On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 111-103 with 36-year-old Kobe Bryant recording his second triple-double of the season.
From the way he started the game, Bryant offered good value to do something special. In his first shift, which lasted nine minutes and 11 seconds, Bryant made all three of his shots for eight points. With the Nuggets double teaming the Lakers' superstar, he began making defense-splitting passes. With his precise passing, Bryant got teammates involved early and recorded four assists before grabbing his first rest of the evening.
"I've got to evolve," Bryant explained after the game on TWC SportsNet. "I've got to evolve and focus more on all-around stuff and setting up guys. I just don't have the legs to be in aggressive mode to score the ball for 48 minutes or whatever the case may be. So, I just got to make adjustments and perfect another area."
The third greatest scorer in NBA history changed his focus, and finally, he sounded like he had accepted that he could not solely carry a team on his back by shooting the basketball. Bryant also raised his hands and verbally accepted the idea of not playing beyond 30 to 32 minutes per night.
Back in the first quarter, Bryant also hit the boards. With the Lakers worried about Denver's offensive rebounding entering the game, Bryant also had four rebounds in the first quarter--all on the defensive end.
After one quarter, Bryant recording a triple-double seemed likely. After the first half, the Lakers winning also seemed to be in the cards. LA took its largest halftime lead of the season into the locker room: 62-46.
After the break, the visitors continued to push the notion that the final result was not in doubt. At one point, the Lakers led the Nuggets by 23 points. However, that would quickly change.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lakers' second unit struggled to hit shots, and a 23-point game was suddenly a two possession game with 7:30 to play. Turnovers hurt the Lakers, as the Nuggets took advantage of the Lakers' weakness by outscoring the Lakers 32-11 in points off turnovers.
With the game on the line and Nick Young having a quiet night on the court, Bryant earned trips to the foul line and scored nine valuable points in the final seven minutes of a game that was a couple more turnovers away from being a forgettable loss.
"The defenses are loading up (on me)," Bryant said after the game. "I've just got to make the easy play. I had turnovers there I'm not happy about--just some miscommunication between us and some timing that we'll work out. But, overall, it's good to get a road win."
Bryant had nine turnovers to go along with 23 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. He only attempted 11 shots. Even with the turnovers, Bryant and the Lakers played well. Tuesday night was the Lakers' first win against the Nuggets since Nov. 30, 2012.
Notes: The Lakers hit 14 three-pointers on the night, which was a season high. The team shot 56 percent from beyond the arc, continuing the Lakers' recent hot trend from downtown.