After guarding Kobe Bryant, Tucker says 'Kobe is still Kobe'


PHOENIX — Over the last few days, all eyes have been on Kobe Bryant’s return from his Achilles injury suffered in last year’s playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers guard played in his second game of the year against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night and led the team in scoring with 20 points while cutting down his turnovers from eight on Sunday to just three against the Suns.

Bryant’s scoring did not, however, lead to a win as the Suns defeated the Lakers 114-108 to improve their record to 12-9. As usual, Suns forward and defensive stopper P.J. Tucker had the task of guarding Bryant and his diagnosis of the Laker guard’s abilities was pretty simple.

“Kobe is still Kobe,” Tucker said. “You can not really grade him because he is on a different level than everyone else.”

Bryant gave himself a “B” grade after giving him a “D” following Sunday night’s game against Toronto. Bryant scored his 20 points on 6-for-11 shooting and going a perfect 8-for-8 from the line.

“Guarding him, he is not as quick at making his moves, but he is still an unbelievable shooter that can get to the line,” Tucker said. “I don”t know how healthy he is, but  you still have to give him the utmost respect.”

Tucker’s focus on defending Bryant put an end to his hot offensive streak as he only scored four points on 1-for-5 shooting, but he did lead the team in rebounds by grabbing 11 boards.

The Suns are coming home on a three game winning streak to play the Sacramento Kings on Friday, a team that has beaten the Suns twice this year.

“Those back to back games left a bad taste in our mouth and we played some of our worst games against them this year,” Tucker said.

In fact, starting Friday the Suns are home for three straight games against Sacramento, Golden State and San Antonio. It is noteworthy because they have not had back-to-back games at home since Nov. 8 and 10. The weird schedule quirk has not had too much of a negative effect as the team has gone 7-7 during that stretch.

“We are just a young team and it doesn’t matter too much to us, we just go out and play and it doesn’t matter if we are home or away,” Tucker said.

Tags: Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Phoenix Suns Pj Tucker

  • EBJM

    Watched Dallas-Knicks last night and couldn’t believe how bad Samuel Dalembert is. Vince Carter hit him in stride and all alone towards the rim and instead of the seven-footer slamming it home he awkwardly tried to lay it up and missed.

    $3.7 million for being seven-foot. DeJuan Blair whom the Spurs didn’t want anymore has taken his spot in the starting line-up. Mavericks have been trying everybody at center the past few years.

    Makes you appreciate Plumlee and maybe a little insight as to why the Suns were willing to take Alex Len.

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, You mean Dallas and Golden State Warriors don’t you? I too saw parts of that game and saw Dalembert choke the layup, which as you outlined, should have been dunked. That was a great finish to the game wasn’t it with Curry hitting the game winner over Shawn Marion?

  • BCrayZ

    @EBJM – This is only partially true.

    That is because the Mavs never even played the Knicks.

    They barely lost to the Dubs. With that win, the Dubs moved up in the standings by 1/2 game.

    Even so, they remain outside of the playoffs (9th seed) & behind our Suns, at this time. Suns, however, picked up the half game on the Mavs, who lost. That moves our Suns up to the 7th seed in the competitive West. Suns not only have their highest winning streak of the year, they ALSO have the next best current win streak (3 to the Thunder’s 4) in the entire NBA, at this time. Utah Jazz are looking much better these days. Next game up for them is at the Nuggets, their long time division & regional rival & if they somehow manage to win, the Suns would own the Denver tie breaker & be only half of a game away from the 6th seed. Best ultimate goal? Suns have only one more loss than the Clippers, along with a better conference record tie breaker. Should the Suns pass the Clippers, they would be positioned at the #4 seed. This seed would automatically open the playoffs at home. This season still has a long way to go, but our success is being driven by Gogi (Dragic) & Chinga (Frye.) They, as former members of “that killer bench unit” (from 2010), know how to win & they would be ecstatic to see their former bench unit mate LB (Barbosa) be signed with the remaining open roster spot. This would give our Suns a huge shot in the arm for this year’s playoff push. Make it so McD.

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • Scott

    For those who like to read the occasional article about former Suns …

    The Beautiful and Tragic Amare Stoudemire
    http://knickerblogger.net/next-day-notes-the-beautiful-and-tragic-amare-stoudemire/

    Luis Scola: The Bench Savior from Argentina
    http://www.eightpointsnineseconds.com/2013/12/luis-scola-the-bench-savior-from-argentina/

  • EBJM

    I watched Knicks-Bulls then Dallas-Warriors. Yeah Forever, and I thought the Bulls were going to steal the game from the Knicks too.

    BCrayZ the bigger move was the Wolves moving up, they are one and a half games away from Phoenix getting the #14th pick and having four 1st rd picks this summer. Phoenix moving up dropped their own pick to #22. Washington’s #17th and the Pacers #30th if the season ended today.

    Phoenix is ranked #10 in the NBA power rankings behind Dallas and Denver. Who would have ever thought Phoenix would be a top ten team after 20 games?

  • EBJM

    All-Star balloting is a joke. (1) Kobe (4) Jeremy Lin (8) Ricky Rubio (9) Steve Nash.

    Dragic and Bledsoe clearing have earned top ten status over those four, three of whom have missed most of the first 20 games this season.

  • BCrayZ

    @EBJM -This is true!

    Suns are 7-3 in their last ten. Only 4-6 for the T-Wolves.

    What is not true is what I carelessly assumed to be true. Suns have a better in-conference record than all of the other relevant playoff rivals for 9th through 5rh seed. Clippers have a much better record, however, vs. the West. Nets did us a favor in last night’s game. They thoroughly destroyed the Clippers who appear to be getting weary from the road trip. Only 2 assists for Chris Paul. They play the Wizards tomorrow night, having used most of their adrenalin & energy in beating Doc Rivers’ old team to begin the road trip. Wiz have been playing some good ball. Clippers are only 5-6 vs. the East. This last road game of the trip is a game the Clip could easily lose. With last night’s loss, the Clip still have more wins than the Suns but are tied with nine losses with our Suns. With the possibility of a Suns revenge win tonight vs. the “new” Kings after two days rest at home, the Suns would then have one less loss than the current 4th seed Clip should the Wiz beat them. Suns DO have a better record (think tie breaker) than the Rockets, Nuggets, Mavs, T-Wolves, Pelicans & the Dubs vs. other teams in the West. More importantly, the first tie breaker is head to head play. Here, with a win in Sunday’s home game vs. the struggling Dubs without Iggy, Suns would own thus far the head to head tie breaker vs. each of its rivals, except the Clip, Mavs & T-Wolves, only because they have as yet to play them. Very importantly, I’m the only one talking about this. Even that other Suns blog has been silent about this. This way, Suns players can stay hungry to extend their winning streak without yet having a target on their back. Sign the Brazilian Blur. Then, we will have most of “that killer bench unit” (from 2010 deep playoff run) back on our Suns. Make it so Ryan.

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit”. Let’s go SUNS!!!!