Kobe Bryant earned his first win of the season, and the Los Angeles Lakers needed that one in a bad way. Bryant played 32 minutes on Saturday—a couple minutes over the range Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni had initially targeted for the Lakers’ returning hero.
However, the Lakers were desperate for a win, and Bryant performed well enough when called upon.
The Black Mamba finished with 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He shot over 50 percent from the field and even nailed his first two 3-pointers of the season. He attempted 15 shots from the field, which was a season-high. With Michael Jordan sitting courtside, Bryant was forcing the issue offensively, and he was shooting a good percentage.
However, Bryant’s seven turnovers were a giant red stain on an otherwise immaculate purple and gold game jersey. If it was one rare blemish, it would be easily ignored. However, Bryant’s turnovers have stained nearly every box score following his return to the court.
Since returning, Bryant has recorded seven or more turnovers on three occasions. A better way to phrase that would be to state that Bryant has only had one game where he did not turn the ball over at least seven times. That is not a good statistic.
After four games, he already has 25 turnovers on the season. Steve Blake, who started at point guard for 21 games, only turned the ball over 52 times all year. Bryant is nearly halfway to overtaking Blake after only four games. To clarify the point, Bryant is currently averaging the most turnovers per game in the NBA--fact.
In his defense, the Lakers are asking Bryant to play point guard and many of his turnovers result from rushed passes up court, but consistent carelessness with the ball is not helping win games--especially on the road. Although deserved, the Lakers’ win over the Bobcats was not entirely convincing.
The Lakers play Monday night in Atlanta and Tuesday night in Memphis. LA has failed to sweep a back to back this season, but even a split would be welcomed at this point. In order for the Lakers to fly home to LA with any more wins, Bryant must scrape off the rust and take care of the basketball.