You still have a problem with Kobe Bryant hoisting 30-something shots some nights?
Kobe held to 62 points vs. Mavs
What's your stance on 30-point quarters?
The only issue you could have Tuesday night is with the (apparently) joint coach/player decision that Kobe would sit for the entire fourth ... after Bryant rung up a tidy 62 points for Phil Jackson through three.
Not me, though. I actually side with Kobe and the Zenmeister on this one.
After Kobe went for 30 points in the third quarter alone, to put the Los Angeles Lakers up by 34 in an eventual 112-90 trouncing of the Dallas Mavericks, I wouldn't have risked No. 8 getting hurt in a game that was already over. I'd want to take every precaution to keep Kobe healthy in the hope that that this was merely the first time this season he makes a run at 70 or 80.
As stated in this cyberspace more than once recently, this is the thinnest, weakest team Phil Jackson has ever coached. As well as the Lakers have played in their 9-3 December, with Kobe taking more than 24 shots only four times this month, you can expect plenty of occasions as the season unfolds where Bryant absolutely has to take 30-odd shots for L.A. to have a chance to win.
Unless, of course, you believe in Smush Parker as a No. 3 option and consider Brian Cook to be a legit starting four-man for a playoff-caliber team.
To quote my dear friend Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune, a fellow backer of Kobe Unplugged: "Right now, just enjoy the show."
The time to torch Kobe for shooting too many shots is when the Lakers have re-established a core with a real future ... and he's still firing away instead of making teammates better.
This is a time to be grateful for spectacles like Tuesday night's at Staples Center, when an assist total of zero didn't change the fact that Kobe was wicked good. Too good for his own good, really.
Entering the fourth quarter, with the Lakers safely ahead by 95-61, you could read the scoreboard another way.
Kobe 62, Dallas 61.
It was simply too ridiculous for Phil to put Kobe back in.
I was fortunate enough to be courtside in L.A. on April 24, 1994 when San Antonio's David Robinson savaged the Clippers for 71 points. This, though, was sicker. Slicker, too.
Robinson's eruption came on the last day of the 1993-94 regular season, with a scoring title at stake and against a 27-55 opponent that didn't want to be there. This was Kobe needing only three-quarters of a game to match Tracy McGrady's 62 points for Orlando on March 10, 2004 -- the league's two biggest individual outputs in the past decade-plus since Robinson's.
This was Kobe, knowing he'd be swarmed 5-on-1 after Bryant scored 43 points in Dallas just last week, inflicting offensive destruction in a manner that could only remind you of one other guy.
It's sacrilege to some, I know, but you can consider this another step in Bryant's bid to become the first of the NBA's many Next Jordans to actually come close to matching No. 23.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
After finishing a nice Toni Kukoc inbound alley-oop, Bucks forward Andrew Bogut got help celebrating his winning shot from Jermaine Jackson, left, Mo Williams and Jiri Welsch. The Bucks beat the Spurs, 109-107, in overtime.
So do you think that the idea of curse is dead now? The Pistons have been doing pretty well in the No. 1 slot, so I'd say it is.
You're WAY over-ranking the Heat. It's nice that they got Pat and Shaq back and all, but two of their three wins last week came against Chicago (by three points) and struggling Philly. Give them a higher ranking when they take down Detroit or even sizzling Atlanta later on. Until then, they're not deserving of No. 5.
Those mighty Clips are still only 5-6 on the road. And they better hurry up, because with every stop Cassell wears out his welcome a little faster. With Minnesota it was only two years. It'll probably be only one year this time.
This is bull. Lakers beat the No. 2 team on the road and slaughtered the No. 6 team on the road, where they hadn't won since 2003. We deserve a higher ranking.
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By Royce Webb
Let's not overthink this. Let's be clear.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson screwed up -- and screwed all of us -- when he took Kobe Bryant out of the game with 12 minutes to play.
Let's look at the facts as they appeared after three quarters ...
Kobe had 62 points and counting, including 30 in the third quarter alone.
He was the best player on the floor (sorry, Dirk).
He was within nine points of the all-time single-game record for the Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. (That's 71, by Elgin Baylor, on Nov. 15, 1960.)
