Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 99, Suns 83

January, 10, 2012
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
Don't look now, but the Lakers have quietly won seven of nine after starting the season 0-2, following a 16 point win over Phoenix Tuesday at Staples.

There was much to like on a night where the Lakers had a few things stacked against them.

Here are six takeaways...

1. Leaning on Kobe Bryant this much has to stop (though watching him be leaned on can make for serious entertainment).

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire
Kobe Bryant would like you to know he's still very, very good at basketball. 48 points Tuesday night is the NBA's high water mark for the season.

Kobe started the game on fire, working from all his comfort spots to light up the board with 17 points in the first quarter, hitting eight of his first 11 shots. He was effective in the mid-post, then working on the perimeter with catch-and-shoot opportunities. As the game went along, the looks generally got harder, with more looks in isolation, and some of the choices weren't so choice. But down the stretch he was extremely effective and overall it's virtually impossible to dispute the efficiency of Kobe's 48-point night, a league-high for the season. 18-of-31 from the floor, with a tidy 12-of-13 from the line.

It was a spectacular display of offensive skill.

Spry as Bryant looked-- mileage, bum wrist, etc. notwithstanding-- it's not a healthy way to proceed. First, expecting/relying on him to produce like this for another 55 games is basketball suicide. It'll wear Kobe out before the playoffs arrive, and equally important will stunt the development of the team's offense. The Lakers have to find other ways to consistently generate offense, and make sure they don't get lulled into the (understandably easy) trap of always looking towards him. Mike Brown and Co. have a great feel now of how to put Kobe in position to succeed, and now they have to figure it out for everyone else.

Great game from Bryant -- one hopefully not replicated too often during the season.

POSTGAME UPDATE: Our bosses in Bristol will be pleased to know Kobe noticed this summer's extensive NBA Rank project. "Not bad for the seventh best player in the league," Bryant said of his game.

2. Luke Walton gave quality minutes.

With Josh McRoberts (toe), Troy Murphy (stomach bug) and Jason Kapono (welcoming newborn twins into the world) unavailable, the Lakers dusted off Walton for more minutes than he's played in a long, long time. April 13, 2010 against Sacramento to be exact -- another game where players sat (Kobe, Bynum) or were limited by injury (Jordan Farmar). Given the rust, Walton acquitted himself well. He was active on the glass, sustaining a few trips with good work on the offensive boards, including a key offensive rebound with three minutes to go, setting up a nice lob from Matt Barnes to Bryant and effectively icing the game. Add to that a few nice passes and even a good defensive play or two, and he becomes one of the team's bigger stars, context considered.

He doesn't get many chances, and on a night where the Lakers needed some support, Walton was able to provide it. Final line: 26:21 of PT, six points, eight rebounds, three assists.

POSTGAME UPDATE: Brown, not surprisingly, had nice things to say about Walton's game. "Walton was phenominal. He hadn't played since Sacramento. You talk about a pro's pro, he's kept himself ready, his number was called, and he stepped in and ahd a whale of a game for us. You talk about eight rebounds, five of those offensive rebounds, six points and three assists, you know he was very good for us in the 26 minutes he played, especially having not played for a long time."

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Kobe Bryant
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.1
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.1