What Vegas says: Lakers -9, Pittsburgh -4
Last 10: 0-10
Injury Update: Forward Lamar Odom said he would not play tonight against Charlotte because of slightly torn rib cartilage and a minor case of whiplash. (Insert watching Kobe go by joke here) Sasha or D George are likely candidates to replace him in the starting line up.
Young and Injured: Playing without injured leading scorer Gerald Wallace and leading rebounder Emeka Okafor, Charlotte has dropped a franchise-record 13 in a row. Ex-Laker Kareem Rush has just returned from a finger injury that caused him to miss 13 games. Rookie Sean May is out indefinitely after recently having knee surgery. Melvin Ely will be back in the starting line up.
Since the Big Night: Bryant has shot 34-91 over the last 4 with a shooting percentage of 37%. (If anyone knows how to calculate his TS% and has the time, help a brother out.)Have the defenses “learned” Bryant? Has he become predictable beyond the fact that we know he is going to shoot the ball? Doubtful, but obviously the backlash of scoring 81 points is that defenses will want to make sure, if possible, that they are not the next victims.
More familiar faces: Ex-Laker Jumaine Jones will start and be among the few who might be able to guard Bryant decently. Bernard Robinson should also get an opportunity after having done a serviceable job in their previous game in L.A. Kobe was 9 for 30, but Robinson commited the foul that sent him to the line to ice the game.
Desperate means dangerous: In their last meeting, the Lakers came out sluggish and almost handed the game over. Chris Mihm scored 21 and Sasha Vujacic scored a season high 12 points. You may remember it as the game that had the Staples Center crowd giving courtside seated Shaquille â€œIt’s not easy to be meâ€ Oâ€™Neal a warm round of applause accompanied by his familiar â€œSupermanâ€ theme song.
The Bard of Chick Hearn Court: Check out excerpts from the Kobe penned article in Dime Magazine:
â€œThe only thing I truly worry about is that my drive and my will are sometimes too much for my teammates to handle. Do I expect too much from them? How can I elevate them to play with my same passion every night?”
More for the bulletin board from Charlotte.com :
â€œLos Angeles has a different dynamic. Get rid of every teammate who will compete with Kobe for shots and headlines, and get Bryant a scoring championship. â€
A measure of respect or popularity?: Kobe Bryant was selected to the NBA All-Star game for an eighth consecutive season, receiving 450,000 more votes than he did last season.
Bynum inspired by snub?: Andrew Bynum will not be playing in the rookie game for now. The participants were selected by the NBAâ€™s assistant coaches and the results were announced the day of the Knick game. Look for the Man-cub to get some run tonight if this one gets out of hand.
Micahel Jordan versus the Dallas Cowboys: Who doesn’t love the absurdity of Super Bowl prop bets? Oddly enough, the roots of these goofy bets can be traced to Jordan. “In the ’93 Super Bowl, The Cowboys were expected to score around 29 points, just about Jordan’s per game average, and you could take one against the other on that Sunday.”