Kobe Bryant turned the ball over once in the Los Angeles Lakers 103-98 win over the Sacramento Kings. His only turnover immediately led to a Kings’ fast-break and a bucket by DeMarcus Cousins. With Bryant’s not throwing the ball away on Saturday, the Lakers only committed seven turnovers as a team. That was their lowest turnover output since Jan. 1, 2013—43 games ago.
In fact, Bryant has recorded seven or more turnovers by himself five times this season. He’s carelessly handed the ball over five or more times on 26 occasions this season, so the Lakers taking care of the basketball on Saturday night felt about as familiar as watching a fully healthy Laker team.
However, the Lakers taking care of the ball was a welcomed sight. For the Lakers to have a chance at the playoffs, some publicly called out Kobe Bryant to pass more and turn the ball over less.
Thursday night, he did just that, and the Lakers won.
His lone turnover came early in the game, and he played the point to perfection with 14 assists to go along with his 19 points. Bryant passed Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list, but his focus was more on playing point guard than shooting guard on his historic night.
With Steve Nash unable to play even two minutes, Bryant took over point guard duties, but he did not rush the ball up the court by throwing careless 40-foot passes. Instead, he played intelligent basketball, and he utilized the talents of the best passing big man in the game.
Pau Gasol recorded a double-double despite only pulling down two rebounds against the Kings. His 10 assists were a joy to watch, and Dwight Howard’s 71 percent from the field was largely due to the passing of Gasol and Bryant.
Gasol and Bryant were responsible for 24 of the Lakers’ 28 assists on the night, and the duo helped the Lakers finish with six Lakers scoring in double digits.
Offensive balance and lack of turnovers, the Lakers may be on to something here. Also, holding the Kings to fewer than 100 points after giving up 37 points in the first quarter was a positive result for the team defense.
Howard’s five blocks, 15 rebounds, and 24 points were instrumental, but Howard’s overall presence and activity on the defensive end of the floor was far more impressive than his stat-line.
Yes, the Kings may not be much in the standings, but the Lakers played the right way, and they provided the smallest glimmer of hope that they may not end up being a total embarrassment.
Sad, isn’t it? Oh, how the expectations have fallen. Still, after a balanced performance like, the faintest bit of hope remains.