The game was in Hollywood, or close enough ... not only the entertainment capital of the world, but the birthplace of Showtime.
The fans were on their feet, cheering wildly. Even former Laker and sometime Hollywood actor Rick Fox was laughing and cheering, on the night he was being honored.
So ... by all means, get Kobe out of there!
Look, I've read "Sacred Hoops." I know basketball is a team game. I know there is a right way to play. I realize Phil Jackson is the Zen Master.
And I realize there was a slight chance that Kobe could have gotten hurt. Maybe the Mavs would have gotten mad and made sure Kobe felt their wrath, as they did when Josh Howard gave him a hard foul earlier in the third quarter.
But, hey, sometimes you just have to go for it. When a pitcher has a perfect game, you leave him in. When a bowler has a shot at 300, he keeps rolling the ball, no matter what the score is. And when Kobe Bryant has 62 points after three quarters, you have to find out ... Can he be the first Laker to score 75? Can he be the second player in NBA history to score 80?
People go to games and tune in on TV to watch players do what Kobe Bryant did for 36 minutes (33 minutes, actually). They want to see the great plays, the great players, the astounding performances. They want to see something they've never seen before.
The Los Angeles Times reported after the game that Jackson had left it up to Kobe whether he wanted to return "if he so desired," and he had declined: "That's not what we play for. That's not what it's about. It's not to score 70 points. We wanted to win the game, and the game was in the bag. It was in the refrigerator."
As usual, Kobe's words were well chosen. And, as usual, it's hard to take them at face value.
Does anyone think scoring and individual achievement aren't of vital importance to Bryant? Then why did he tell a teammate and a coach he planned to score 50 against the Mavs last night? Why did he have zero assists for the game? Why did he shoot 14 times (counting shots on which he was fouled, which don't count as official shot attempts) in the last five minutes of the third quarter? That's one shot every 21 seconds, for those of you scoring at home, including four 3-point attempts ... with his team up by more than 30 points toward the end of that barrage.
The fact remains, the coach decides who is in the game. Jackson removed Bryant. He left him on the bench. He could have put him back in. And surely no one believes that Kobe isn't even more curious than the rest of us just how many he can score in a game.
To cinch the case, let's go back to perhaps the most storied night in NBA history -- March 2, 1962, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game.
What if the Philadelphia Warriors had removed Wilt at the end of the third quarter, when he had only 69 points? How would that have been a good thing for fans, or for the NBA? The Warriors won 169-147, so it's not like they needed all 100 points.
This isn't about Kobe. This is about a once-in-a-lifetime game, which was robbed from us as much as it was from Kobe. This is about what might have been. We'll never know.
Quote of the Night
-- Andrew Ayres
A source close to several players told ESPN.com that one underreported aspect of Ron Artest's trade request was his dissatisfaction with his contract. Artest makes $6.8 million this season and is under contract for three more seasons at $7.5, $7.4 and $7.4 million -- roughly half of what the top echelon of players typically make. Because the Pacers are over the salary cap, they were unable under collective bargaining rules to offer Artest a renegotiation.
Kobe scored 43 points against Dallas on Dec. 12. The last NBA player to score 105-plus points against one team over two games was David Robinson, who put up 112 against the Clippers in March-April 1994.
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Pete (Philly): A.I. for MVP? How is there any other choice with his numbers? 33ppg, 7.5 ast, 2.2 spg, .447 shooting percentage ,43 mpg, and you KNOW the Sixers are gonna win that division. Elton Brand is a nice story, but he's got pretty good veteran help, Bron Bron has worse numbers in nearly every category and better teammates. C'mon, this shouldn't even be close right now!
Marc Stein: You're right. It's not close at the one-quarter pole. But the MVP is none of those guys you mention. One-fourth of the way in, Dirk Nowitzki has to be the MVP. Dallas hasn't had its full team yet and doesn't know who the No. 2 option will be from night to night. Nowitzki is throwing up flurries of 30-point games and keeping the Mavs in the same sentence with Detroit and San Antonio when no one -- not even the Mavs themselves -- expected to be there.
Mavs forward Josh Howard, right, inflicts a flagrant foul on Kobe Bryant, center, during the third quarter. Bryant attempted 25 free throws, sinking 22.