Rule number one in beating the Los Angeles Lakers: Don’t anger Kobe Bryant.
Kobe is one of the few players in sports that effectively channels his anger into a hyper-focus that means more made shots and more aggressive defense. Just ask Ron Artest, who barked at Kobe during a game a couple weeks ago and Kobe proceeded to abuse Artest and the Rockets in an LA win.
If the playoffs started today, the Lakers would face Dallas in the first round. So what did Mavericks backup center Ryan Hollins say?
"Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the game, and I think sometimes he has issues trusting his teammates," Hollins said. "Maybe we catch them off guard, kind of get Kobe into playing a little one-on-one or doing a little too much, I think we've got a shot at them definitely."
Maybe Howard should look at the standings and notice the first thing he and his teammates should worry about is the streaking Phoenix Suns, who are three games back of Dallas for that final playoff spot.
But if LA and Dallas do meet — maybe Kobe doesn’t need to pass the ball much to beat the Mavericks. He has traditionally really hurt them. Remember that game where he scored 61 before Phil Jackson sat him for the fourth quarter? Like that.
But brilliant idea giving Kobe more motivation. Your teammates are really going to thank you for that.