Updated: Jan. 12, 2006, 4:50 PM ET

Kobe held to 62 points vs. Mavs

You still have a problem with Kobe Bryant hoisting 30-something shots some nights?

What's your stance on 30-point quarters?

The only issue you could have Tuesday night is with the (apparently) joint coach/player decision that Kobe would sit for the entire fourth ... after Bryant rung up a tidy 62 points for Phil Jackson through three.

Not me, though. I actually side with Kobe and the Zenmeister on this one.

After Kobe went for 30 points in the third quarter alone, to put the Los Angeles Lakers up by 34 in an eventual 112-90 trouncing of the Dallas Mavericks, I wouldn't have risked No. 8 getting hurt in a game that was already over. I'd want to take every precaution to keep Kobe healthy in the hope that that this was merely the first time this season he makes a run at 70 or 80.

A select few of us out there -- a group in which I can smugly claim membership because I've written this once or twice already -- applaud Kobe for shooting and shooting and shooting. And not just on the nights he goes for 62. Reason being: Kobe's Lakers aren't exactly teeming with outlets for his passes.

As stated in this cyberspace more than once recently, this is the thinnest, weakest team Phil Jackson has ever coached. As well as the Lakers have played in their 9-3 December, with Kobe taking more than 24 shots only four times this month, you can expect plenty of occasions as the season unfolds where Bryant absolutely has to take 30-odd shots for L.A. to have a chance to win.

Unless, of course, you believe in Smush Parker as a No. 3 option and consider Brian Cook to be a legit starting four-man for a playoff-caliber team.

Right.

To quote my dear friend Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune, a fellow backer of Kobe Unplugged: "Right now, just enjoy the show."

Good advice.

The time to torch Kobe for shooting too many shots is when the Lakers have re-established a core with a real future ... and he's still firing away instead of making teammates better.

This is a time to be grateful for spectacles like Tuesday night's at Staples Center, when an assist total of zero didn't change the fact that Kobe was wicked good. Too good for his own good, really.

How good?

Entering the fourth quarter, with the Lakers safely ahead by 95-61, you could read the scoreboard another way.

Kobe 62, Dallas 61.

It was simply too ridiculous for Phil to put Kobe back in.

I was fortunate enough to be courtside in L.A. on April 24, 1994 when San Antonio's David Robinson savaged the Clippers for 71 points. This, though, was sicker. Slicker, too.

Robinson's eruption came on the last day of the 1993-94 regular season, with a scoring title at stake and against a 27-55 opponent that didn't want to be there. This was Kobe needing only three-quarters of a game to match Tracy McGrady's 62 points for Orlando on March 10, 2004 -- the league's two biggest individual outputs in the past decade-plus since Robinson's.

This was Kobe, knowing he'd be swarmed 5-on-1 after Bryant scored 43 points in Dallas just last week, inflicting offensive destruction in a manner that could only remind you of one other guy.

It's sacrilege to some, I know, but you can consider this another step in Bryant's bid to become the first of the NBA's many Next Jordans to actually come close to matching No. 23.

If not?

At the very least, let's drop the pleas for more passes to Chris Mihm and Laron Profit and admit that your appetite for watching Kobe launch has been restored.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

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Dimes Past: December 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17-18 | 19 | 20


That's So Bogut!
carter
After finishing a nice Toni Kukoc inbound alley-oop, Bucks forward Andrew Bogut got help celebrating his winning shot from Jermaine Jackson, left, Mo Williams and Jiri Welsch. The Bucks beat the Spurs, 109-107, in overtime.


Power Rankings: Feedback Time
det

So do you think that the idea of curse is dead now? The Pistons have been doing pretty well in the No. 1 slot, so I'd say it is.
-- Christian Abbott (Detroit)

You're WAY over-ranking the Heat. It's nice that they got Pat and Shaq back and all, but two of their three wins last week came against Chicago (by three points) and struggling Philly. Give them a higher ranking when they take down Detroit or even sizzling Atlanta later on. Until then, they're not deserving of No. 5.
-- Luis (Phoenix)

Those mighty Clips are still only 5-6 on the road. And they better hurry up, because with every stop Cassell wears out his welcome a little faster. With Minnesota it was only two years. It'll probably be only one year this time.
-- Jon Dement

This is bull. Lakers beat the No. 2 team on the road and slaughtered the No. 6 team on the road, where they hadn't won since 2003. We deserve a higher ranking.
-- Chris Y (Orange County)

See Marc Stein's Power Rankings



NBA Intelligence Report
earl
Allen

Allen Moves Up 3-Point List
"Seattle's Ray Allen moved into third place on the league's all-time list of 3-point shooters, moving ahead of Glen Rice. Allen, whose four 3s gives him 1,562, is trailing only former Sonic Dale Ellis (1,719) and Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller (2,560), both of whom are retired. 'It's great company,' Allen said. 'You are talking about some of the best shooters the league has ever seen.'" -- Tacoma News Tribune

