I’m going to tell Andrew he needs to play with a sense of urgency, a sense of desperation,” “He’s got to put himself at a fever pitch and elevate his game. ”I’m going to tell him the truth.”
Andrew Bynum’s spiritless play has Kobe Bryant concerned. (AP) Bynum’s fortunate that Bryant didn’t see the smile on his face as he left the showers and entered the losing locker room. He would’ve exploded. This is the immaturity of Bynum, the attitude that inspired him to mock the Denver Nuggets for being an easy out when the Lakers had them down 3-1. His arrogance, his indifference, has cost the Lakers.
Bryant cornered Pau Gasol in a private moment before boarding the bus and told him, too: Enough of the drifting, enough of the timidity, enough of the entitlement. Bleeping play, man. These Denver Nuggets are fearless and rugged and believing suddenly they can make this comeback complete on Saturday night in Staples Center. Bryant needed Gasol and Bynum on Thursday, needed them to be champions at the end of a day.
The Lakers never expected to see Metta World Peace in this series – never mind expected to need him. Yet things have become so troubling for the Lakers – so perplexing with a 3-1 series lead spiraling into a Game 7 – that Bryant has gone far beyond forgiving World Peace for that foolish seven-game suspension. He’s missing him.
“I expect him to come out and play with the tenacity that he’s known for,” Bryant said. “He’s the one guy that I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with a sense of urgency. And play with no fear. So, I’m looking forward to having him by my side again.”
Bryant balanced his anger with the back-to-back no-shows with some historical perspective. “We’ve been through this before,” he said. “We went seven games with Houston when won the title in 2009, and we went the full five games with Sacramento when we won the title in 2000. I mean, against Houston, we got blown out in Game 6 and had to come home for Game 7. In that series, we struggled with inconsistency, with a lack of effort.
“So, I’ve seen this before.”
In his mind, Bryant could still see a jagged journey to a championship, but that vision is so bleary now. This time, Bynum is no teenager and Gasol is no twentysomething still finding his way. They ought to know better, and yet they’ve let the Nuggets reshape the momentum of this series. Denver coach George Karl has been masterful in the way he’s reengaged these Nuggets, the way he’s sold a plan of victory to his players.