Archives For December 2005

Kobe Suspended

Kurt —  December 30, 2005

Kobe’s retaliation flagrant foul on Mike Miller in the Memphis game has earned him a two game suspension from the NBA League office.

Kobe will not play in either game against the Jazz, Sunday or Tuesday. According to ESPN, the suspension will cost him a little more than I made this year $289,943 ;-)

Well, if you wanted to see what the Lakers would look like without Kobe….

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As a side note, the Press Enterprise is reporting Ronny Turiaf will sign with the Lakers before Jan. 15, the day that non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed. Devin Green, Laron Profit and Von Wafer are the possible cuts.

By the way, I passed along the note in jest but it may be true — Ronny Turaif may return from heart surgery before Carlos Boozer returns from a hamstring injury.

Chicken-or-Egg

Kurt —  December 30, 2005

Rule number one in basketball: the team that shoots better wins.

So it’s no shock that the Lakers shoot better in their wins than their losses across the board. But I broke down the true shooting percentages in wins and losses just to see where the better performances are coming from. (I used true shooting % because it takes in to account three pointers and free throws, it is basically your points per shot attempt, in a percentage form).

When the Lakers lose, Kobe has a true shooting % of 50%, when they win it jumps to 55.6%, an increase of 5.6% (or think of it as him shooting 10% better in wins). By the way, Kobe takes an average of .5 fewer shots per game in wins and averages .5 more assists in wins.

Lamar Odom sees a more dramatic increase — his ts% in losses I 49.5% (close to Kobe’s) but in wins it is an impressive 58.6%, meaning he shoots 15% better in the wins.

Everyone else also makes a healthy jump — the rest of the players shoot a poor 46.4% in losses and a good 54.8% in wins. That is also a 15% increase.

Take from this what you will, but yesterday I mentioned the chicken-or-egg problem of Kobe trusting his teammates, and them being inconsistent in earning that trust. It is everyone around Kobe who has the more dramatic increase in shooting efficiency when the Lakers win.

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Some other random news and notes going into the holiday weekend:

• Is it just me getting older, or do “The LeBrons” ads suck?

• Do you want to be the next John Hollinger? (This is one of my favorite blog posts of the year.)

• Kobe got frustrated at the lack of execution at the end of the Washington game, knocked over a television and yelled at people. That’s got the mainstream media (especially back East) saying Kobe’s back to his Diva ways. A more sane picture of that incident — Kobe was frustrated with himself and everyone else at the end of the game and vented. Kobe and Lamar were angry with each other, but we’ve all been pissed at guys before in the heat of something, then had beers with them 48 hours later and the issue was behind us. Bottom line, this is not uncommon in locker rooms, people get over it, but the media needs drama to sell papers/get ratings. That’s the last mention of this in this blog until it becomes an on-the-court issue.

• As Phil mentioned in the paper today (and Gatinho mention in the comments here yesterday), what Kobe needs to do when he gets frustrated is not start breaking out of the offense and taking everything and everyone on. There are moments for that, but there have been too many of them lately.

• Remember a few days I linked to Mark Cuban’s post about how big a disadvantage it is to be in back-to-backs, well the people over at lowpost.net extended that study out to a few years and found the advantage isn’t quite that big.

• Laker officials are denying the Artest rumor.

• Set up your designated driver or place to sleep on New Year’s Eve now, don’t drink and drive. Just a friendly reminder.

Execute Me

Kurt —  December 29, 2005

Update: The rumor. There seems to be a lot of people looking for it, so here it is: The Lakers would give up Devean George and something (maybe a pick and/or other lesser players) and get in return Ron Artest and Jalen Rose. Toronto is the third team that makes it work. Check out the link above for the details, but know this is still very much a rumor, no matter how much air time it gets on talk radio, and I can think of a number of reasons it falls through (or never was). Now back to the planned post for the day.

End of game execution by the Lakers has become the stone around their neck. If the team could execute in the final minutes of games, the Lakers could have been 2-1 (at least) in the last three, instead it is a three game losing streak.

Last night against Memphis, with just over a minute in regulation and the Lakers in the lead, Lamar Odom rushed a very long two pointer with 12 to go on the shot clock and plenty of room to drive in front of him, later Devean George passed up an open look at a three, and Kobe Bryant kept shooting, and working outside the offense, despite shooting 40.5% on the night. No body could hit two free throws down the stretch. And it wasn’t just on offense, on the Stoudamire three pointer to tie the game, color guy Stu Lantz got on Sasha for going under the double pick the Griz set, but Lamar stood there and did not “show out” on Stoudamire, something he should have done to take away the three — let his man get the layup, that was just two points and the Lakers were up by three (on the final play of regulation Odom and Sasha switched in that situation and it worked). These are fundamental execution problems that have become chronic late in games.

Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times phrased it well today, the Lakers have a chicken-or-the-egg problem — Kobe isn’t showing trust in his teammates all the time, but they are not earning it. They often don’t step up and take the key shots late in games, they give the ball back to Kobe when he is double (or triple) teamed.

