No challenge doubting Lakers

AP Photo/DayLifeNever count out someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to win.

when Kobe Bryant is on the floor, just about anything can happen and he will do just about anything to assure himself and his team a win. Even if that means he has to take 20 or so shots or score an insane amount of points, Kobe Bryant is not someone who is going to walk away from a fight, even when the outcome looks grim for him.

Things are certainly starting to look pretty grim in Los Angeles as the team, still struggling to adjust to Mike Brown and fill in its shortcomings, beginning to tear apart from its seams.

Kobe Bryant spent a good part of last week insisting that anyone who counts the Lakers out is “mentally challenged” but the evidence continues to pile up that the Lakers are not quite what they were in their past championship runs.

The Lakers have not been short on controversy this year starting with the failed Chris Paul bid and the trade of disgruntled and despondent Lamar Odom at the start of the year to late game rotation issues, the integration of a new point guard mid season and the realization that some players might just be getting old. There are plenty of reasons to doubt the Lakers. You doubt Kobe Bryant at your own risk.

But recent developments continue to throw coal on that fire.

 

The latest came this weekend with Kobe Bryant going 3 for 21 in a win over New Orleans — of course Bryant hit the shot that mattered for his team. Adding more fuel to those fires, Andrew Bynum insisted he should get more opportunities to score outside the paint and has taken to shooting 3-pointers within the offense. Maybe it was some basketball karma that he limped off the court against Golden State with a sprained ankle.

 

The rumblings are that the Lakers have been dissatisfied with Bynum’s attitude in games recently has irked some Lakers, according to Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News. Bynum was visibly and verbally despondent when he was benched late in games recently. His new shot selection is not helping matters as the All Star tries to find his place in this offense and assert himself ahead of the struggling Pau Gasol.

AP Photo/DayLifeStill, Los Angeles won’t go away and Kobe is absolutely right when he told Fran Blinebury of NBA.com:

“Everybody looks at us. Everybody sees us. Everybody picks and criticizes everything we do. It’s easy to do so. There are a lot of things that easily are ‘critique-able’ and people are always taking the liberty do so.

“It reminds me of our last championship run. We were in a similar position as well. We were over the hill. We don’t have Phil [Jackson]. We are not coming off a championship. It’s a similar thing.

“It happens all the time with us, so in a way it’s comfortable. It’s something I’ve learned to live with, all the controversies over one thing or another, all the doubts. Actually, of all the championships that we won, we only really had one season where we led wire to wire. You can look it up.”

The Lakers are not a start-to-finish type of championship team. And they are not out of the fight despite everything that has gone on.

The Lakers are still third in the West and 1.5 games ahead of the Clippers. With Bryant still able to put up 40, like he did Sunday in response to that horrible offensive performance against New Orleans, Pau Gasol being a decent option in the post and Andrew Bynum providing defensive length, the Lakers are still a very very dangerous team.

There might be problems in the run of the regular season, but everyone knows Bryant will not let that distract his team come Playoff time. This roster may have some shortcomings that will be revealed in the postseason. But these in-season squabbles and unrest will either disappear or come more to the surface as the stakes get higher.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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