February 19, 2010

Should Kobe Bryant Return Now?

Let's make this clear: As good as the Los Angeles Lakers have been in the last five games, Derek Fisher is no Kobe Bryant.

Down by a point with two ticks left, the Lakers had a chance to steal a game from the hated Boston Celtics, but the Lakers missed the clutch presence of Kobe Bryant. Derek Fisher took the last shot that had little because of the tight D the Celts had in place in the final seconds. That shot virtually had no chance of going in.

But let's try to look at the big picture: In the last five games without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers had been pretty OK. As expected, Pau Gasol has been the primary option for most part of that stretch, but we're also seeing Lamar Odom step up and be more aggressive.

But the bigger revelation has been Shannon Brown. He has almost doubled his scoring output (from 8 to 15 points in the last five games), rebounds, (2 to 4), and assists (1.5 to 3). His big game was the win over the Golden State Warriors where he exploded for a career-high 27 points and 10 boards. If you ask me, he seems determined to put the All-Star game brouhaha behind him.

So, should Kobe Bryant return? I say no. Give him time to rest and unleash him to hapless opponents in the Playoffs.

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