Kobe Bryant falls short of MJ's scoring mark, but helps Lakers beat Spurs
He also acted, for long stretches, as stereotype late-career Kobe Bryant. It was fascinating.
The kicker is the fact that had Kobe Bryant played the sort of shot-happy, inefficient ball that has marked his 2014-15 season, he could have passed his model Michael Jordan and moved into third place on the NBAs all-time scoring list. Instead, Bryant held back and made the correct plays that he usually anticipates before any other mere mortals, plays he often disregards prior to tossing up another jumper.
Kobe finished with 22 points on 22 shots as a heretofore terrible Lakers team knocked off a Spurs squad working with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and even Tony Parker for a spell. Kobe entered the game needing 31 points to top MJ, but he sat huge chunks of the second and fourth quarter without a complaint, and his work down the stretch helped an active Lakers squad retain their lead in the win.
His absence, for whatever reason, also saw the Lakers building that lead. This team is so strange.
Bryant made expert pocket and screen-and-roll passes, hitting the sorts of teammates he recently denigrated in full and knowledgeable view of the media on Thursday afternoon. Kobe may have missed 15 of 22 shots, but he had ample opportunity to gun for Jordans scoring mark several times in this contest, but instead chose to make the intelligent and proper basketball play that suits his basketball genius obvious passes he often ignores in order to launch yet another shot.
Bryant routinely found big men Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill, and swingman Wesley Johnson for great looks with gorgeous passes on his way toward nine assists in 40 minutes of action. In the games deciding play, with Kobe barking at guard Jeremy Lin (who had sat about 30 minutes of real time prior to the play after being pulled to the bench) late in overtime, mercurial Lakers scorer Nick Young hit a 3-pointer with just under eight seconds to go in overtime. Young actually finished the contest with a team-high 29 points, two short of what Bryant needed to top Jordan.
Bryant didnt always play up to the competition. His shooting percentages were obviously poor and his rookie-like turnover late in regulation helped San Antonio overcome what seemed to be an insurmountable late-game deficit, but the movements were telling. Kobe mixed in equal parts the attributes that allow NBA observers to both revere, admire and shake their damned heads at him he forced shots, he sat willingly, he made pinpoint passes to teammates who were open and he hit a killer clutch 3-pointer late in regulation that nearly put the game away.
[ Related: Revisiting Kobe Bryant's matchups with Michael Jordan ]
Kobe Bryant finished with a -1 plus/minus in a two-point Lakers win, he took and missed more shots than any other teammate, and he turned the ball over more than any other teammate. And yet he looked like the best Laker on the court on Friday night, while declining the chance to fire away and top Jordans career output in front of a nationally televised stage against the defending NBA champions.
This is peak Kobe Bryant. And its so much fun.
Bryant is nine points away from moving past Jordan, and the Lakers play against the similarly lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night. Find somebody with NBA League Pass that evening, because youre going to want to tune in. Even while defining his stereotypes in full view of a national audience, Kobe Bryant still finds a way to defy them.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (58-26) at MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (56-28) Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Memphis -4.5 & 179.52013-04-27
The Grizzlies were blown out of Game 1 by a 112-91 score, but played much better defense in Monday's Game 2, and nearly pulled out the victory, losing 93-91 after Chris Paul made a last-second floater. That gives L.A. nine straight victories (5-3-1 ATS) during a streak that has seen the team score 104.8 PPG on 50percent FG and 36percent threes. Memphis is happy to return home, where it is 32-9 SU and 23-16-2 ATS (59percent) this season, including 14-1 SU (8-7 ATS) in the past 15 games. But that one SU defeat came to the Clippers, 91-87 on April 13. Los Angeles is a solid 24-17 SU on the road this season, but just 20-21 ATS. The Clippers are 13-7 SU (11-8-1 ATS) in the past three years versus Memphis, which includes a 5-1 SU mark (4-2 ATS) this season. Los Angeles is also much better with two days' rest, going 14-3 SU (12-4-1 ATS) in this scenario, compared to the Grizzlies' 10-2 SU record, but subpar 5-6-1 ATS mark after a couple days off.
