Preview & Chat: NOOCH

Kurt —  March 23, 2007

Kobe is amazing. Here’s the thing, while he’s scored 175 points in three games (which is just crazy) he’s doing it efficiently. He’s shooting 60.8% (eFG%), or if you just want to go old-school field goal percentage you still get 54%. He’s shooting 53.6% from three-point range.

It’s one thing to take a lot of shots, but to score this efficiently while taking on that much of the offense is all the more incredible.

Understanding Kobe’s drive. Roland Lazenby, from a perspective that only he can provide, talks about Kobe’s psychology:

His ambition has been blamed for wrecking a Lakers dynasty. He has battled himself, his teammates, his coaches, the game itself. He has done so fearlessly, relentlessly, with little sign of regret or doubt, only the dogged pursuit of his vision of what he is supposed to be.

There was no question that Bryant could on any given night be blinded by his own brilliance, just as his teammates could be mesmerized by it.

Soon many fans came to equate his every action with selfishness, so that no matter what he did, or how brilliantly he did it, his accomplishments were met with derision.
The realization of this first drove Bryant to despair; then it drove him to compromise.

I like to hammer Phil Jackson in this column, almost as much as I like to extol the virtues of Tex Winter. Both men deserve much credit for their work with Bryant. Winter guided and nurtured him through the harsh phases of his career.

And after being Bryant’s uncommunicative enemy for several seasons, Jackson has become his ally, the man responsible for guiding him toward a team mind-set.

Often Jackson and Winter have differed in their opinions on how to handle Bryant. Now, though, they seem to agree that the Lakers absolutely need Bryant and the full firepower of his arsenal to push the team out of its doldrums and back on track toward the playoffs.

As a result, Bryant is now realizing his vision of 50-point games, of dominating, of “being the man.”

The latest elbow. You can see the video here. To me, Jones is running at Kobe, who puts his arm up to create a little space and inadvertently caught him in the face. I can see calling the foul there, although Jones embellished to draw the foul, but it’s not a suspendable act. Or you wouldn’t think so.

An item for us stats guys. If you stat friendly types have not been following the most recent thread of discussion on Dave Barri’s work over at APBR, you should be. Non-stat types, Henry at True Hoop did a quality wrap up.

I do not believe there is a “holy grail” stat out there that can summarize a player. I use Hollinger’s PER, but to me it is a snapshot stat, one that gives you the big picture. The real info is in the details.

The value of an assist. In the comments a few posts back, Ian started a little talk about the value of an assist, with of course Nash taking center stage. But as I said there, sometimes people ignore there are two parts to the assist — the pass and the guy who made the shot.

What would happen if you took Steve Nash and put him on New Orleans? The only two guys on the Hornets who play significant minutes and shoot over 50% (eFG%) are Peja and Tyson Chandler. And you don’t want Chandler to shoot a lot. (Compare that to the Lakers, where 8 guys are over 50% and Odom is at 49.5%.) While Chris Paul is no Nash, our Canadian friend’s assist total would drop if he needed David West and Desmond Mason to drain shots and not Stoudemire, Marion and Bell. Chirs Paul gets a lot of assists but he’d get a lot more if he had guys around him who could finish.

The only two things to watch tonight:
1) Will Kobe continue on his torrid pace? (To answer a common question [via Skigi and old friend Dan Reines— and I mean OLD — in the comments] Wilt scored 50+ in 7 straight, then did 5 straight another time. He was a true man among boys.)

Will the Lakers play any defense? While the Lakers have won three straight it’s because the offense has bailed the defense out, or maybe it is more accurate to say Kobe has. Last time the Lakers played NOOCH they lost, giving up 113 points — and that was without Chris Paul in the lineup (David West had 26 and Rasual Butler had 20 and was 4 of 7 from beyond the arc). The Lakers need to play better than that, better than the last three games.

Kurt

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18 responses to Preview & Chat: NOOCH

  1. Games like tonight are an example of how much harder it is for the Lakers to play on the road than anybody else. For any other team in the league, tonight’s game would be an off-the-radar quiet game against a sub-.500 team. But for Kobe and the Lakers, it will be a hostile, loud and crazy playoff type atmosphere. Thats how it is most places we go. So the fact that we lost to them before without Paul in their lineup doesn’t mean we played horribly. They were just playing their asses off

  2. What’s that? Hey? You’ll have to lean closer, I don’t hear so good these days.

    Say again? Well that’s nice of you. Thanks, I think you’re a gold friend too, Kevin. Say hi to Danielle for me!

