seen his shooting percentages rise in all three categories.

In fact, Kobe’s knocking down a career-high 48.1 percent from the field (career average is 45.4 percent) despite taking a good amount of jumpers, hitting a career-high from the free throw line (87.1 percent) and hitting 36.8 of his threes (up from 36.1 percent last season).

This all goes without talking about Bryant’s outstanding defense, which most recently denied Dwyane Wade the ball throughout most of the fourth quarter in L.A.’s 108-105 win.

Up next for Bryant and Co. is a Texas two-step through Houston and San Antonio.