Prior to Wednesday evening, Kevin Durant had just edged Kobe Bryant in the scoring title race by about 0.1 points per game. Then, Wednesday evening, Durant scored another 32 points in a losing effort to the Denver Nuggets to end his season.
According to ESPN, Kobe Bryant has to score 38 points to beat Kevin Durant for the scoring title. Kobe Bryant has the luxury of playing after Durant and knowing exactly how much he needs to score. For anybody else, the additional pressure would be insurmountable, but that’s why Kobe Bryant isn’t just anybody else.
Kobe, should he play, will be gearing up against division rival Sacramento. While all around improved, the Kings are still very weak and exposed on the defensive side of the ball (Read this article). Kobe should be able to exploit the Kings’ defense, or lack thereof.
The Lakers need this. Read that again. The Lakers need this, more so than Kobe does himself. Kobe has proven himself to be a great scorer over and over again. We don’t need one scoring title to solidify that. However, this Lakers team needs a shot of adrenaline and Kobe winning the scoring title could be just the jolt they need.
Despite holding onto the third seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers carry with them into the playoffs, a sense of uncertainty. Can they still hang? Sure, they can still hang, but hanging is not Los Angeles Lakers basketball. They are all about winning championships. There is still the notion that the team has not bought into Coach Mike Brown. Such is apparent when reading players’ body language in the huddles and even during their play. Add to that the suspension received by Metta World Peace for his blatant elbow to Oklahoma City’s James Harden and you have a broken team. The Lakers need something that will give them back their winning edge and some momentum heading into the postseason. Kobe, in his 16th season, bringing home the NBA Scoring Title would give the team greater confidence heading into their first postseason series. It can be argued that Kobe doesn’t want or need the scoring title, but Kobe does whatever is necessary for the team to win. Winning this title may be the first step to getting back to the NBA title. I expect a big game from the Black Mamba, even if it is at the expense of my beloved Kings.
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