Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant wants you to keep on doubting him


Six years ago, if Kobe Bryant dropped 48 points in a game, we called it Tuesday. It seemed like nothing out of the ordinary. There were a couple highlights on SportsCenter, his fantasy owners patted themselves on the back, and then we pretty much moved on because we saw this all the time.

But in 2012, Kobe’s wrist is supposed to hurt too much, he’s too old, and his Lakers trying to evolve the offense away from him toward Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The Lakers are no longer the favorites to represent the West in the NBA finals. They are on the downslope, their leader no longer capable of carrying them to the promised land.

Kobe eats that stuff up.

He dropped 48 on the Suns and it’s news now. No guy in the league for 16 years has ever scored that many points. For Kobe it’s just another chance to prove you wrong. Check out his post-game quote, via friend of this site Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times Lakers Blog.

“Not bad for the seventh best player in the league,” Bryant said in a shot at the ranking a panel of ESPN writers gave him this offseason.

Maybe Michael Jordan was the only other player who could take a perceived slight — like only being the seventh best player in the NBA or a playoff loss from six years ago to the Suns — and have it fuel him for a Tuesday night regular season game in January. Kobe remembers everything.

With that comes nights like Tuesday. He came out hot — 17 first quarter points on 8-of-11 shooting — and at that point coaches and teammates just get out of the way because when he is hot there are few like him. His confidence and belief in himself can still fuel monster games.

With it also comes nights like last week’s 6-for-28 shooting games. He was clearly ice cold and yet his confidence and belief in himself is such that he keeps shooting through the slump because he is sure next one will fall. There are no mid-game adjustments to pull back and feed the rock to others. It’s not how he is wired.

Like a character out of a classic Greek tragedy, Kobe’s greatest strength is also his weakness. Always has been, it’s just that before the injuries and miles piled up on his body, the downside didn’t show as much.

But go ahead and believe that he can’t keep up this 29.5 points per game scoring average while shooting 46 percent. Keep thinking he can’t carry the Lakers deep into the playoffs like he used to. That’s just more fuel to the fire for him.

Spurs Danny Green has strained quadricep, out three weeks

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 30: Fans celebrate a three with Danny Green #14 of the San Antonio Spurs against the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the Western Conference Semifinals for the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 30, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.

But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.

This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.

Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).

It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.

PBT Extra: Who wins MVP, other NBA end-of-season awards?

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The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.

Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.

In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.

Sixers Nerlens Noel to miss time following surgery on sore knee

CAMDEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 26: Nerlens Noel #4 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during media day on September 26, 2016 in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

During the ProBasketballTalk podcast with Sixers coach Brett Brown, you could hear the frustration in his voice. He has all these talented young front line players — Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor — but he can’t begin to figure out how they all fit together if he can’t get them on the court at the same time.

That problem just got worse.

The Sixers announced that Nerlens Noel will miss time following surgery to deal with soreness in his left knee. Here is the word from the press release itself:

During the normal course of evaluation and treatment for his left adductor strain, which was identified on October 6, Noel reported localized soreness in his left knee. After consulting with multiple specialists, the source of the soreness was identified as inflamed plica. Noel has elected to address the injury via a minor surgical procedure in the coming days.

The team gives no timeline for Noel’s return. Soreness from the plica — a band of tissue around the knee that is not important following birth — happens in some players and can be fixed by an arthroscopic surgery that removes the area being irritated. While the surgery is minor, it usually takes around six weeks to bounce back from this.

That likely means a little more run for Jahlil Okafor (just coming back from an injury of his own) and Richaun Holmes. But it’s just another injury setback for a Sixers team plagued by them.

The Sixers also announced that Jerryd Bayless will not have surgery on his wrist, but will remain out and be evaluated in two weeks.

If you didn’t watch the final seconds of the WNBA Finals, you should


This was flat out incredible.

After a back-and-forth, even series between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, it came down to the final seconds (although maybe it shouldn’t have, the WNBA admitted Friday the referees missed a call with 1:14 left, giving the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike a bucket on a shot after the shot clock expired).

The biggest stars took over at the end, as you can see in the video above: L.A.’s Candace Parker drives and scores with 19 seconds left putting the Sparks up 75-74; Minnesota responded with a Maya Moore jumper to take the lead back, then it came down to Ogwumike (the WNBA’s 2016 MVP) getting the ball after a block by Sylvia Fowles and following it up with a fadeaway bucket that gave Los Angeles the title.

Congrats to Candace Parker on the win, after how she’s been overlooked on the awards circuit in the WNBA this season, this is some sweet revenge.