Pass The Rock, Kobe

 —  November 16, 2004

I noted it one way the other day — when the Lakers share the ball they look good, when they don’t they don’t.

Eric Neel over at ESPN puts in another way, and lays the blame at the feet of Kobe and his shooting percentage.

He’s taking the lion’s share (and then some) of the shots (19.6 per game) and leading the league in scoring (28.3 ppg). We knew he would. He’s getting to the line more than anyone else in basketball (38 more free-throw attempts than Dirk Nowitzki in the No. 2 spot); and we could figured on that, too, because he’s got the ball a lot, he’s double-teamed a lot, he’s a made guy, and the refs are going to give him his props. But the sickly shooting percentage number is a problem. He’s forcing. He’s giving in to that little demon who sits on his shoulders and tells him he can do everything on his own.

He isn’t using Chucky Atkins (who’s shooting .500 from beyond the arc) enough. He’s forgetting the kind of game Chris Mihm had on opening night. He’s a kid at the beach trying to dig a sand tunnel straight through to China; and the faster he digs, the faster the hole collapses on itself. He’s got to change his approach. He needs to pass on more shots and pass to more teammates. Because what’s happening now isn’t working. What’s happening now has the Lakers 4-4, with wins against Atlanta, New Orleans, Athletes in Action, and a YBA team from West Covina. What’s happening now has them on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

I think, on an intellectual level, Kobe knows this. It’s just that, in the heat of battle, he forgets and takes it on himself. It’s among the changes I expect to see evolve over the course of the season. That or, as Neel said, we’ll be on the outside looking in.