Kobe Bryant is set to hit another significant milestone on Sunday but will it come in a win for the Los Angeles Lakers?
It just might. The former NBA Most Valuable Player, now aged 36, needs just nine points tonight against the injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves to overtake Michael Jordan for third place in the league’s scoring charts, moving above his one-time rival’s mark of 32,292.
Having always gaged himself against MJ, it would give Bryant some satisfaction amid the Lakers wretched 7-16 start to the season which has already made them long shots to make the playoffs.
But on his current pace of 25.4 points per night during his 19th campaign as a pro, it’s hard to see him overhauling either Karl Malone (36,928) or Kareem Abdul Jabbar (38,387) to move any higher on the list.
It’s been a little deflating at times, however, to see Bryant gunning away with no apparent regard to anything other than stats.
The Lakers are notching 102.7 points per game and giving up 110.1, although successive victories have steered them away from the Western Conference basement.
Their sole star is shooing a career-low 38.7% from the field – while his production has dipped to 21.8 points per night over his last six appearances - and his public critiques of his team-mates have jarred with some who’d argue his singular approach is a hindrance rather than a help.
Yet take away Bryant and the Lakers would be woeful indeed. Worse, they’d be an irrelevancy in a city where star quality counts.
Struggling Minnesota will hand him an opportunity to pair victory with achievement with the Timberwolves, priced at 2.25 to come out on top, winning just one of their last eight.
And even though the Lakers haven’t recorded a triumph by more than 10 since November 9, expect Bryant to out-do Jordan with a solo scoring flourish.
Best bet: Go under 201.5 total points in Lakers-Timberwolves at 3.95