tclakin

Kobe Can’t Finish in Game 3

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Kobe and the Lakers can't afford a repeat of Game 3

Kobe and the Lakers can't afford a repeat of Game 3

31 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and one L. 

That’s Kobe’s line from last night’s Game 3 against the Orlando Magic, and that pesky little L should fall squarely on his superstar shoulders.

Even the glowing ABC announcers couldn’t spin Kobe’s Game 3 crunch-time performance into anything more than an epic fail. He missed free throws, he clanged unnecessary 3-pointers, and he made inexcusable turnovers – including one in the closing seconds with a chance to give the Lakers the win. Not exactly what you expect from the crowned King of the NBA. 

It was Bryant’s first stumble in an otherwise sterling stretch of 2009 playoff games. But it was a costly stumble. Sure, it’s clear that, yes, Kobe wants to win this series badly. It’s written all over his scowling, unintentionally funny, possibly mirror-practiced “game face.” And, as much as brushes off the Shaq talk, it’s undeniable that O’Neal’s presence (or lack thereof) is playing a huge role in Kobe’s desire to win this year. He wants – needs – to win a ring as the dominant player on his team but thus far, his record of doing so stands at 0 and 1 (thank you, 2008 Celtics). You can argue all you want about who was more important to the Laker three-peat – Kobe or Shaq – but the fact remains that Shaq has won a championship without Kobe Bryant. Granted, he had a lights-out, healthy Dwayne Wade in Miami but at the same time, Shaq was much older when he won with the Heat, with countless game miles on his stretch Escalade frame. All Kobe has done since he orchestrated Shaq’s departure from LA is, well, lose in the Finals. Something he desperately wants to avoid this time around. And, through 2 games it looked like the Lakers had this series all locked up. 

But what Kobe Bryant doesn’t want to do – under any circumstances – is let the Orlando Magic think they can win this series. And last night, by failing to come through with the game on the line, that is exactly what he did. Their Game 3 win gave the Magic a much needed dose of confidence and put an extra hop in their step heading into Game 4. Before last night, I don’t think Dwight Howard and the rest of the Magic truly believed they could beat this Lakers team and a Kobe who, thus far in the series, had demonstrated a historic level of basketball ruthlessness.

Today, I would imagine that the Orlando Magic players woke up with a little hope – maybe only a glimmer, but hope nonetheless. And in a series that hinges on the championship insecurities of a superstar, a glimmer of hope can turn into a bolt of momentum. If Kobe falters and the Lakers lose again, this series will swing wide open, leaving a huge hole for the Magic to waltz right through on their way to an upset. A hole larger than the state of California. A hole as big as Kobe Bryant’s ego. 

A hole the size of Shaquille O’Neal.

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  1. The article is usefull for me. I’ll be coming back to your blog.

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