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Kobe's Scoring Is Bad For The Lakers?

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While Kobe had an “off night” when he put up 43 against Golden State on Sunday, breaking his streak of games scoring 50 or more at four, he could return to his high scoring ways tonight against Memphis. The same Memphis he dropped 60 on last week.

But is that a good thing? A few have questioned it, saying that Kobe’s offensive dominance is stifling team growth, short-circuiting a return to the team play of earlier this season (when he Lakers were winning). They say its like a cheeseburger — fun now but bad for you in the long run.

Personally, I think those people ignored the warnings and took the brown acid.

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First let’s talk bottom line — the Lakers had lost seven in a row before Kobe’s scoring streak and had played like crap for a month. Now, they have won five in a row, solidifying a playoff spot just a week after people were whispering that the team would drop of the postseason out all together.

And let’s talk about those stymied other players. Since he came back from injury (six games ago), Lamar Odom has shot 58% from the floor and averaged 16.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, including 23 and 19 against Golden State. Luke Walton came back five games ago (timed with the winning streak — coincidence?) and is averaging 9.4 points, 7.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds a game. Then there are the other guys getting room to step up as Kobe has drawn the double and triple teams. Shammond Williams is coming off the bench, shooting 53.8% from beyond the arc and taking care of the ball. Ronny Turiaf had 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in the fourth quarter against Golden State off the bench. Against the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Vagabonds, Kwame Brown stepped up with 10 points on 5-7 shooting.

Yup, Kobe is really holding those guys back.

The bottom line is this team needed someone to kick them in the ass and get them winning again, and Kobe has done that. He’s done that in spite of the team playing some of its worst defense of the year. He’s done it and his teammates have started to respond and step up to help him. What Kobe did was get his team back on a winning track. And that’s what you ask a superstar to do.

AP photo by Mark J. Terrill