Even with everything around him self-destructing, the Lakers could usually rely on one certain player.
He willed his team to win games it otherwise wouldn’t have won. Bryant’s fiery intensity may have frustrated some players, notably Dwight Howard, but it ensured they kept a sharp edge as they scrapped for playoff contention. Even with Father Time knocking on the door, Bryant threw a few good jabs at it in the form of endless dunks, jumpers and passes.
That’s why it’s hardly surprising that Bryant was named to the All-NBA’s First Team for the 11th time in his career and eighth consecutive season, joining the likes of Miami’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, and the Clippers’ Chris Paul. By averaging 27.9 points on 46.3 percent shooting and six assists in his 17th NBA season, Bryant ties Karl Malone for the most All-NBA First team selections. Bryant had previously been tired with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Bob Cousy, Michael Jordan, Bob Pettit and Jerry West.
Meanwhile, Howard earned All-NBA Third team honors along with Golden State’s David Lee, Indiana’s Paul George, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Houston’s James Harden. Howard averaged 17.1 points and a league-leading 12.1 rebounds. But he likely didn’t make what would’ve been his sixth All-NBA First Team appearance because those numbers reflected his lowest since the 2006-07 season. Some of the causes include injuries (surgically repaired back, partially torn labrum in right shoulder), role (playing second fiddle to Bryant and not receiving as many post touches) and not consistently running pick-and-rolls.
Meanwhile, the All-NBA Second team selections went to New York’s Carmelo Anthony, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org