The Clippers have had a tremendous series offensively with 102.5 PPG on 51.3percent FG, but they shot terribly from three-point range in Monday's Game 2, making just 2-of-15 threes. But it has been the defense that has been the difference in this series, limiting Memphis to 91 points in both games and holding a decisive 87-61 rebounding edge in the two games. The Clippers produced a league-leading 9.6 steals per game during the regular season, but have less than half of that (4.5 SPG) so far in the series. PG Chris Paul has been the star of the series with 23.5 PPG (57percent FG), 8.0 APG, 3.0 RPG and 1.5 SPG. He's committed just two turnovers in his 69 minutes of action. Four other Los Angeles players have also averaged double-figures so far this series. PF Blake Griffin has 15.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.5 BPG, while SG Jamal Crawford has knocked down 14.0 PPG on 11-of-22 shooting. Two other Clippers players have been even hotter from the floor, as PG Eric Bledsoe has 11.5 PPG on 10-of-13 FG (77percent), while SF Caron Butler has 11.0 PPG on 10-of-15 shooting (67percent). C DeAndre Jordan has scored a total of only seven points (3-of-6 FG), but has 16 rebounds in the series, and posted four blocks in Game 2. The one player that had a poor performance Monday was SG Chauncey Billups, who scored just five points on 2-of-8 FG with a team-worst minus-11 rating. In Game 1, Billups tallied 14 points and a +14 rating. Although the L.A. starters combined for a minus-33 rating on Monday, the six bench players posted a stellar +43 combined rating.
Despite the pedestrian point totals, the Grizzlies have actually shot pretty well in this series, making 46percent FG despite a poor 7-of-23 three-point clip. Their defense has been outstanding at FedEx Forum this season, holding visitors to a mere 87.0 PPG on 42.7percent FG and 31.8percent threes. And despite getting outrebounded, points in the paint are nearly even in this series at 96-94 favoring the Clippers. If the Grizzlies are going to get back in this series, PF Zach Randolph has to stay out of foul trouble, picking up five personals in each of the first two games. That has limited him to 13.0 PPG and 6.0 RPG in the postseason, numbers well below what he did against L.A. in the regular season (14.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG). PG Mike Conley has admittedly struggled to keep Chris Paul in check, but he was still able to score a playoff-career-high 28 points in Game 2, and is averaging 20.0 PPG, 7.0 APG and 2.0 SPG for the series. C Marc Gasol has also had a strong offensive series with 16.5 PPG, but has just nine rebounds in the two games combined. SG Tony Allen was a monster on the glass Monday with a game-high 10 boards to go along with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Starting SF Tayshaun Prince has been dreadful this postseason, scoring just eight points on 3-of-15 shooting. PF Darrell Arthur had some key buckets during his team's fourth-quarter comeback on Monday, finishing with nine points (4-of-5 FG), but had the worst rating on the team (minus-11).
Get a $100 Free Bet - Paid Cash - No rollovers2013-01-30
CHICAGO BULLS at LOS ANGELES LAKERS2011-12-22Tip-off: Sunday, 5:00 p.m. EST
Line: Los Angeles -2, Total: 187.5
Two of the NBA’s title favorites meet up in Los Angeles when the Lakers host Chicago for the teams’ season opener on Christmas Day.
The Lakers are a team in flux. After missing out on Chris Paul, they seem to have taken a step backwards heading into the season. They sent valuable role player Lamar Odom to Dallas in exchange for a trade exception that should help them down the line, but won’t help them in this opener. And with C Andrew Bynum suspended, Odom would have come in handy in this game. Chicago comes in at full strength, and even added veteran SG Richard Hamilton, who looked sharp in preseason play. Considering the Bulls were 25-16 ATS on the road during the regular season last year, and the Lakers were just 15-26 ATS at home (16-30 ATS including the postseason) a year ago, CHICAGO is the pick.
The Lakers have some work to do to make up for the loss of Odom. PF Pau Gasol (18.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG), coming off a brutal postseason that landed him on the trade block, will have to handle the likes of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer inside. Gasol also might have to take on a more significant offensive role with Kobe Bryant (25.3 PPG) suffering from a torn ligament in his wrist.
