Archives For January 2006

A game like last night’s makes me wish that Jim Murray, legendary Times columnists, was still alive to immortalize it with his brilliant ability to capture a moment.

The above title is how Jim described Elgin Baylor in his playing days and seems more than apropos for last night’s stupefying performance.

Runners, floaters, threes, fade-aways, dunks, free throws… Was it the Raptor defense? It was if you’re talking about guys named Odom, Parker, George, and Vujacic.

Zone defense: As in, “Kobe’s in a zone, where’s the defense?”

Use the Force: I’ve pondered keeping track of how may times Kobe “forced” shots in a game. I’ve always thought it’s not how much he shoots, it’s how he shoots, i.e. within the offense. That all quickly flew out the window. What exactly is a forced shot on a night like last night?

A little insight: On Wilt’s big night, it is rumored that the promoter for the game in Hershey wanted Wilt, with the collusion/cooperation of his teammates, to try to get as many points as possible.

His 78 point game was a triple overtime affair.

David Thompson’s 73 came as he was locked in a last night of the season scoring battle with George Gervin.

David Robinson had 9 guys (your Los Angeles Clippers) helping him eclipse 70, so he could overtake a young Shaquille O’Neal on the final night of the season for the scoring crown.

None of these things can be said about Kobe’s Herculian feat. No premeditation. No help from the other team. No scoring title on the line. No sideshow atmosphere of a game played in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Just willing his listless team to a W.

I’m sure Murray and Chick were sitting in the Big Forum Club in the Sky, sharing a smile and a chuckle, spouting desriptions and insights we all wish we were still privy to.

It will resonate in your head for a long time to come. 81 points.


Gatinho —  January 23, 2006

Still at the in-laws on vacation — I can’t beleive I missed this game (not on in Vegas).

I just caught the ESPN News highlights. I looked at the box score, Kobe had a true shooting percentage of 74% tonight (the league average is 53%) and it looks like he couldn’t miss. Those of you that saw the game let me know, was the Raptor defense part of this, or wouldn’t it have mattered? Kobe was also +23. I also have the rest of the Lakers outside of Kobe shooting just 36.9%? Were they off, was this a case of Kobe needing to take over, because they were down for a while.

Fill me in, tell me what you saw (Gatinho, who is doing a great job filling in as guest blogger, may have a more informed post than this up before then). I’ll be back with a post on Tuesday and a mid-season report card for the team later in the week.


Don’t Mess with Tex

Gatinho —  January 21, 2006

While Kurt’s in Las Vegas, and yet not in Las Vegas, he’s letting me, Gatinho, take another swipe at this …

Last night’s game: Tired legs, bad shot selction, porous defense, residual negativity from the Sac loss, let’s just take our lessons from these two games and move on. This loss was more expected, but it makes the unexpected Sac loss that much more of a gut punch. Let’s continue on to the Tex Winter worship.

The Art of The Triangle: Both Mike Bresnahan of The Times and Ross Siler of The Daily News grabbed the originator of the Overload-offense and got him to offer up a “State of the Lakers” address. His comments on Lamar Odom are somewhat surprising.

“But [Odom] hasn’t learned to play a team concept, hasn’t learned to play off the ball the way he needs to in this offense. He’s not reading that consistently. I’m sure he will. I’ve seen a lot of improvement already.”

“He’s got to be more consistent. He’s got to become more of a factor. He should never be satisfied with five or six points.”

His comments on Kobe contain no new revelations except for the fact that, being an offensive guru, he comments on Kobe’s defense:

“He can give the ball up more, hit the first man that’s open a little more, play without the ball a little more,” Winter said. “Defensively, he needs to be fundamentally a little sounder off the ball. He’s a good on-ball defender but off the ball he wants to gamble too much.”

The Show: I referenced Roland Lazenby’s new book about the history of the club to get a little historical perspective on how fast these Lakers are ingesting the triangle and came up with a couple of items.

The Learning Curve:

“As a rule of thumb, it took a player two years to get comfortable with the on-court reads and the decisions the offense required.”

February 2nd will be the one year anniversary of the end of the Rudy T. experiment and the beginning of the re-implementation of the Triangle as the official offense of the Lakers.

“I started looking at him like Yoda.”:

Apparently, Kobe was calling Tex at home last season for advice once the triangle was re-instituted. But the tables were turned. Rather than Tex following Kobe around the El Segundo facility to get in his ear about what he was doing wrong, Kobe was know seeking out The Master.

