The black mamba is one of the most venomous snakes in the world. It has no natural predator and when cornered will strike repeatedly.
Last night, the New Orleans Hornets found themselves in the unenviable position standing over a battered and bruised Black Mamba protecting his legacy.
After getting throttled by the Thunder, the Lakers trailed by 18 heading into the final period, and were watching their playoff hopes wriggle away. Naturally, instead of cowering and calling it a night, Kobe Bryant embraced his natural instinct and lashed out at the Hornets.
Over the final 6:47, the Lakers outscored the Hornets 20-0 and Bryant led the comeback with 42 points and 12 assists. Remarkably enough, this may rank ahead of the Lakers improbable rally against the Bobcats in terms of degree of difficulty.
However, despite the win, Magic Johnson was not impressed.
Laker Nation: If the defense doesn't improve, even if the @lakers make the playoffs they could be making a 1st round exit.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 7, 2013
Laker Nation: Despite the win the @lakers defense has to improve.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 7, 2013
Laker Nation: Can you believe these @lakers gave up 67pts in the first half to the New Orleans Hornets?— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 7, 2013
Jerry West disagrees and chimed in with his opinion of the Lakers.
"The Lakers are playing better now, especially defensively," West told the website SportsOnEarth.com on Sunday. "I think they'll make the playoffs. I think the worst is behind them." Injuries have been an issue for the Lakers all season but West noted that it's not easy to meld stars together as a cohesive unit. "What people don't understand is the enormous adjustment you have to make as a player in those situations," West said. "I was a scorer. Elgin [Baylor] was a scorer and Wilt [Chamberlain], even then, liked the ball. We all had to put everything else aside."
Despite the Lakers overall defensive struggles, Dwight Howard rebounded from going Blankman against the Thunder by recording four swats, including a game-saving rejection of Robin Lopez at the rim.
The Lakers are a house divided. Jeannie and Jim may wrestle over ownership of the franchise while The Logo and Magic can't come to a consensus on the Lakers' viability as a championship contender. Ultimately, there is one thing they all agree on. Kobe will unite them all. Championship or not, this is one of the greatest individual seasons by a past-his-prime, mid-30s player in NBA history.