Proving the haters right
The Lakers provided a glimmer of hope as they, well at least Kobe, played well for the first half of yesterday's 95-87 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the playoffs. Partly due to the Lakers defense, and the other part due to the Suns horrific shooting the Lakers led pretty much throughout the game until the middle of the fourth quarter and from that point on they were never back in it. Kobe did a spectacular job in the first half hitting from all over including draining a 3 over two defenders at the end of the first half to give the Lakers a 9 point halftime lead.
Up until that point the Lakers did a great job limiting the Suns to just 39 points at halftime.
Then, came the second half which was a different story. For the first half of the 3rd quarter the Lakers still played well, extending the lead to as many as 12 before it was time for the Leandro Barbosa show. Barbosa was the x-factor that killed us yesterday. He led the way in the 3rd quarter as he hit a ridiculous 3 at the buzzer to cut the Lakers lead to 3. In pathetic fashion the Lakers only put up 10 points in the 4th quarter. As Phil Jackson said "What we do know is that we can play with this ballclub, and we have the energy to contain them for a full game. They played a 48-minute game and we played a 36-minute game." This was absolutely correct, the Lakers played great 3 quarters and faded down the stretch, as they have done numerous times this season.
Kobe struggled to put up 11 points in the second half after a brilliant first half. The problem in this is Kobe was on fire so he thought he could win the game himself. Which he definitely can do at times but yesterday was not one of them. He forced the issue too much, shot too often and did not pass the ball to his teammates when they were open. There were plenty of instances where he came down was doubled and did not kick it to the wide open man behind the arc. Sure these guys are not dependable at times, but if Sasha or Mo is wide open then I don't mind them taking that three instead of Kobe having to drive get cut off by a second man and throwing up a crazy 18 footer over two players, especially at the end of the game when his legs were clearly not there compared to the first half. This is the type of play that that Kobe haters have been pointing to when arguing why Kobe is not a great player. It really hurts to see in games as big as this that Kobe proves the haters right. We've only got one day until Game 2, we need the Kobe that proves the haters wrong.