The return of Kobe Bryant has not gone the way the Los Angeles Lakers had hoped it would. After missing eight months with a torn Achilles tendon, the face of the franchise returned last Sunday. Bryant’s season debut ended in a loss to the Toronto Raptors and no one is a bigger critic of the “Black Mamba” than himself. He gave himself a grade of F as he scored nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and added eight rebounds and four assists.
No one ever said it would be an easy return for the 15-time All Star, but I don’t think anyone imagined the Lakers would lose the first three games of Bryant’s comeback. The ugliest coming against the Oklahoma City Thunder, as Bryant was held to just four points in the 122-97 loss.
It will be a long and slow load for both the Lakers and Bryant. At the ripe age of 35, it will take twice the time to get back in rhythm and build chemistry, but finally Bryant gave fans a reason to cheer.
Los Angeles traveled to the East coast Saturday night to take on the Charlotte Bobcats. It was a close game through out, but thanks to free throws and Bryant, the Lakers were able to pull out a win in the final minute. More importantly, they got the first win in Bryant’s comeback tour and he showed signs of his old self.
The star guard had 21 points on 8-0f-15 shooting with eight assists and seven rebounds. It is a big confidence booster for a player and team that needed one. However, I am not confident in the Lakers playoff chances. The NBA Western Conference is stacked and it will require a high level of play to even grab the eighth seed.
Bryant did show some glimpses of hope and I like the way he is getting his teammates involved, but it seems like Los Angeles is missing something. Maybe it is just time, time to get Bryant back in the mix and build chemistry with his squad. Whether or not it is only a matter of time, the Lakers are going to have a tough time making the playoffs. Bryant will need to play like his young self, but continue to distribute the basketball if the purple and gold wish to play postseason basketball.