New Kobe just as dangerous

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Having survived and overcome the likes of big men Elton Brand and Dwight Howard the past few days, the Raptors now turn their focus to one of the best players in the NBA in the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant.

But it's no longer the Bryant of the 81 points that scares the Raptors. That is the old Kobe. The new Kobe no longer is a one-man scoring machine, at least not in the opinion of Raptors forward Morris Peterson.

"Kobe has shown a lot of growth and maturity," Peterson said yesterday following practice. "He has become a true leader. He's doing a lot of great things. You know he could get 40 a night if he wanted to. You look at what Michael Jordan did. He had to sacrifice some of his scoring to allow his teammates more (shots) and help that team win. That's what (Kobe) has been doing and as a result they're winning more games and they've been doing a lot of great things."

That's not to suggest that Peterson views Bryant as any less of a threat however.

"Kobe is so dangerous because he can break you down off the dribble," Peterson said.

"He can shoot the fade-away. There is not a shot he won't take or a shot that he feels like he can't make. Having a guy like him with the green light and that confidence is tough. It's going to be more of a team effort with him. One guy is not going to stop him. It's going to be the amount of help we have when he drives past that first guy that determines how much success we are going to have."

FOURTH-QUARTER MO

He's no longer a starter, but whatever status Peterson may have lost at the beginning of the game, he more than makes up for in the fourth quarter.

Peterson said there were just too many times last season when close games went the other way. That's not happening as much this year and Peterson's fourth-quarter contributions have had a lot to do with it. Whether it's hitting a three from the corner to extend a lead or hustling back to record a steal or battling for a tough rebound, Peterson has made himself a presence in the latter stages of Raptors games.

"I want to win," Peterson said explaining his fourth-quarter success lately. "It's playing with a sense of urgency. The time I get out there on the floor, I want to be at my best. I think me coming off the bench and being able to see what we need whether it's an energy burst or something like that, it helps me focus. I think it's an advantage for me."


Videos

Photos