Kobe Bryant was a game-time decision with flu-like symptoms on Tuesday night. Seeing him in the locker room prior to the game, Bryant was even more serious and focused than usual.
There was no doubt that he was going to play against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Anyone who said otherwise didn’t understand Kobe Bryant.
Good thing Kobe decided to play because he put together a 13-point first quarter to keep the Lakers close. The rest of the team only managed eight points over the first 12 minutes.
When Kobe was subbed out of the game, he was doing his best Steve Nash impression by laying on the ground next to the bench. On the court, Bryant was certainly not doing his best Nash impression. He committed three of the Lakers’ five turnovers in the first quarter.
The first quarter would prove to be a microcosm of the entire game. Bryant shot the Lakers into the game and gave them a chance, but he also kept turning the ball over. Kobe’s 40 points accounted for more than half of the Lakers’ 77 points on the night. Meanwhile, his 10 turnovers were unforgivable. No one else on the team had more than two turnovers.
However, no other Laker was able to shoot as consistently from the field and the free throw line as Bryant. He shot a respectable 12-for-28, 42.8 percent from the field. His teammates shot 12-for-48, 25 percent on the night. Kobe matched the rest of his team in field goals made in the game.
From the charity stripe, Kobe made 11 of 13 free throws. The rest of the Lakers made 12 of 30 foul shots, 40 percent. Kobe had a fever, but the Lakers were ice cold.
In the second quarter, Kobe went through a mini-shooting slump and went 1-for-8 from the field. The Lakers wound up scoring only 12 points in the quarter. If Kobe wasn't scoring, the Lakers weren't scoring.
On Tuesday night, a sick Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, and the Lakers still could not put up 80 points on the night. Without Kobe, this could have been a much uglier show.