Archives For December 2006

Slowing Kobe. All eyes will be on Bryant after his version of “The Closer” on TNT Thursday. And remember, the last time he faced the Clippers Kobe put up 20 in the first quarter. The Clippers in that game, and likely tonight, went with Quinton Ross on Kobe, the Lakers countered by posting Kobe up so he could use his size and strength. Tonight I expect Ross to get a lot of help in his job.

Little help here. Last meeting, Kobe shot 54.5% (eFG%), the rest of the team shot just 37.1%. Kobe is going to need some help tonight.

Kwame starts.
In the wake of Kobe’s explosion I’ve neglected to mention the change in the starting lineup, with Kwame in and Bynum out. It seems warranted to me, Kwame has been pretty consistent while Bynum has been up and down, and more down the last week or so. I expect Phil will go with the hot hand in crunch time each game.

Slowing the Clipper stars. In the last meeting both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette finished with 20 points, but combined they shot just 45.5%, not terribly efficient. With Chris Kaman out tonight Kwame and Bynum should be able to help more on Brand, hopefully slowing him some.

Out of their slump. You know how sometimes you see slumping teams start to execute better even as they lose another game or two at the end of a streak? The Clippers did that against Sacramento two games ago, at least according to Kevin at Clipperblog — Los Angeles ran its offense and got the shots it wanted, they just missed them. They missed 68 of them. In one game. That’s pretty much the definition of an off shooting night.

But against Memphis the shots started to fall again and the Clips picked up an impressive win coming into the Laker game.

Things to look for. The Lakers had a lot of success in that first meeting with a high pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop, look to see more of it.

Sam Cassell had his way with Smush in the first meeting, although the Clippers went away from that match up late. The Lakers as a team are going to have to do a better job on him. Also, Shaun Livingston has had a couple good games in a row, if he continues he should get big minutes (and the Lakers might counter with Sasha).

The Lakers likely will see some zone defense. Get the ball inside, either by a pass or Kobe penetrating off the dribble, and the zone will break down.

Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  December 1, 2006

Um, maybe that Kobe guy is pretty good. Some random thoughts on that and more from last night.

• Apparently,’s Scoop Jackson or his editor did not get the Colin Cowherd memo. Scoop’s column yesterday was written from the perspective of the new NBA basketball, even calling it the “Orange Roundie.” A clever idea — except that The Cavalier at has been doing that same thing all season, complete with calling it the Orange Roundie. Understandably the Cavalier was pissed.

Scoop’s original column had the ball saying he heard he was called orange roundie by “a website.” After NBA bloggers who got up earlier than I pounded the issue this morning, there is now credit to YAY sports, but still no link. The best wrap-up on everything so far is Will’s post at Deadspin, which includes a response from Scoop saying he had a link and more in but his editors took it out. Maybe that’s true.

Whoever did it, what galls me is that the rules of common courtesy in blogs and online are pretty simple — I don’t care who re-posts my stuff (not that anyone really wants to); just give me credit and a link. Don’t pretend it’s your own. Pretty much every blogger I’ve talked to — political, sports, lifestyle, arts, whatever — feels the same way. It’s simple common sense, your mom should have taught you go give credit where credit is due, not to steal. Why is that so hard to learn?

• Enough ranting, let’s talk hoops.

• Credit Jerry Sloan for being a man of his convictions — he was going to cover Kobe with one man and he stuck with that plan. And as that man was usually AK-47, it’s not a bad plan. One problem: There are nights when Kobe, like no other playing today, can channel the basketball gods and become unstoppable. At that point, as a coach, you scrap plan “A” and double him every time he gets near the ball. Some other Laker may beat you, but you’ve got better odds that way than not adjusting your Kobe defense.

By the time Sloan changed strategies Kobe had drilled two long-range threes over the tall Russian, the third quarter was winding down, the Lakers were up 20 and the game was all but over.

• In case you missed it (and have ESPN Insider), David Thorpe had a great — and amazingly timely — breakdown of Kobe’s game that went up on the site several hours before tip off.

What he talks a lot about (and we’ve discussed here) is just how well rounded Kobe’s game is — he can drain deep threes or post you up, can shoot well with either hand, attacks the rim and has a pull-up jumper. As we noted last year (thank you Synergy Sports), last year Kobe drove to his left 49% of the time and his right 51%. How do you defend a guy with no weakness to push him toward?

Well, you could double him and make him give up the ball. Nah….

• Regular here Nate JONESONTHENBA was at the game last night and, apparently, is a kept man by a wealthy woman or lucked into great seats. Love to hear his thoughts.

By the way, he is now part of a new must-read NBA blog at AOL — the NBA Funhouse — with some of the best and most creative bloggers out there taking part JE Skeets, the guys from The Big Lead, plus many more). Congrats on that!!

• Kobe’s stats (thanks to Rob L for firing those off to me not long after the game last night): a True Shooting Percentage of 79.8%, an offensive rating of 157 (if he had used 100 possessions he would have scored that much, instead he used just 25 possessions). He also was +23 for the night.

• It was Lamar Odom who led the Lakers in +/-, he was +30.

• Don’t sleep on Maurice Evans, who had a nice game going 6 of 9 from the floor with 17 points. Also, Luke Walton had one of those great quietly efficient nights he seems to have every game now — 10 points on 3 of 5 shooting, but an offensive rating of 154 for the game.

• Utah has now lost three of four, and they didn’t appear nearly as crisp on offense s they did last game. I’ll chalk that up to being the second game of a back-to-back, I still think they could be a real force this season.

• The Jazz still got 14 offensive boards, but had just 20 defensive ones — the Lakers shot 65.3% (eFG%) as a team, so there just weren’t many missed shots to grab.