What’s better, one guy scoring 39 points or another scoring 20 and collecting 10 assists?
Those were the numbers in the Lakers’ first playoff game Sunday, when Kobe Bryant’s 39 weren’t enough in a 95-87 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Steve Nash, the two-time MVP of the NBA, showed why his combination of scoring and passing leads to victories. With teammates involved in the scoring the defense can’t focus on stopping one player.
By contrast, Bryant again displayed his remarkable scoring talent. But it’s hard for anyone to keep that up long enough to produce a series win or in this case not even an opening game win.
At halftime Bryant had 28 points and no assists even though Coach Phil Jackson had expressed the wish that the NBA’s individual scoring champion would involve his teammates more in the playoffs.
Bryant scored only 11 more points and shot 1-for-10 in the fourth quarter.
The Suns finished second in the Western Conference during the regular season and the Lakers finished seventh. The Lakers have not won a playoff series since they traded center Shaquille O’Neal three years ago. When O’Neal teamed with Bryant, making the Lakers dominant both inside and outside, they won three championships and reached the playoff finals another time in a five-year span.