Kobe Bryant carried and willed the Los Angeles Lakers to a ridiculous comeback victory on Wednesday night in New Orleans.
“He’s Kobe Bryant for a reason,” teammate Jodie Meeks said when asked to comment on Bryant’s 42-point, 12-assist, and seven-rebound performance. “I think he scored when we needed him to score, and he distributed when we needed him to.”
Down by 21 points with less than 13 minutes remaining, Kobe Bryant refused to accept defeat on Wednesday night in New Orleans. Bryant, who did not take a rest in the second half, said fatigue was never a concern.
“I’m in shape,” Bryant dismissed a question about fatigue. “I work all summer long to be in tip-top shape. And this is what I’m supposed to do.”
Bryant scored 18 points and dished four assists in the comeback quarter.
His play in the fourth quarter would be unbelievable save for the fact that he’s been pulling rabbits out of hats for 17 years. At this point, leaving people speechless is just what he does. The “Magic Mamba” nickname may have even more meaning after Wednesday night.
While Lakers fans were still trying to wrap their head around the Lakers’ miraculous 25-point comeback victory, Bryant’s talked about what the win meant to the team.
“Well, we decided to play defense in the fourth quarter,” Bryant responded when asked how the Lakers won a game where they trailed by 25 points at halftime and 18 points in the fourth quarter.
Before even leaving the court, Bryant made a point to share the victory with the other player that made the comeback possible—Dwight Howard (read about Howard’s defense).
“We both did what we were supposed to do,” Bryant said calmly. “I led the charge offensively; he led us defensively.“
He made it sound so simple, and it appeared logical that seeing the dominating duo destroy opponents should be a regular occurrence at the office—except that it has not happened offen this season. Instead, the Lakers have repeatedly faced adversity this season.
“Games like this really strengthen a bond between us players, and that’s really what the playoffs (are) about,” Bryant said in the locker room. “You have adversity, and it’s about who’s going to stick together and who’s not going to break.”
Although the performance may be questioned due to the opponents (the Hornets are not a good team), the determination and focus required to complete the comeback were impressive regardless of the opponent. After having gone through that, the Lakers are a mentally stronger team.
“We’re certainly much tougher now than we were at the beginning of the season, but adversity does that,” Bryant said. “It can do one of two things. It can break you. If you have a weaker mind, it’ll break you. But if you decide to let it build you up, make you stronger, then that is what happens.”
Well, the Los Angeles Lakers certainly have faced adversity this season, and the win in New Orleans was a microcosm of the season thus far: the Lakers trailed early, fell behind badly before halftime, managed to not completely crash in the third quarter, and made a strong run to make a game of it.
The Lakers finished the game on a 20-0 run against the Hornets. If the remainder of the season stays true to Wednesday’s game-line, the Lakers may well get as far up as the sixth seed—only four games up in the standings. If that happens, the Lakers would likely be matched up against the Clippers.
Wouldn’t that be something?