“If it wasn’t for Tex, I wouldn’t look at the game or interpret the game the way I do.”

And this also helps.

“Winter [upbraids] anyone, including Bryant, who violates the principles of the triangle…”

His contributions to the overall NBA game; immeasurable. His contributions, even if from afar as a consultant, on these young Lakers; integral to their success.

Check it out: If you haven’t already seen it, Smush “The Grim Reaper” Parker gets some nice run in the March “ish” of SLAM. The article is titled “Hustler’s Ambition”.

Charity begins at the stripe: 57 consecutive free throws for Kobe.

On Tap: The Phoenix Suns

Kurt —  January 20, 2006

First things first: About the worst thing to face on the second game of a back-to-back is the team that plays at the fastest pace in the league. The Suns average five more possessions per game than the Lakers and if it is played at their pace things could get ugly.

Speaking of ugly, did you see the game last night? Here’s the stat of the night (TNT flashed something similar at one point) — Kobe’s true shooting percentage last night: 62.6%; the rest of the Lakers: 47.5% (for some comparison, the league median for players if 53.3%). Talk about being a ball hog all you want, when the rest of the guys don’t hit their shots Kobe has to shoot too much, and with that formula the Lakers can’t win consistently.

I’m with Chris in the comments below (and everyone else on the planet) in being frustrated with Lamar for that drive to the hoop with 14 seconds left on the game clock. Even a good outcome of that drive is that he gets fouled and hits two free throws, which means it is still a two possession game and the Kings get the ball back with too much time on the clock.

But there were other problems, too. Late in the game and in overtime a bunch of the Lakers had that “deer in the headlights” look. There was no triangle offense, only guys trying to get the ball to Kobe no matter how covered he is. Yes, Kobe wants the ball, but if they overplay him other guys have to be open, they need to get their shots and make them.

I want to like Kwame Brown, I am really trying to, but his defensive rotations are terrible (man to man it’s pretty good). He seems to have no sense of where he is on the defensive end of the court. It’s not just the non-rotation on that late three, I had made the note much earlier when Brad Miller pick-and-rolled to a dunk and Kwame didn’t step into the passing lane. There were other incidents as well and not just in this game.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim is a man. I detest Mike Bibby, and wish he played for us.

Check this out: The latest Carnival of the NBA blogs is up — at the cleverly named Bucket Brigade (all about Paul Pierce) — and worth the read.

About the Suns: You hear plenty about the Suns offense, but the key to them this season is they are playing very good defense — they are second in the NBA with a defensive rating of 101.9.

The key is that the Suns are creating more turnovers — on 16.1% of opponent possessions, up from 13.8% last season — and they are giving up fewer offensive rebounds — 27.6% this season, 31.7% last season. They also are slowing team’s shooting a little, 46.8% (eFG%) this season, 47.7% last season.

The best places to attack them have been the point (Steve Nash still doesn’t play defense) and the four. If the Lakers are to have any chance tonight, Lamar Odom has to have a big game and the Lakers need to get points inside.

And they need to control and slow down the tempo. Get into a track meet (as they did at points with both Golden State and Sacramento recently) and they will get run out of the building.

And I’m outta here: I’m going to Vegas for a three-day weekend to visit the in-laws, I’ll be back late Monday.

This brings my annual caution to you single men (and women) out there: Don’t marry someone with in-laws in Vegas. It turns the best city in the nation for nights of fun, debauchery and creating stories you’ll be laughing and retelling when you 70, and turns it into Bakersfield. I will not get to watch one NFL Championship game in a casino, not get one free Jack and coke while playing blackjack (let alone get near a poker table). Rather, I will listen to in-laws describe the pain from their bunions (and other ailments) in excruciating detail, all the while knowing good times are just around the corner taunting me.


Kurt —  January 20, 2006

A bet is a bet, so below is photo courtesy Tom at Sactown Royalty. (Some thoughts on the frustrating loss and the game tonight coming up this afternoon.)


On Tap: The Sacramento Kings

Kurt —  January 19, 2006

Record: 16-21 (Pythagorean 14-23), 12th seed in the West
Record last 10 games: 6-4
Offensive Rating: 107.6 (12th in league)
Defensive Rating: 108.5 (20th in league)

The Lakers coming in: The Miami game was one of the more complete Laker games of the season — sparked by good defense, particularly in the first half.

