We expected the Lakers to win with a massive advantage in rebounds. They led the Suns by 8. We expected the Lakers to win with an edge in turnovers. They had a 2 turnover advantage. We did not expect the Lakers to have a 9 point 24% advantage in 3 point shooting, and we certainly didn’t expect them to shoot a whopping 9% better overall.
People are saying Kobe went out and had a hugely efficient 40 point game to upstage LeBron James in the wake of his comparative flame-out against a stifling Boston defense. There might be a little of that going on, but I think this was a pure competitive attack against the Suns. Kobe wants them to know that they don’t have any chance of slowing him down and might as well quit. Doug Collins mentioned it last night during the game, saying that as he followed Michael Jordan throughout his career, he’d noticed Jordan had a tendency to try to crush a team in the first game and take away their hope of victory. Kobe Bean is like Jordan that way. He goes for the throat.
What’s scary for the Suns is that the Lakers beat them without really emphasizing their size advantage on offense. Gasol only took 13 shots. Bynum, who is fighting through an injured knee, only took 4 shots. Bryant could have a pedestrian performance in game 2, and the Lakers could dominate. Really. I always admired the way that Jordan would single-handedly steal a game for Chicago in a big playoff series. 54 against New York in 1993. 36 on the road against Seattle in 1996. The sort of game the erases the illusion of equality and says, “You can play your best. You can take a game, maybe two, but you we are going to win. If we play you even for the rest of the series we win. Your best isn’t good enough.” Disheartening doesn’t even cover it.
Kobe’s back. Lakers in 5.