Phil Jackson took a big chance Friday night when he kept Kobe Bryant on the bench for the first half of the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns. With the Lakers up 33-20 at the end of the 1st quarter, Bryant sat and watched his teammates do what he thought they couldn’t; be successful without him. Jackson sat his superstar against the Suns who seem to be able to score even when the clocks not running. They can comeback from a 20-point deficit in a matter of minutes. But, Jackson was able to keep Bryant on the bench thanks to the Lakers deep bench. Kobe wasn’t reinserted into the lineup until 5:39 left in the half and during that time the Lakers had extended the lead to 54-37. Maybe it’s time Bryant gave this team a chance.
Bryant sat and watched the players he thought weren’t good enough to win, dominate the Suns. The Suns have been first in every offensive category the past 2 seasons, but it was the Lakers who were explosive last night. The Lakers beat the Suns 119-98 to record their first victory in Phoenix in 3 years. Kobe shot 40% (6 for 15) from the field, whereas the rest of the Lakers shot 60% (42 for 70). Only Luke Walton shot a lower percentage than Bryant (36% on 4 for 11). Brian Cook was the only Laker not to score and every other player on their roster had at least 3 field goals. Did I mention that the Lakers did this without their 2nd best player, Lamar Odom?
Kobe has to be asking himself; is this the team I want to abandon? Of course they aren’t going to be able to do this day in and day out, but with the right leadership from their superstar, they can vastly improve over last season.
Oh, and Andrew Bynum, the player Kobe wanted the Lakers to ‘Ship his ass out’ was 7 for 10 for 14 points and 13 rebounds in 23 minutes of work. Kobe needs to embrace this Lakers team while he’s still in LA and not simply try and show other teams that he’s worth trading for. Bryant should stop thinking of himself as a product and instead think of himself as a teammate.