As the Los Angeles Lakers rolled into Charlotte on Saturday evening to take on the Charlotte Bobcats, they still had yet to notch a win in the two games since superstar Kobe Bryant‘s return from the Achilles injury he suffered on April 12 of this year. Bryant has looked sluggish on the floor in his first two games back, and it looked as though it was going to take some time for him to return to form.
To make matters even more difficult, the injuries decimating the point guard depth of the Lakers was going to force Bryant to start at point guard for the second game this season in an attempt to lead his team to victory. The Black Mamba returned in a monster 21-point, eight-assist and seven-rebound performance to lead the Lake Show to an 88-85 victory over the Bobcats in Time Warner Arena.
It was a beautiful sight Lakers Nation to see Bryant out on the floor getting closer and closer to his pre-injury form. He was still clearly quite tentative driving to the basket, but is obviously feeling more confident in his abilities night after night.
Few remember that Bryant was actually drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA draft before being immediately traded to the Lakers for the since retired Vlade Divac. The Lakers may still sneak into the playoffs this season under the leadership of Bryant as a low-end seed, but have little to no chance of making a Championship run unless they make some major moves before the trade deadline.
Bryant has already been locked into a two-year extension with the Lakers, making this season about Bryant’s rehab and the Lakers analyzing which bench players they want to keep for next year. The 2014 free agent class is going to make or break next year’s championship team, and the Lakers are front-runners to bring in another superstar to coexist with the Mamba.
Until then, Lakers fans will have to enjoy their small victories like Bryant’s success against the Bobcats on Saturday night.
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