Commentary

How Lakers succeeded without Kobe

PER Diem: Feb. 23, 2010

Updated: February 23, 2010, 4:11 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com
LakersAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesPau Gasol averaged 18.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the Lakers' five games without Kobe.

It's easy to forget now, but a few years ago the Lakers were a one-man team. In 2005-06, Kobe Bryant averaged a league-leading 35.4 points per game, the league's second-highest scoring average in the past 40 years, and all that got the Lakers was a 45-37 record and a first-round exit courtesy of Phoenix.

Back then, L.A. depended on Bryant to have any chance to win. He missed two games that season, and the Lakers lost both of them; when he took an on-court DNP in the second half of Game 7 in Phoenix, the Suns outscored the Lakers by 16 points. For that season, opponents outscored the Lakers by 5.2 points per 100 possessions with Bryant off the court.

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