Kobe Bryant has had a huge issue playing steady basketball since his return from an Achilles tear. In the five games since his return, the Los Angeles Lakers are 1-4 and have fallen three games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. The biggest concern about all of this is which version of Kobe is the one that will continue showing up for the majority of the season? Is it the Bryant that scores 20+ points and shows flashes of brilliance or is it the Kobe that is going to turn the ball over close to 10 times and fail to score double digits?
If Bryant continues struggling every other game, the Lakes are bound to keep free-falling in the West. Before Kobe returned, the Lakers were playing solid basketball and were right in the mix for the final playoff spot. Ever since Bryant stepped back on the court, the Lakers just haven’t been the same. Friction between head coach Mike D’Antoni and Pau Gasol continues to mount. No one on the bench aside from Nick Young has been very productive, and the worst of it all is the issues at point guard for the Lakers.
The problems in Los Angeles aren’t going to be easy to overcome. That is the biggest reason Kobe needs to be the guy who can score 20-plus points a night and even give us those 30-plus point performances when needed. It’s clearly not easy to return from a severe injury, and Bryant may just need a few more games to get back in the full swing of things. But if Kobe needs other members of the Lakers to step up then he may be asking too much.
Tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies will tell a lot about Kobe to this point. Bryant has scored at least 20 points in every other game since his return. Well, tonight is that every other game moment. If Kobe fails to have a good game then things may be worse in Los Angeles than they currently already are.
Will the real Black Mamba please stand up.