Kobe has struggled some in “clutch time” (with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game and neither team ahead by more than 5 points) shooting just 35.8% (eFG%) this season. But the team’s second option, the other guy who can create his own shot, Lamar Odom, is shooting 31.8%. Other key Lakers are shooting over 50% in the clutch — Brian Cook, Smush Parker, Devean George, Luke Walton — but their shots are going to be spot up shots off kick outs from Kobe or Lamar. Unfortunately, they have been hesitant with those shots, often throwing the ball back to Kobe, who is forced to take the awkward shot.

When the Lakers were winning on the road, they were getting good looks through the offense and knocking down their shots. Last night, when Kobe went to the locker room to get his eye worked on, the Laker offense fell apart, scoring one bucket in more than five minutes.

(An off-topic note: Maybe it’s the old hockey player in me, but I loved that Kobe dished out a little payback to Mike Miller, sending a message that this team does not back down. Or at least Kobe doesn’t. Marty McSorley would have been proud.)

I prefer to provide ideas, not just criticism, but this now falls to Phil to fix, to find a way to get guys to make better decisions late, to be efficient, something lacking the last three games. The rest of the team has come to lean on Kobe like a crutch at times, and Phil needs to kick that crutch out and make them walk on their own.

On Tap: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  December 28, 2005

Record: 16-10 (Pythagorean 12-14), 5th seed in the West
Record last 10 games: 6-4
Record Against Lakers this season: 1-1
Offensive Rating: (105.1, 18th in league)
Defensive Rating: (101, 4th in league)

About the Grizzlies: The last time these two hooked up was the final game of the Lakers 5-1 road trip, and LA won handily, 94-79.

You will hear tonight that Memphis gives up the fewest points per game in the league, but they do that in part because they play at the slowest pace in the league (86.1 possessions per game). That’s not to say they are not a good defensive team, they are fourth in the league in efficency. Teams only shoot 45.4% (eFG%) against them, and Memphis is second in the league in creating turnovers, on 18.6% of opponents’ possessions.

Looking at the stats at 82games.com, Memphis is especially good at perimeter defense, the Lakers need to get some points inside tonight.

One thing I hope to see tonight: The Lakers shoot like they did last time these two hooked up — 57.4% as a team. Take Kobe out of the equation and everyone else still shot 52.8%.

The Lakers coming in: Kobe and Phil — and likely the rest of the Lakers — were frustrated with the loss in Washington. Other Lakers missed key shots late, but Kobe took 27 shots while shooting 40.7% while everyone else shot 51.1% for the game. Other guys need to step up and hit key shots late, but Kobe has to get the ball to teammates when they are shooting well. The Laker execution of the offense fell apart in the second half.

Key’s to a Laker win: It’s going to be a slow down, low scoring game, meaning efficiency with possessions will be at a premium. The Lakers need to take care of the ball, not turn it over, and make shots when they get good looks. Also, last time these two played the Lakers did a good job on Gasol (10 points on 4 of 11 shooting) while Mike Miller had a big game (21 points). You’d rather let Miller beat you — the Lakers need to keep Gasol from having a big night. Finally, the Lakers need to keep Eddie Jones and Damon Stoudamire in check, both can get hot and fill it up for a night.

This is a tough test, a tough game for a team trying not to lose three in a row, but it is one they can win. They just need to play at their best again,

Fast Break

Kurt —  December 27, 2005

Fresh stuff tomorrow for the Memphis game, but in the short term check this stuff out.

• Last night the Lakers lost in the second game of a back-to-back, where they got up by 16 then looked sloppy in the second half. Teams tend to struggle in the second game of back-to-backs, and Dallas owner Mark Cuban has the numbers.

For this season, through December 15th, the 2nd game of a back-to-back makes a team 3.5 points worst. In other words, the best teams are still good, but on the 2nd game of back to back, particularly on the road, they become much closer to average. Making them beatable.

It’s far worse for the 4th game in 5 nights. ON those nights, a team is 8 points worse. Again, more on the road. So basically, a team should lose to just about any but the worst teams if they are on the road.

• The Lakers lost the game long before then, but about that last play — I like the idea, the execution sucked. Odom is not a great three-point shooter (33.3%), but Brian Cook is (44% this season), especially if he gets a straight-away shot. The idea of a pick-and-pop style play with Kobe was the right idea, but man it looked like, er, the carcass of out Christmas turkey once all the meat was cut off. Not very appetizing.

• I am the Sun King. Ronny Turaif had nine points and five rebounds in his first game in the CBA. His quotes say he knows he’s not in NBA shape yet, but he’s getting there.

Thanks to Henry at True Hoop for posting the link. (Henry, just between you and me, I voted for you for best NBA blog over at Red Reporter.)

• One thing I learned first hand over Christmas — regular commenter Gatinho likes to hang out in dive bars.