The young Bulls should have plenty of energy for this one, and their defense (tops in the NBA in defensive efficiency last year) should carry them against Los Angeles. While reigning MVP PG Derrick Rose (25.0 PPG) seemed to fade a bit down the stretch, he should thrive against a Lakers team that, with Bynum out, has no one to protect the basket. Noah (10.4 RPG) and Boozer (17.5 PPG, 9.6 RPG) figure to control the interior, and SF Luol Deng (17.4 PPG) is capable of containing Bryant. The arrival of Hamilton (14.1 PPG with Detroit) just makes their second unit that much better.
NBA Finals Game 5 – Find a Way to Win2010-06-11
The NBA Finals series is tied at two games apiece, with the critical Game 5 looming on Sunday. After Boston evened the series on Thursday night, the Celtics have once again been installed as favorites, laying 3-points according to Sportsbook.com. Stay up to date with all of the key betting information for this crucial contest by following the LIVE ODDS, BETTING TRENDS, and GAME MATCHUP pages.
Say what you want about the Boston Celtics, this group is buoyant and tenacious, from the starters to the bench players and their coach might be a blast at a black jack table, hitting on 16 because he feels a five coming as next card.
If Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Rasheed Wallace and Tony Allen sound like the makeup of an NBA expansion team, that belief would likely be correct. However, this group of bench jockey’s scored on the first nine possessions of the final stanza for the Celtics and largely cemented the game away against the Lakers regular starters.
Coach Doc Rivers took a gamble, not calculated, but heart-felt and emotional, that this contingent had just a bit more to give with over 240 seconds left in Game 4 and his team leading by nine points and waved back his starting subs back to the bench.
“Hell, Rondo and all of them were begging me to keep guys in. 'Don't take them out. Don't take them out,'" Rivers recalled. "It was great. That was the loudest I've seen our bench, and it was our starters cheering from the bench. I thought it was terrific."
This enabled the Celtics to tie the series and moved their record to 8-3 SU and ATS at TD Garden in the postseason with one more to go.
Boston could be gaining some advantages as the series is wearing on. Pierce was much more efficient in running off screen and roles, getting Ron Artest out of his face, scoring 19 points and handing out five assists.
The player formerly known as “Big Baby” has been a man, as Davis’ internal flame has him continually outhustling the Los Angeles big men and he found a way to not let his height be a detriment in the paint against the taller L.A. players in making seven of 10 shots and collecting five boards (four offensive).
Going from the speed and quickness of Rajon Rondo to Nate Robinson allows the Celtics to have accelerator to the floor like a NASCAR driver in a straight away if they choose for all 48 minutes.
The Lakers give the appearance of being in control, but cracks are formulating. Andrew Bynum knee not only limits him, but forces Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom to log more minutes against the more physical Boston frontline.
Though Kobe Bryant scored 33 points in last conflict, the Allen Gang (Tony and Ray) are making life difficult, as witnessed by his seven turnovers.
Bryant said, "They got all the energy points, the hustle points, the second-chance points ... "
" ... points in the paint, beat us to the loose balls," Bryant continued. "I mean, that's how the game turned around."
For the third time in this year’s playoffs, Los Angeles is 2-2 and they are 19-6 ATS when a series is tied and 18-6 ATS in road games having lost two of their last three tilts. The extra day off should help Bynum and the exhausted looking Lakers should be fresher.
Sportsbook.com has Boston as three-point home faves with total slipping to 188 after a pair of Under’s.
The Celtics are 8-2 ATS in last 10 NBA Finals’ affairs and 5-0 ATS with two days off. They are 6-0-1 UNDER in last seven home assignments.
The Lakers are still a potent 37-21 as an underdog, including 5-2 ATS in previous seven tries. Phil Jackson must devise ways to get better looks and increase the tempo since his club is 15-6 UNDER as a road underdog of six points or less this season, which has them being outscored 3.9 points per game when this happens.
ABC will have Game 5 at 8:00 Eastern and the team that snares the most rebounds in 4-0 SU and ATS in the Finals.
StatFox Power Line – Boston by 4