The Lakers just beat the Warriors in overtime, 118-115. Here’s the box score. Listed as the “top performer” of the game by ESPN is Kobe Bryant, who had a line of 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Great game, right?
Wrong. Bryant got his 34 points by making 16 out of a whopping 41 shots. With his 41 shots, Bryant shot a grand total of one free throw in the game. Bryant’s shooting percentages are historically average; his value as an offensive player comes from getting to the free throw line early and often. If Bryant doesn’t make his way to the free throw line, he’s not a good player.
Fortunately, for the Lakers, Bryant was bailed out by Metta World Peace (20 points, 13 shots), Jordan Hill (14 points, 9 shots), and Steve Nash (12 points, 8 shots). The real player of the game for the Lakers was probably Hill, who scored his 14 points in 21 minutes, and grabbed eight rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds. The contributions of World Peace, Hill, and Nash were just enough for the Lakers to scrape together a victory despite Bryant’s miserable performance.
If the Lakers want to claw their way back to the status of being a title contender, they need Kobe Bryant to immediately become something other than an inefficient ball hog with lackluster defense.