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Kobe's Unshakable Confidence

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Kobe Bryant has always seemed to me like a character out of Greek mythology or a classic novel -– his greatest strength is also the cause of his undoing. Sunday in game one against the Suns, it was part of the Lakers undoing.

Kobe could not be Kobe without his supreme self-confidence, without his unshakable belief that the next shot is going to fall regardless of if he made the last one, regardless of where he is on the court or how many people are defending him.

That leads to many games where he hits the clutch shot, or just takes over and scores 50+ and drags his teammates to a win. But that confidence is a double-edged sword. Laker fans lamented Kobe’s shot selections and deep threes as the Suns pulled away in the fourth quarter Sunday, but he was taking similar shots earlier in the game. In the first half those shots fell, so nobody questions it; in the second half they didn’t. But you have to know Kobe won’t stop taking them.

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The bigger problem is that Kobe taking over pulled the Lakers out of the style that had gotten them the lead in the first place. In the first half the Lakers were deliberate when they had the ball, playing slow and getting the ball to Lamar Odom, Luke Walton or even Kobe down near the basket, allowing them to post up their defender. That opened up some room outside for Kobe to operate as well.

When the Suns made their second half run Kobe's unflinching confidence told him it was time to take over, and the Lakers stopped feeding the ball inside. Almost ignored was Lamar Odom (who made five of his eight shots in the second half) or the idea of being deliberate.

To be fair, if Kobe had kept hitting those shots, if he hadn’t gone 1 for 10 shooting in the fourth quarter this post wouldn't exist. But when the Suns set out to stop him Kobe didn’t give up the ball to his teammates, he shot. He thought he could make it. He always does. But this time he missed the mark.

If the Lakers are going to win game two (Tuesday, 7:30, Channel 9 and TNT), Kobe is going to have to hit some of those key shots. But when two and three defenders run at him, the other Lakers need to be given their shot. They can hit them, too.

AP photo by Ross D. Franklin