A quick thought about the offense — it is much better when there is a second player doing some dribble penetration. It’s usually Odom, sometimes Smush, but when one of them can take their man off the dribble — so all of that doesn’t fall to Kobe — the Laker offense is at its best. Which is why we need more games out of Odom like the Miami one.

The Rivalry: Is there really still a rivalry here? I’m not sure we down here in L.A. ever really thought there was one, we just had some tough games with them back in the early part of the Oughts (is that what we’re calling this decade?). But it was just the same as playing Portland or Utah to most of us.

However, the hatred for LA and its basketball team never went away up in that town where Schwarzenegger lives part time. Just check out the usually great Sactown Royalty blog, where Tom has done a “Five most hated Lakers of all time” countdown. And he even takes out one of his own in the process. This is what hate can do to you — Tom, the guy behind that blog, is a very bright and reasoned man, I like him. But when talking about the Lakers he goes from Michael Corleone to Sonny.

Introductions I’d like to see: Peja, I’d like you to meet Ronny Turiaf. He had open-heart surgery back in the fall but is ready to play now, having battled his way to a Laker contract— all on effort and desire. Just thought you two should meet.

About the Kings: Yes they have struggled this season, but they have played well of late, including a 30-point thrashing of the Phoenix Suns two nights ago. In that game Brad Miller was one assist away from a triple-double and some guy named Francisco Garcia had a career high in points.

Tonight the Kings will get back Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who is coming back to play just a couple of weeks after his jaw was broken — he’ll be playing with it still wired shut. He’s been giving the Kings 18.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per 40 minutes, with an impressive true shooting percentage of 60.5%. They also will get back Peja Stojakovic, from a hangnail or whatever, but this could be good for the Lakers — in the last five games he played he has shot just 44.6% (eFG%) and hasn’t been quite the huge threat he used to be all season.

Get to know the names Kevin Martin and Kenny Thomas. Thomas is a four who can hit the boards hard (grabbing 14.1% of the rebounds while he is on the floor this season) and is shooting 55.8% in the last 10 games, getting a bump in run while Abdur-Rahim was injured. Martin is a guard getting a bump in playing time while Peja was injured, and is shooting 57.3% (eFG%) in the last 10 games, and is shooting 44.4% from beyond the arc.

Reasons the Lakers need to win:
I made a bet with Tom of Sactown Royalty: The winner gets to post a picture on the other’s blog. I don’t really want to look at a photo Peja wincing in pain — or whatever he’s going to post — when I log onto my blog. Also, I’ll take suggestions on what photo I should post on Sactown when the Lakers win.

Kobe Makes His Teammates Better

Kurt —  January 17, 2006

The conventional wisdom in the mainstream media is that Kobe is a ball hog.

“Why can’t he make his teammates better, like all the greats did?” they ask.

Well, he does. Over at, friend of this site Kevin Pelton did the detailed work and it shows that when Kobe is on the floor, all the Lakers are better.

Remarkably, every single player has improved his Offensive Rating (while playing with Kobe on the floor), if only by a little in a couple of cases. However, Parker and his backup, Sasha Vujacic, have seen their efficiency cut into by about a quarter when Bryant leaves the court.

George is a particularly interesting case that illustrates why field-goal percentage is not sufficient to address this issue. While George’s field-goal percentage has basically been the same with and without Bryant, his Offensive Rating drops dramatically without Bryant. George hits twice as many 3s per field goal with Bryant on the court, and turns the ball over far, far less. He has just eight turnovers in 433 minutes when teamed with Bryant, 13 in 236 by himself.

This is a must read (and shows why Pelton is one of the best around).

Feeling Better?

Kurt —  January 17, 2006

Last season at this point, the Lakers were 22-16, actually one game better than the 21-17 record they have so far in 05-06. That said, how much better do you feel about this year’s squad?

I have three good reasons for optimism:

1) Last year the Lakers were winning in spite of their defense —they were in the bottom 10 in the league in defensive efficiency constantly (and finished second to last). This season the Lakers are ninth, tied with Detroit.

2) Last year the easy part of the schedule was at the front end, this year it gets easier later.

3) The West is not as deep as last year — while I expect some teams to turn it on (Denver?), the bottom tier of playoff teams in the West will be flawed squads.

The Lakers are just one turned ankle from being average (at best). But from this point forward last season, the Lakers went 12-32, and you just know Phil Jackson won’t let that kind of collapse happen.


Andrew Bynum just went up another notch in my estimation of him. I’m still not sure what he’ll turn out to be in 3-5 years, but he has some fire in him.