The Lakers got a much needed win on national television yesterday as Kobe went off, especially in the fourth quarter, to hold off the Dallas Mavericks and maintain their faint playoff hopes. The win was especially sweet for Kobe on the heels of Mark Cuban’s comments that the Lakers should amnesty him following the season. Not exactly the fondest farewell for a five-time NBA Champ, MVP and perhaps eventual leading scorer in the history of the NBA…
But perhaps Cuban has a shred of truth to his comments. No, the Lakers shouldn’t discard Kobe like refuse on the highway, but it is hard to deny the team has a better long-term outlook with Dwight Howard than Kobe, if for no other reason than the huge age discrepancy. Kobe is almost 35, but the odometer has been run hard in his 17 seasons, post-seasons, international play, etc. How much longer can he hold up like this?? And perhaps the better question, can you have Kobe on the roster when the time comes for him to defer to the next superstar. Timmy Duncan has done it gracefully with Tony Parker. D-Wade has done so with aplomb, deferring to Lebron James. Can Kobe??
If yesterday’s shot-taking bonanza (and the last seventeen years, really) are any indication, I’d say no.
Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets -7
Kobe better has some defense to go with that offense tonight, as the Lakers battle a quick turnaround and take on the best home team in the NBA. Denver is a staggering 23-3 at home, and have won most of those games with room to spare. They have covered in four of their last five home games and in seven of ten overall. Even with the knowledge that they are devastatingly tough to beat at home, bettors still tend to flock to the other team; usually the sexier name with more star power. I am reluctant to make that mistake tonight.
The Lakers are an old team nursing injuries and age regularly. Turning around on zero days rest to face the best home team in the NBA is a bad recipe, and I don’t see it going well tonight. Kobe lit up the scoreboard yesterday, but let’s be honest – he took some terrible shots against Dallas, they just happened to find the bottom of the net. Tonight, he will face a much more athletic team pushing tempo at high altitude.
Very few teams have made that work this season. I’m not betting the Lakers will be the ones to break that trend. Give me Denver beating a tired Laker team with ease.
Free Pick: Denver Nuggets -7