Who runs the Lakers?
If you guessed coach Mike Brown, guess again. Kobe Bryant runs that team. Normally, the coach makes the decisions and tells players what to do. But not on this team. Does Brown tell Bryant what to do? Not really. Kobe does what he wants to do, not what Brown wants him to do. You can say Brown is the coach of the Lakers--all the Lakers except Kobe.
Look at the 108-99 win over the Houston Rockets Tuesday night. That should have been a rout over a team that's undersized in the middle, with 6-10 Jordan Hill and 6-8 Luis Skola battling the Lakers' 7-footers. But after three quarters, the Lakers led only by a point, 76-75. Houston should have been blown out by then, with the Lakers big men walking all over those little Rockets. But the Lakers' bigs had to battle Kobe for the ball. At that point, he had 21 shots, making 10, while Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol had 20 shots between them, hitting on 12. The Gasol-Bynum tandem should have been dominant--and so should the Lakers. But Ball Hog Bryant was getting in the way.
Bryant wound up taking 29 shots, under those circumstances way too many. He should have backed off, taken half as many shots and let the big men rule the interior. Though Bynum had 21 points and 22 boards, and Gasol hit 7 out of 11 shots, they could have done even better. The Lakers finally took control late in the game but, with their superior talent, the game should have been over at the three-quarter mark. But not with Bryant taking as many shots as the big men.
Yes, Bryant scored 37 points, hitting 14 out of 29. But in that situation, with the Lakers' having a whopping size advantage, he should have been a secondary figure, with Gasol and Bynum getting the majority of the shots. But Bryant doesn't know how to do that. You know coach Brown would prefer Bryant to take fewer shots but the coach doesn't seem to be able to tell Bryant what to do.
Bryant should be shooting less now anyway. Remember, he has a banged-up wrist on his shooting hand. In the two games before playing Houston, he had hit only 12 out of 46 shots. That damaged wrist has to be effecting his shot. He should be shooting 10-15 times a game, but that's not enough for him. That's because he's a selfish gunner who has to keep shooting, no matter what. To hell with what's best for the team.
With age, Bryant has slowed a step, so he's become more of a jump-shooter. Naturally, he's going to hit fewer shots working from long range. But that doesn't slow the ball hog. The coach can't stop the ball hog. Can anything stop the ball hog from being a ball hog?