Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant on 1-2 start: “Shoulda won all three”


Kobe Bryant remains Kobe Bryant. He keeps sounding like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse — “pain don’t hurt” — and believing that he can carry the Lakers to a title regardless of the roster.

So is anyone shocked at his post-game comments Tuesday, reported by the Orange County Register, after the Lakers finally got in the win column against Utah?

“Shoulda won all three,” Bryant said.

Well… they really “shoulda” beat the Bulls — if you are up 11 points with less than four minutes left in the game you should win. But the Bulls were the team that played like the veterans down the stretch, they made their shots while Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts clanged free throws. Kobe got caught in a trap at midcourt and overreacted with a jump pass (although Gasol or someone should have been moving toward him) that led to a steal. Then there were the final shots — Derrick Rose drove the lane, saw the long help defenders coming and rose up for a sweet 8-foot floater; Kobe drove the lane, saw the long help defenders coming and tried to drive through and over them, and he got his shot blocked.

Against the Kings the Lakers were unimpressive all night but made a late run to make it close — then gave up an 8-0 run at the end and the Kings got the win. Against the Jazz the Lakers played with the desperation and energy they needed against the Kings.

The Lakers had their chances so in Kobe’s mind they shoulda. But realistically, a back-to-back-to-back without Andrew Bynum was going to yield one loss, maybe two. The real question is how the Lakers grow and adapt to Mike Brown’s system. The question is how they defend — which has been pretty good so far — because with Bynum back soon the Lakers will score.

The offense isn’t smooth yet (and relies too much on Kobe) but it’s all about time. It’s about the Lakers and their fans showing patience. Good luck with that.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.