by Craig Kwasniewski
Kobe caps of one of his best all-around offensive nights with a game winning jumper as the Lakers beat Indiana 121-119. Lost in the LeBron and Wade MVP duel is Kobe's efficient offensive game this season (he's shooting a career-high 48.4% from the field!). Tonight Kobe not only hits the game winner but he scores the last 11 for the Lakers and drops 13 dimes along the way. And just like last season, where started slowly with quiet November and December only to catch fire on the way to his first MVP award, Kobe is slowly rounding into mid-season form. So with Kobe officially tossing his hat into the MVP ring (though a very distant second to LeBron), here are a few other thoughts from my seat high in Section 316:
How the hell are the Pacers 13-23??? They beat Phoenx a few days ago, and came seconds away from sweeping the Lakers (they also beat Boston, but that's not too impressive these days). So why aren't the Pacers a top tier team in the East? They definately know how to score, they have a true all star in Danny Granger, they all seem to buy into Jim O'Brien's sytem and from 1-12 they all are good passers so what gives? Maybe it's youth or just bad luck but if I'm in the front office I wouldn't change a thing. This team is talented and has a good mix of youth and veterans. All they need to do is pick up the defensive effort and they should contend next season.
The NBA has figured out Bymum. Notice any of those alley oops from Andrew Bynum? How about those points from the post? Yeah, not really. The book on Bynum is quite simple, because of his poor footwork all you have to do is body him out of the lane and he gets frustrated and loses his tenacity. He really needs a full offseason to strengthen his legs and learn the proper footwork. So say goodbye to the alley oops against teams with decent bigs (sorry Golden State).
You might want to double Kobe with the game on the line. O'Brien single-guarded Kobe with Jarrett Jack with the game tied and the clock running down. So what happened? Kobe patiently dribbled the clock down, backed Jack to just inside the freethrow line and... BALLGAME! Call me crazy, the Lakers are more beatable with anyone else but Kobe taking the game winner. But O'Brien made up for it with the Pacers last possession, right? Ummmm not really.
Can Danny Granger get some love? This guys is pure offensive talent. He has the range, the slash-ability (is that a word?) and the confidence of a top NBA baller... yet nobody knows about this guy. The Lakers threw Ariza, their best one-on-one defender, on him and immediately Granger went right at him and put Ariza back on the bench with foul trouble. That's LeBron-type of awareness! The guy gets no love playing for a low-tier team in the east but he definitely deserves and all-star spot.