Paul Millsap watched until he couldn’t take any more. Circumstances and Kobe Bryant have made the Jazz and their supporters fans of whatever team the Los Angeles Lakers are playing.
On Wednesday, it was Portland. It was Portland by 8 at halftime. Then it was Bryant once again taking over in the second half, scoring 47 points and never leaving the game in the second of a back-to-back. The Lakers (42-37) won, 113-106.
"Kind of figured something like that was going to happen," Millsap said.
"I saw some of it," Tyrone Corbin said of Wednesday’s Laker win. His voice fell off like the slide of a blues trombone.
Waiting for the Lakers to lose has been an exhilarating, debilitating, emotional affair. Bryant has played through injuries to keep the Lakers in playoff position. However, the Lakers have a far more daunting schedule — Golden State, San Antonio and Houston at home — than do the Jazz.
Bryant is the variable. Or is he is the constant?
The 34-year-old has played more than 40 minutes in six straight games. In each of those games, his scoring output has increased, building up to Wednesday’s 47-point outburst.
"If you like basketball and you like watching guys compete at a high level," Corbin said, "you gotta admire what the guy’s doing. ... It’s amazing that he is as competitive and as effective as he is at this age, the stage of his game. Good for him. The guy, like or dislike, whatever about him, the guy’s a true competitor and he competes at another level."
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Love the respect for what Kobe's doing despite the dire & rival circumstances.