Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles to the basket against J.R. Smith #8 and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks in the first half during the NBA game at Staples Center on December 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Knicks 100-94.
Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony came into the Christmas Day game pitting the Los Angeles Lakers against the New York Knicks as the top two scoring players in the league, and both players showed exactly why that was the case. Both Anthony and Bryant scored 34 points in the Lakers’ 100-94 win over the Knicks, and it was hard to clearly pick which player played better on the day.
Entering the game, Bryant averaged about one more shot attempt than Anthony, but Bryant also shot slightly more efficiently than Anthony. Kobe was 47.1 percent from the field on 21.5 shot attempts per game. Anthony was 46.8 percent from the field with 20.6 shot attempts per game.
Sometimes, numbers don’t lie.
On Christmas Day, Melo and Kobe may have both been on par when it came to points, but Kobe was slightly more efficient. Kobe made 14 of 24 shots (58.3 percent) from the field compared to Melo’s 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) from the field. The difference between the two best scorers in the league is slight, and Kobe is actually more efficient than Melo.
Prior to the game, Triple Threat explained why Bryant could not win the Most Valuable Player award this season even if the Lakers went on a miraculous run and did not lose another game (purely hypothetical). Well, there may be a slight wrinkle in that thinking.
If Kobe continues to out-play every MVP candidate in every big game for the remainder of the season, he deserves the MVP, and he may even get it. The Lakers have likely already thrown away their chance at finishing with the best record in the league or the conference, but Kobe Bryant is not to blame for the Lakers being at .500 after 28 games (yes, it finally happened: the Lakers don’t have a losing record! Merry Christmas!).
Kobe has been the best player on the Lakers this season, and he carried the team even when they were losing. He was not the reason the Lakers were losing. He was the reason the Lakers were losing close games rather than getting completely blown out.
Even when the Lakers were bad, Kobe was great. For a while there, he was the only part of Lakers games that was somewhat watchable (yes, the Lakers were that bad).
Now, he has a point guard, a healthy power forward, and a full team around him. He is still undoubtedly the best player on his team and on the floor most every night. When the Lakers were teasing a double digit deficit in the third quarter against the Knicks, Kobe came to the rescue by scoring 11 points in the quarter on his way to 19 in the second half.
Nash may get the credit for being the final piece in the puzzle, but Bryant is one massively important component and gives this team a special chance at becoming great. If Bryant out-shoots Durant, Lebron, and every other MVP candidate en route to Laker wins, he should get the MVP this season regardless of where the Lakers end up.
On Christmas Day, he out-shot Carmelo Anthony, and the Lakers won. If voting occurred today, Bryant would likely steal a couple votes away from Melo.
Basketball may be a team game, but when it comes to individuals, it doesn’t get much better than Kobe Bean Bryant.
Merry Christmas, Lakers fans!