    Now would you please pass me my teeth?

  3. I agree, other teams ALWAYS get up for the Lakers. There is always TV, much media attention, and KOBE. You really don’t want to be embarrassed in front of your ‘national’ family.

    That said, the Lakers do have to get back more quickly and to be prepared to take charges. Especially since Kwame is still slow because of his ankle. I could settle for fewer steal attempts from Smush if he would stay far enough away to keep his man in front of him – ok, let them shoot some 3’s, but not layups.

  4. chris henderson March 23, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    skigi has an excellent point here, it seems to me like every arena we are visitors, the stadium, the fans, the opposing team, well, this is the “game of the season” for all of them. The Lakers are a team with an aura of greatness, and these days, these opponents can “smell blood” and as Skigi says, it’s playoof atmosphere, and intensity.
    sometimes I watch these games and it’s not like the Lakers are phoning it in, they are playing hard, it’s just that they don’t match the intensity level. (some games they do phone it in, and while I tivo most games, on those, it’s “why bother” to watch after mid way through the 3rd quarter)
    so tonight, yep, expect another hi intensity game, one they feel they can win against a team with a rep! (somehting we’re sure ol’ B Scott will point out too)
    any word from the league looking at Kobe’s elbow from last night?
    I agree, that him being on a 3 game 50+ streak is big news for the league and they’d have to be idoits to bring some bad press on this event.
    even I found myself routing for Kobe to hit 50 last night, more so than seeing the team get a W, so we have to know that the non-Laker fan must be interested in this as well.
    wonder how he’s going to approach it tonight? it can be a distraction, but as has been stated numerous times here, we wouldn’t have won any of these last 3 without his points…
    not good for the long haul, but might work down this stretch drive, gotta see Luke and lamar keep bringing it, and Kwame has been a good defender, if only he could catch the ball.

  5. Yea, that Atlanta game earlier this year was one of the more boisterous arenas i’ve seen with Kobe in town. When Joe Johnson and Kobe went head-to-head a few possessions, the crowd lost their minds. That is clearly what they came out for.

    But, there is a reason why the Lakers are the Lakers, and it’s because of their outstanding legacy and marquee players that we have had throughout the years. We’ve become such a draw around NBA arenas. I think it drives Kobe. He’s got to feel like the coolest guy in the world when they go out on the road. Who wouldn’t get up for that?

  6. Kobe must be tired. Its not healthy to shoot as many times as he has the last few games… even for him. He can’t score 50 every game because it would simply wear him out… but then again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another 60 from KB24. They guy is not human.

    And on a side note, I’m SO HAPPY that my cable company down here in the OC (Cox Cable) finally added KCAL 9 to the list of HD channels. Last night’s game was my 1st HD experience and it was incredible. So if anybody else here lives in the OC, we’re hooked up now!

  7. No doubt, skigi– one of many things of which
    the Laker tyros on the squad must be continually
    reminded is that EVERY team tries to bring their A-game
    when the Lakers come to town.

    We know it because MThompson
    especially mentions it on air, as well
    as we see the Forum Blue and Gold representing
    in clusters in every arena, so as much as they might
    want to let down, there’s ne’er a game nor a team
    either side of the .500 that will just roll over
    and just give ‘em the W on mystique alone.

    D-fense was still rather toreador-esue last night
    ( Gasol got inside like a bloody termite )
    but the Lakers kept energy and focus up
    through the end of the game,( thank you, Lamar )
    UPS learned how make his negative polarity hands
    work in his favor on some timely steals & blox,
    turnovers were way lower than in recent history,
    and the outside shots were recognized as ineffective
    ( except for Kobe’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien” Specials )
    before they started to fall behind.

    Value of an assist–
    I was just mulling over the MVP race
    comparing what difference the personnel has made
    in the fortunes of Nash, or Rasheed or McGrady even.
    Some people can play in the team scheme,
    and some break out, maybe realizing that “potential”
    the pundits saw in them earlier.

    Much as I like to read Lazenby, after a while
    words and analysis about Kobe are pointless.
    The man is THAT GOOD.
    ENJOY him before he retires.

    Why cast judgment on his desire to be the best,
    as some self-declared Laker fans STILL do?

    I have to avoid getting wound up on this subject,
    because as I look over his career thus far
    I see Pharisees and Philistines everywhere.

    That Kobe has risen rather than succumbed
    is most amzing of all things.
    Some players like Kwame have been subjected
    to many torments trying to make a way in the NBA
    and have lost a vital part of their self-confidence
    that could have made a difference in their careers,
    while freespending owners and clueless GMs
    have been arguably more of a detriment to the league
    than any perceived action on Kobe’s part.

