The NBA: Kobe Still Can

Kobe Bryant's 48 points is the highest point
total so far for 2011-2012.
(image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

He’s all of 33 years old and he has suffered numerous injuries. Right now, in fact, he shouldn’t be playing. But he is. And how! Some people still see him as a defiant, at times indirectly arrogant, upstart Jordan wannabe, but a quick look at what he’s accomplished puts him far ahead of similarly-labeled “Jordan clones” (ahem LeBron). And the 48 points he dropped on the Suns? Vintage Kobe. The highest so far this season. And given how short the season is, it stands a good chance of being the highest come the playoffs. Kobe is currently averaging 29.5ppg, 5.7rpg, 5.8apg, and exactly 1spg. After a dreadful start, his FG% has seemingly balanced out, though his 3-point sniping is an awful 18.8% only. If he sustains these stats, his scoring clip will be the highest since the 2006-2007 season, his rebounding will be the best since the 2007-2008 campaign, and his assists rate will be third-best of his career. Great numbers for a relatively old guy, right? Admittedly, I’ve never really liked Kobe. However, there’s that rustic vibe about him right now that gives me the impression he should be a relic, but because he’s playing so well, he shouldn’t be treated like one. It’s quite amazing that many of the guys who were supposed to “be like him” are nowhere near him, at least not anymore – the Corey Maggettes, the Vince Carters, the Tracy McGradys. They can no longer carry teams and will their clubs to victories with vicious consistency. But Kobe? He still can.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

HOU over CHA, 82-70 – Cats lose fourth straight as Kyle Lowry returns for the Rockets.
PHI over SAC, 112-85 – Sixers still at it with sixth straight win, but it came at a cost as Spencer Hawes got injured.
WAS over TOR, 93-78 – Wizards finally break through with Rashard Lewis scoring 15 off the bench.
DAL over DET, 100-86 – Mavs finally get to .500 and move half a game ahead of Phoenix.
CHI over MIN, 111-100 – D-Rose sizzled for 31 points and 11 dimes with the Bulls moving half a game ahead of Miami for the East’s top seat.
MIL over SAS, 106-103 – Stephen Jackson exploded for 34 points as the Bucks remain unbeaten at home.
OKC over MEM, 100-95 – Westbrook’s 30 markers leads the Thunder to a tie for the league’s best record with Chicago.
UTA over CLE, 113-105 – Al Jefferson has another big game with 30 and 12 as the Jazz win their fifth in a row.
POR over LAC, 105-97 – Clips remain inconsistent against the top teams as the Blazers bounce them at home.
LAL over PHX, 99-83 – The Suns can never beat LA when Kobe scores 48.
GSW over MIA, 111-106 – Woohoo! Nate Robinson is the man! Dorell Wright came up big in the OT, too!

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 48
Stephen Jackson (MIL) – 34
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 34

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
David Lee (GSW) & Marc Gasol (MEM) – 14
Kevin Love (MIN) & Kendrick Perkins (OKC) – 13

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 12
Derrick Rose (CHI) & Brandon Jennings (MIL) – 11

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
David West (IND) & Jan Vesely (WAS) – 5
A LOT with 4

David West has been a good, stabilizing
presence for the young Pacers.
(image by Elsa/Getty Images)

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Jordan Hill (HOU) – 5
Marc Gasol (MEM) – 4
A LOT with 3

Jordan Hill has had some highlights this season for
the unpredictable Rockets.
(image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Dorell Wright (GSW) – 6
Derrick Rose (CHI), Carlos Delfino (MIL) & Brandon Knight (DET) – 4

Dorell Wright (R) and Nate Robinson (M) celebrate
as the Warriors hand the Heat only their 2nd loss this season.
(image by the AP)

Jan. 10, 2012 First Five
C – Al Jefferson (UTA) – 30pts, 12rebs, 3asts, 2blks
F – LeBron James (MIA) – 26pts, 11rebs, 7asts, 2stls
F – Stephen Jackson (MIL) – 34pts, 8asts, 3 triples, 1reb
G – Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 48pts, 5rebs, 3asts, 3stls
G – Derrick Rose (CHI) – 31pts, 11asts, 4 triples, 3rebs, 2blks, 1stl

Honorable Mention:
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 34pts, 6rebs, 4stls, 2asts, 1blk
Tim Duncan (SAS) – 20pts, 8rebs, 7asts, 3blks, 1ast
Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 30pts, 6rebs, 4asts, 1blk

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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