Riley's Return Quiet
"Pat Riley didn't want much of the attention to be focused on him. And he got his wish. When the coach was introduced at the end of the player introductions, there was about the same amount of applause as there normally is at that point. 'I think it's a nice gesture on [Arison's] part,' Riley said. 'I wasn't big on it, but it's OK with me. He's the boss, and I appreciate his attempt to try to do something.' Riley said he didn't have any pregame jitters before his first home game. It probably helped that he coached four games on the road before Tuesday's game." -- Miami Herald

Odom Remains Loyal To Riley
"Lamar Odom, who played for the Heat during the 2003-04 season, said he will always be grateful to Pat Riley because the coach believed in him when others didn't. 'My loyalty to Pat Riley, it goes far beyond basketball,' Odom said. 'He trusted me and he told me how good I can be and how good I can become. He kind of helped my maturity, as far as being a man. So when you talk about him coaching, I've got a lot of respect for him, and it goes way far beyond basketball.'' -- Riverside Press-Enterprise

Brown Wants To Limit LeBron's Time
"Mike Brown is the anti- Paul Silas in most ways except one. Both talked of limiting LeBron James' minutes even as he collected more court time than the ACLU and Mike Tyson combined. Brown distinguishes himself even in that regard, though, by throwing himself so willingly on his sword. 'I look at his minutes after every game,' Brown said Tuesday." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Brand Becoming A Popular Player
"The swarm of media around Elton Brand's locker before the game was predictable. After all Brand grew up in (almost) nearby Peekskill, N.Y. But media awareness about Brand is growing in every NBA city these days, in part because of the great season he's having but also because there is a not-so-subtle push to make him an All-Star. Brand, in his seventh season, is trying not to let the increased attention affect him. He patiently answers every question posed by each wave of reporters that comes by. He is unfailingly polite, never letting on if the question surprises or offends him." -- Los Angeles Times

Williams Gaining Comfort Level
"If anyone has noticed a sudden pep in the step of Hawks rookie Marvin Williams, it's no accident. After spending the first six weeks of his rookie season making the harsh adjustment from the college game to the NBA ranks, Williams said he's finally found a nice rhythm, both on and off the court. He's by no means where he'd like to be, but he's moving in the right direction. 'For me it was just getting adjusted to the level of competition and the lifestyle change,' Williams said." -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Pinky Is Fine, Shooting Stroke Isn't
"Peja Stojakovic's pinky is fine, healed and pain-free in a development that would seem to be a positive one for the Kings small forward. Except that he's not shooting well again. And a healthy hand means one more explanation is off the list, with Stojakovic continuing to search for the stroke that has come and gone so many times this season. 'I've been struggling,' said Stojakovic, who averaged 21.5 points per game before the injury. 'There's nothing I can do about it but keep trying to get better. I feel good about the hand.'" -- Sacramento Bee

Jamison's Shot Is MIA
"Antawn Jamison has fallen into a mentally spun abyss and can't seem to climb out of it. His recent swoon mirrors the troubles of a team in an awful funk. ... Jamison is starting to shoot less, as he becomes less certain of the outcome. His wayward shot has led to a deterioration in other areas, especially in rebounding. Jamison fashioned six double-doubles in a row before he started shooting the ball as if he were Mr. Magoo." -- Washington Times

Read the entire Intelligence Report on ESPN Insider Insider


Should Have Kept Him In
bryant
Bryant

By Royce Webb
ESPN.com

Let's not overthink this. Let's be clear.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson screwed up -- and screwed all of us -- when he took Kobe Bryant out of the game with 12 minutes to play.

Let's look at the facts as they appeared after three quarters ...

Kobe had 62 points and counting, including 30 in the third quarter alone.

He was the best player on the floor (sorry, Dirk).

He was within nine points of the all-time single-game record for the Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. (That's 71, by Elgin Baylor, on Nov. 15, 1960.)

The game was in Hollywood, or close enough ... not only the entertainment capital of the world, but the birthplace of Showtime.

The fans were on their feet, cheering wildly. Even former Laker and sometime Hollywood actor Rick Fox was laughing and cheering, on the night he was being honored.

So ... by all means, get Kobe out of there!

Look, I've read "Sacred Hoops." I know basketball is a team game. I know there is a right way to play. I realize Phil Jackson is the Zen Master.

And I realize there was a slight chance that Kobe could have gotten hurt. Maybe the Mavs would have gotten mad and made sure Kobe felt their wrath, as they did when Josh Howard gave him a hard foul earlier in the third quarter.

