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The Way It Should Feel

A short note on two plays from Wednesday night's win over Sacramento:

On the first, Kobe inbounds the ball to Lamar Odom, steps in bounds, gets the ball back from Odom on a touch pass, squares to the basket (still out near the sideline), and lofts the ball to a back-cutting Odom for an alleyoop dunk.

Took less than three seconds; William Carlos Williams thought it was a pithy little thing of beauty -- all instinct and rhythm.

On the second, with the clock running out at the end of the second quarter, Kobe grabs a defensive rebound, turns and heads up the right sideline and fires a two-hand-chest pass the length of the court (and just inches above the outstretched fingers of the Kings' Beno Udrih) to Matt Barnes who lays it up as the buzzer sounds.

Looked like Montana-to-Rice on a go route, as if they had been doing it forever. Kobe walked off the floor nodding his head.

He had twelve assists on the night (six in the first quarter alone) on his way to his seventeenth career triple-double. But it wasn't the number that impressed, it was the quality. The Brothers K talked Wednesday night about how easily Kobe did things against the Kings, and they were right. But even more than ease, there was a deep-seated connectedness about his game. The line between him and Odom, between him and Barnes, was sturdy and natural.

We talk all the time about decisions Kobe makes and tactics he uses. And we should -- the basketball I.Q. is high. We talk all the time about how fierce Kobe is. And we should -- the will to win is intense. But there were moments against Sacramento when he didn't seem strategic so much as integrated. And there were times when he didn't just seem determined to win, he seemed, I don't know how else to say it, steeped in the game, way up in it.

Updated: November 4, 2010, 8:21 PM ET
By Eric Neel

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