Flashes of old Kobe appear in second game back

LOS ANGELES – If there’s anything to be learned from the Lakers’ 114-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, it’s that Kobe Time is going to take some time.
 
Back on the floor for Game No. 2 in his return from a torn Achilles, the instinct to take over was there.

After scoring nine points in his season debut on Sunday, he had 10 by the end of the first half on Tuesday.

He re-entered Tuesday’s contest with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter and the Lakers trailing by six points. In the past that would have been considered Kobe Time. He showed the look of it to start. After coming off of the bench midway through the fourth quarter, he took a field goal in each of the Lakers’ first three trips down the floor.

He was aggressive, attacking the rim to earn and make two foul shots. He also showed the shimmy – inside the paint, faking the spin, and knocking down a fall-away jumper.

Vintage Kobe.

Later in the quarter, in a rare moment on this night, he took control by bringing the ball up the floor, in the process yelling at Nick Young to “get out” to the other side of the floor so that he could back down a defender on the block. He worked there effectively, finding Pau Gasol underneath (Gasol drew a foul and knocked down both free throws).

While there were flashes of the old Kobe, there were flashes of the new Kobe as well.

He entered Tuesday night, as he put it, wanting to stay away from the top of the floor.
He operated from the low post a considerable amount more than he did in his season debut on Sunday night.

Consistent with Sunday, he set a lot of screens. Perhaps more screens than he’d set before in any two-game stretch of his career.

“It’s part of the evolution,” Bryant said.

It’s also part of the transformation as Bryant gets used to playing with this group of teammates and them playing with him.

His post-ups, throughout his career, have proven to be beneficial.

“(Bryant posting up) gets guys open really because they come double team (Kobe) and everybody has to be ready to shoot the ball, drive the ball, make the extra pass, and everything like that,” said Xavier Henry.

With this group of players, however, Bryant on the block is also a huge adjustment.

“That’s one of the things that’s new for us, so we have to learn our spacing when he is doing that and that’’s one of the learning curves that we’ll have to adjust to,” said Steve Blake.

On Tuesday night, his teammates described him as less passive. He finished with a team-high 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He’s still, however, trying to get his legs underneath him and the weight to fall off of him.

Bryant says from tip-off Sunday to the end of his season debut, he lost five pounds going from 225 pounds to 220. 

“I felt a lot better (on Tuesday)” Bryant said. “It’s crazy I dropped some weight already and I can tell the difference in the way I move. I still have some more pounds to go, but I felt a lot better.”