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.