Kobe Bryant seemed to turn back the clock on Thursday night with the superstar shooting guard putting on a show in front of the Staples Center crowd. The Los Angeles Lakers may have ultimately lost to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, but Bryant’s performance was impressive to say the least.
In only 32 minutes on the floor, Bryant dished out a career-high 17 assists against LeBron’s squad. Kobe was on his game from the tipoff until the buzzer sounded in the fourth quarter adding 19 points and five rebounds to his stat line.
After the game, Bryant talked about continuing to play at an elite level. The five-time NBA champion admitted that if he can’t do that, he’ll call it a career, via ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
Kobe on playing at elite level: "If I can’t do that, I’ll call it quits. I’m not going to have you guys see me out there looking like s**t."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) January 16, 2015
Over the past few weeks, Bryant has struggled to get back to his elite form. The superstar may have gotten off to a quick start to the season by playing at a high level offensively, but his shooting percentage has suffered as well as the involvement of his teammates.
Ultimately, Bryant playing the large amount of minutes on a nightly basis turned out to be too much for his 36-year-old body to handle. Head coach Byron Scott admitted to exhausting his star and that a minute restriction needed to be enforced.
The first couple of games with the minute restriction and the needed rest didn’t appear to make much of a difference, but this performance against the Cavs may have shown the new Kobe. Bryant might be able to continue playing at an elite level with this pass-first mentality and the added rest to keep him fresh.
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