But, hey, sometimes you just have to go for it. When a pitcher has a perfect game, you leave him in. When a bowler has a shot at 300, he keeps rolling the ball, no matter what the score is. And when Kobe Bryant has 62 points after three quarters, you have to find out ... Can he be the first Laker to score 75? Can he be the second player in NBA history to score 80?

People go to games and tune in on TV to watch players do what Kobe Bryant did for 36 minutes (33 minutes, actually). They want to see the great plays, the great players, the astounding performances. They want to see something they've never seen before.

The Los Angeles Times reported after the game that Jackson had left it up to Kobe whether he wanted to return "if he so desired," and he had declined: "That's not what we play for. That's not what it's about. It's not to score 70 points. We wanted to win the game, and the game was in the bag. It was in the refrigerator."

As usual, Kobe's words were well chosen. And, as usual, it's hard to take them at face value.

Does anyone think scoring and individual achievement aren't of vital importance to Bryant? Then why did he tell a teammate and a coach he planned to score 50 against the Mavs last night? Why did he have zero assists for the game? Why did he shoot 14 times (counting shots on which he was fouled, which don't count as official shot attempts) in the last five minutes of the third quarter? That's one shot every 21 seconds, for those of you scoring at home, including four 3-point attempts ... with his team up by more than 30 points toward the end of that barrage.

The fact remains, the coach decides who is in the game. Jackson removed Bryant. He left him on the bench. He could have put him back in. And surely no one believes that Kobe isn't even more curious than the rest of us just how many he can score in a game.

To cinch the case, let's go back to perhaps the most storied night in NBA history -- March 2, 1962, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game.

What if the Philadelphia Warriors had removed Wilt at the end of the third quarter, when he had only 69 points? How would that have been a good thing for fans, or for the NBA? The Warriors won 169-147, so it's not like they needed all 100 points.

This isn't about Kobe. This is about a once-in-a-lifetime game, which was robbed from us as much as it was from Kobe. This is about what might have been. We'll never know.



Extreme Behavior
finley

Tuesday's Best
Kobe Bryant, Lakers guard: In three quarters of action, goes for a career-high 62 points (22-25 FT, 18-31 FG). Set a franchise record with 30 points in the third quarter alone, beating his chest upon finishing. The Lakers were blowing out the Mavs entering the fourth, so Kobe sat, and Elgin Baylor's franchise-record 71 points remained the standard.

Zaza

Tuesday's Worst
Zaza Pachulia, Hawks center: A scant three points and paltry two boards from the promising Hawk pivotman? Zsu Zsu from "It's A Wonderful Life" could have plucked more. Course, she'd be riding on Jimmy Stewart's shoulders. And Zaza was facing some dude named Shaq, so we'll curtail our Georgian rant.

Ben

Quote of the Night
"I thought we had the ability to get off to a good start, but I didn't think it would get this gaudy."
-- Pistons coach Flip Saunders, after his team improved to a franchise-best 20-3 with a 93-89 win over the Blazers.

See how all 165 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres



Follow The Money
Artest
Artest

A source close to several players told ESPN.com that one underreported aspect of Ron Artest's trade request was his dissatisfaction with his contract. Artest makes $6.8 million this season and is under contract for three more seasons at $7.5, $7.4 and $7.4 million -- roughly half of what the top echelon of players typically make. Because the Pacers are over the salary cap, they were unable under collective bargaining rules to offer Artest a renegotiation.

See Chris Sheridan's blog Insider



Elias Says

Kobe scored 43 points against Dallas on Dec. 12. The last NBA player to score 105-plus points against one team over two games was David Robinson, who put up 112 against the Clippers in March-April 1994.

Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias Insider



Dirk's The MVP So Far
Nowitzki
Nowitzki

Pete (Philly): A.I. for MVP? How is there any other choice with his numbers? 33ppg, 7.5 ast, 2.2 spg, .447 shooting percentage ,43 mpg, and you KNOW the Sixers are gonna win that division. Elton Brand is a nice story, but he's got pretty good veteran help, Bron Bron has worse numbers in nearly every category and better teammates. C'mon, this shouldn't even be close right now!

Marc Stein: You're right. It's not close at the one-quarter pole. But the MVP is none of those guys you mention. One-fourth of the way in, Dirk Nowitzki has to be the MVP. Dallas hasn't had its full team yet and doesn't know who the No. 2 option will be from night to night. Nowitzki is throwing up flurries of 30-point games and keeping the Mavs in the same sentence with Detroit and San Antonio when no one -- not even the Mavs themselves -- expected to be there.

More from Marc Stein's chat Insider



Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Vince
Mavs forward Josh Howard, right, inflicts a flagrant foul on Kobe Bryant, center, during the third quarter. Bryant attempted 25 free throws, sinking 22.
 

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