After an extended break to nurse some injuries, Kobe Bryant returned to the lineup last night to help the Lakers beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 99-98.
The Lakers steamrolled during Bryant's absence, winning all but one game comfortably. Their one loss came to the Boston Celtics and highlighted Kobe's important roll to the team. In the 4th quarter the Lakers lead against the Celtics started to vanish as the defensive intensity magnified. Each possession, the Lakers struggled with getting their offense started. They throw it into Pau, who would kick it out to Farmar, who would sling it over to Lamar, who would dribble, dribble, dribble, before passing it back to Farmar. Most possessions ended with Farmar or Shannon jacking up a tough, long distance jump shot with the shot clock winding down. Without Kobe the Lakers had no one who could get their own shot.
Fast forward to last night, with Kobe returning to the team. While he started off a little rusty, he finished strong, hitting a three late in the game to knot up the score, and then a last second three to put the Lakers up by one with only a few ticks left on the clock. (The Grizzlies missed the ensuing shot and the Lakers walked off with a 1 point victory.)