    Kobe is the latest in a storied line of Laker champions;
    long may he grace the boards.

    – 5 –
    he may in time be the greatest.

  8. Defense is more predictable than offense. All five players on the floor must truly work as a team–both on offense and on defense. It usually keeps the margin close. As long as the difference in score is small or favors a defensive team, the pace will be slow–and it will take time to score. The final score will be relatively low. It takes a well prepared strategy and players able to carry out the plan as a team–ruthlessly enforced!

    We’re seeing it with UCLA again this year with the same general results (and complaints) as last year–but , maybe a few added exclamation marks. They only scored 20 in the first half against Indiana–but Indiana only scored 13!

    In the case of these Lakers, we’ve seen their plan and the results. At this time of the season, we can anticipate the level of defense and the level of collaboration by who starts and which players are on the court together.

    As Kurt points out, “Last time the Lakers played NOOCH they lost, giving up 113 points . . . ”

    What he didn’t point out is that the starting 5 for the Lakers in that game were Parker, Bryant, Cook, Bynum, and Walton. If those 5 start again tonight, they might well give up 113 again–or more.

    With Odom and Kwame replacing Bynum and Cook as starters, we have reason to expect giving up fewer points.

    Unfortunately, that is not enough.

    As long as Smush starts (and I think he’s started every game) you’ll know that the Lakers are not totally committed to team lockdown defense. They won’t have five committed players that work together and communicate well with each other on defense. Maybe an occasional defensive flurry, but not a strategic plan.

    They will not be confident of getting stops toward the end of the game. They won’t play the offense to protect the defense often enough. They won’t strategize to get those offensive rebounds and putbacks often enough. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Often enough, it will be run and gun playground, watch Kobe–and pray a lot.

    Flashy, fun–and ultimately futile.

  9. red 5, i agree with you about kobe, there’s no analysis that can be made that fully explains the beauty of what kobe does, its indescribable, really, he looks like a video game with his assortment of moves

  10. Here’s a fun question… replace MJ with Kobe on the 90s Bulls. Would they be better or worse or the same?

  11. Congrats Kurt on winning Kevin Garnett thing on True Hoop!

  12. Uy– now see, I hate them there Qs like that,
    because usually it’s posed to proffer the idea
    that Kobe falls short in some way.

    I went back and looked at the rosters
    of Chicago 1990 and LAL circa 1998–
    check it out, a lot of the season results are the same.

    But look at the rosters–
    the question becomes
    which team would you prefer to be on?

    That Laker assembly looks flakier
    than a bowl of Wheaties in hindsight,
    and that was Kobe’s debut period.

    I’m inclined to think the Bulls with current-day Kobe
    would have had a few more losses simply from
    replacing one impact player for another,

    but he’d have Paxon and Armstrong
    on the outside and HoGrant and Pippen
    and Cartwright inside who knew their roles
    and Kobe would do as he does–
    play with what’s in front of him and seek the edge.

    Perhaps the next season they would not have
    beaten the Lakers 4-1, but the players on the Bulls team
    were ascendant and confident and I think they would have
    continued to be a major power.

    – 5 -

  13. Farmar’s been playing some tough defense and made a few nice plays. Oddly enough, Kwame got into foul trouble in the first and Bynum’s in now. As Bynum has come in, the easy dribble penetration of the lane by the Hornets stopped. This also coincided with Farmar coming in for Shammond.

  14. 1 down. 9-5 to go. Good for a 45 and 37 record and a 6 seed. The Rockets in the 5 seed are 7 games ahead, and chances of catching them are slim.

  15. I cant believe Kobe is on pace for another 60 and I can’t watch because every TV on campus is watching the frickin NCAA.

  16. A victory over a team for the first time this season is good. It wasn’t easy–bu it was convincing. The strategy of using the depth of the bench was long overdue. Turiaff was terrific in a time of need. There even were flashes of defense.

    Some thing to build on.

  17. I know we have weaknesses, but KOBE, oh my gosh! Man he makes the team feel so much stronger. They actually can make mistakes and KOBE will bail them out. What a luxury.

    This is really a once-in-a-lifetime sight. We should all enjoy these games while they last.

  18. we really are one of the better scoring teams once Kobe gets his groove.

    hmm i slightly remember the suns running joke from a few years back though…

    something like

    ulitmately the team that played better defense was the one that held the opponent to fewer points than theirs. (im pretty sure i butchered the quote)