How much easier is the game for the Lakers when Kobe Bryant can shoot straight?
This 96-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night offered an answer.
After Bryant’s poor outing in defeat in Utah on Saturday night, he bounced back with 42 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the field. He was recovered from his stomach virus and was again on target with his jumper after switching to a different splint — this one all plastic instead of metal at the base — to protect his fractured right index finger.
The Lakers trailed, 14-4, after two opening misses and back-to-back turnovers by Bryant. Then Bryant scored 10 consecutive Lakers points, cutting the Chicago lead to 18-14. After an Andrew Bynum layup, Bryant resumed his shooting show. He hit shots from 21, 18, 17, 18 and 19 feet in succession.
After Bryant’s sixth consecutive shot dropped through the net, the smile didn’t leave Phil Jackson’s face for a solid 30 seconds he was so delighted.