Tag: Kobe Bryant

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol drops career high 46 leading Bulls to win over Bucks


Pau Gasol is playing his best basketball since he was winning titles next to Kobe Bryant. Maybe even equal to that level — and that was the best basketball of his career.

After a few years of injuries and coaches that didn’t know how to use him properly in Los Angeles, Gasol has come to Chicago and been revitalized.  This was not only a great move for him, for the Bulls they landed a much better free agent fit than if Carmelo Anthony had decided to come to town. Gasol’s all-around game is a much better match in Chicago (and notice Lakers’ fans, he’s not soft, some of you just didn’t appreciate what you had).

Never was that more evident than when Gasol dropped 46 on the Bucks, plus added 18 rebounds, to lead the Bulls to a win Saturday night. He took over on a night Derrick Rose was out.

The last Bull to score more than 45 and have 15 or more rebounds? That guy with the statue in front of the building.

Gasol has found a comfort zone in this offense. one where he provides consistent front court scoring but is a willing passer the nights Jimmy Butler or someone else has it going. He’s always been about balance, it’s why he thrived for Phil Jackson in the triangle. This is that same kind of fit. You can see a bounce in Gasol’s step and his love of the game is back, something that seemed to be sucked out of him the past couple seasons by Mike D’Antoni’s use of him.

Gasol has responded with a season that has him on track to be an All-Star starter (voted in by the fans). Deservedly. And with him playing this way — and if Derrick Rose and the rest of the Bulls can stay healthy — he is on the team to beat in the East.

Report: ‘No thought’ of Kobe Bryant shutting it down for the season

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant began this season on a tear for the Lakers, logging heavy minutes and taking a ton of shots on what wound up being a nightly basis.

Most believed the effort on Bryant’s part was an attempt to prove the doubters wrong; after suffering two major injuries over the past two seasons, he wanted to show that he could return to playing at a high level, essentially as his former self.

Most also believed that Bryant was determined to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list before his body betrayed him once more, which he did at the free throw line in his 24th game of the season.

Three games later, after shooting a combined 19-of-71 in three straight losses, Bryant was finally convinced he needed to rest.

Bryant sat for his team’s next three games, before coming back to play in the next four. He sat out the second night of a back-to-back in Portland earlier this week, returned to play in a loss to the Clippers, but then sat out again as the Lakers beat Orlando on Friday, which happened to be two days later.

Since Bryant’s availability is seemingly unpredictable at this point, might he consider shutting it down for the season?

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:

Kobe is out again tonight. But I’m told there’s no thought of shutting down. He’s just trying to figure out how to get right. He’s not hurt

As Bryant plays out one of the final two years of his career, with the Lakers having zero chance to make the playoffs and with no more career milestones in sight, there’s isn’t a single good reason to play through the pain anymore, even if he’s physically able to do so.

But at the same time, Bryant loves the game, and loves to compete at the highest level his body will allow. Shutting it down doesn’t make sense for him the way it might for Carmelo Anthony in New York, who still has a lot of basketball yet to play, and is in the first year of a brand new contract with the Knicks that will pay him $123 million over the next five seasons.

Byron Scott calls Lakers ‘soft’ after latest loss, equates it to a slap in the face

Byron Scott

The Lakers (11-25) lost to the Clippers (24-12) by 25 points on Wednesday, in what evidently was a surprise to Byron Scott.

It’s widely accepted that L.A.’s varsity team doesn’t have the talent to compete with the JV squad this season, and the head-to-head result was expected by even the league’s most casual observers.

But as head coach of the Lakers, Scott (at least theoretically) needs to demand more from his guys. So perhaps it was fitting, then, that he called his team out for being “soft” after its latest humiliating loss.

From Clay Fowler of InsideSoCal.com:

“I was just telling them the truth,” Scott said. “I just wanted to tell them how I felt and how I thought the Clippers viewed us as a basketball team. And I was just being totally honest.”

Scott didn’t back off his comments Thursday after a practice he made sure to point out concluded with a healthy dose of running. To the contrary, Scott acknowledged the seriousness of his choice of the word soft.

“It’s almost like walking up to another man and slapping him,” Scott said. “But like I said, I wasn’t pulling punches.”

This isn’t the first time this season that this particular word has been used to describe these Lakers; Kobe Bryant said the same after a disheartening practice with his teammates in early December.

Scott has every right to expect a certain level of effort out of his players, and if they aren’t giving it, then he can call them whatever he likes. But the expectations need to remain in the realm of the realistic — and for an 11-25 club that simply isn’t as good as most others from a talent perspective, that’s a fine line for the head coach to walk.