Kobe Bryant has hoisted 23,700 shots in his Hall of Fame career, twice has led the NBA in scoring and is the youngest player to reach 30,000 points in league history.
Now, at age 34, he has morphed into a facilitator and de facto point guard. He brushed aside a notion that it's merely a temporary thing, or some form of hoops amnesia.
"It can keep up," he said. "I'm enjoying it."
Bryant's pass-first persona emerged as the Los Angeles Lakers' season careened off course into a thick morass of underachievement and in-house squabbles. The circus blew through town Friday, and for Timberwolves fans who view their season as a buzzkill, the Lakers provide further proof that even the best-laid plans don't always produce desired results.
The Lakers flipped the page on a forgettable month with a 111-100 victory at Target Center. That Lakers team looked nothing like the one that began the day with a 20-26 record and in 10th place in the Western Conference -- a position few would have predicted last offseason when Steve Nash and Dwight Howard joined Bryant to form a conglomerate of superstars that rivaled the Miami Heat's championship marquee.
Their Tinseltown parade plans got put on hold as the Lakers turned the first half of their season into a soap opera rife with juicy subplots. The team fired coach Mike Brown after a 1-4 start and replaced him with Mike D'Antoni, whose players are still struggling to adjust to his system and coaching style. Howard has complained publicly about his role and touches on offense, and Pau Gasol voiced his displeasure after being replaced in the starting lineup.
The Lakers rank near the bottom of the league in scoring defense, and Friday's victory was their first on the road since before Christmas. They've also dealt with the injury bug hitting Nash and Howard. .
The Lakers bottomed out following a 95-83 loss in Chicago last week, which prompted a closed-door meeting a few days later, a bad sign for any team. Later that day, D'Antoni provided a blunt self-assessment to the Los Angeles Times.
Lakers step up effort to win their way out of this mess
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Feb 2