20,000 Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  December 24, 2007

It’s really hard to get your head around what an accomplishment 20,000 points in a career is. Look at the list of players who have reached that mark —the list is just 30 players long — and it reads like a “who’s who” of the NBA’s greats. Kobe got there at a younger age than any of them (although Wilt did it faster, in 499 games to Kobe’s 811).

Of that group, just 16 did it with one team. I love the fact that Kobe did — not just because I’m a Kobe fan or a Lakers fan, but because I’m an NBA fan. I think it’s good for the league to have stars that don’t move around much, I think it helps build franchise loyalty and identity. I like that Magic was always a Laker, Bird always a Celtic. I’d like Kobe to always be a Laker, LeBron to stay in Cleveland (unless he wants to become a Laker), Wade to be with the Heat (ditto). I like that Garnett tried hard to make a go of it in Minnesota.

To have watched Kobe since he was a headstrong rookie willing to take big shots in the playoffs, seen him grow into an NBA great, to watch his championships and off-the-court struggles, that makes me appreciate him a little better as a person, and a player. I have more of an emotional investment in him and the team, and while I know this is a business, at some level it’s about the customers (fans) and giving them something worth spending money on. Kobe does that. And it’s been great to watch him score 20,000 points.


• The Bulls just fired Scott Skiles. I’m curious who they bring in and what direction they try to take this team now. Should be interesting.

• As for the Knicks game….

Don’t question too much a win on the road in the last game of a road trip. Getting those wins are the signs of a solid team.

• The Lakers looked great early — well, technically I think the Knicks looked horrible and the Lakers looked good — and then I think their energy lapsed. Say what you will about the Knicks, they bring guys like David Lee and Nate Robinson off the bench who are pure energy guys, and that can keep a team in a game. The Lakers got caught mentally ending the road trip a little early, but they hung on for the win and I’m not going to look much past that right now.

• Looking at the stats is a little odd, just because it was a tale of two halves, but the Lakers ended up getting good shooting nights from Kobe (62.7% true shooting percentage, which takes into account trips to the free throw line), Andrew Bynum (66%), Sasha “The Machine” Vujacic (60%) and Trevor Ariza (71.7%). After that things drop off.

• Re: Ariza, he is a career 16% three-point shooter who has upped that to 33% since coming to the Lakers (because of the open looks the triangle offense gets him). Still, when he lines up to shoot that corner three, defenders run at him and he steps around them baseline and gets to the basket almost every time. It’s brilliant and athletic, but I’m amazed teams don’t dare him to shoot from three.

• Commenter nomuskles got to check something off his to-do in life list that I have wanted to — see a game at Madison Square Garden. In case you missed it, here are some of his comments:

There were quite a few lakers fans in attendance. The Lakers got lots of cheers and Kobe got about 50/50 cheers/boos in introductions.

Saying Nate Robinson is “fast” doesn’t do him justice. He is beyond fast.

Jamal Crawford’s game resembles the game of the 42-year-old guy at the park who gets by on an ugly set shot and funky bank shots. Doesn’t matter how it happens, he puts the rock through the ring.

Two favorite things about the game today:

1. The crowd at MSG was great. They booed Isaiah as much possible, booed their own team for playing like crap through most of the game, and then got astronomically loud when the Knicks made it close. Chants of dee-FENSE were incredibly powerful. The crowd doesn’t need the scoreboard “noise-meter” to tell them to cheer. They just do it. The smallness of the garden helps give the game a great atmosphere. The cavernous space of Wachovia Center (in Philly) and Staples Center severely hinder the power of the crowd.

2. Jordan Farmar’s steal at the end was incredible. Just a huge sucker punch to the whole crowd. They believed they were going to tie the game with a three from crawford and Farmar just came out of nowhere to make the steal. He was just a blur in my vision as he got his hand on the pass.

• In Newsday this morning, Thomas questioned the starting lineup he had out there against the Lakers, saying maybe they needed more energy and defense. Ya think?

• I watched the late-night replay of the Lakers/Knicks game on NBATV (while assembling children’s Christmas toys — the instructions are unimaginably vague, it’s like a puzzle) and the Knicks announcers questioned Thomas in fairly stark terms. They also marveled at Kobe and really praised the Lakers bench, Well, in the first half.

• And one little trivia question from that broadcast — what Laker scored the most points in a single game against the Knicks? (Answer in the comments, get it right and you win, um, the adoration of all.)

• I think the Christmas day game could have a playoff like atmosphere. That is going to be a fun part of the day.

to 20,000 Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Didn’t Elgin’s 71-pt game come against the Knicks?


  2. 1. Wilt for 100.

    2. I REALLY hope that DiAntoni is still pissed from last time. I loved that he was so frustrated. Predic: Lakers 124-116.


  3. Elgin Baylor scored 71.

    2. Wilt was playing for the Warriors when he scored 100. Also if the lakers play the suns in a game that has a combined 240 pts they will lose. They need to hold the suns to the 100-105 range if they want to win. Under 100 would be great but unlikely.


  4. PJ has a great knack for getting under the skinof opposing coaches. (And Lakers fans, who haven’t learned yet that there is a proven point to the way he handles the team.)


  5. Sorry, that should read “And some Lakers fans …”


  6. 2 – i hope that frustration doesn’t turn to a motivating factor for his team. He has a grudge against phil, and tomorrows game will be “personal” for him. i’d hate to see the lakers getting beat badly on national tv. arrogant-d’antoni feels like he’s owed something by the league and his peers. He hasn’t won anything (and with the team he has, he should have won a championship or two). He’s the only reason i don’t want to see phoenix win it all


  7. Ryan –

    Lakers need the Suns to challenge them 1 on 1 to win. We know this method works and PJ should be preaching it until the Lakers are tired of hearing it. If the Lakers have more assists than the Suns, they will win.

    Note to Bynum: Stay put, don’t chase the high screen and leave Amare open.

    Note to Fisher and Farmar: Let Nash shoot those 20-22 footers behind screens. Much better than him beating you off the dribble and dishing to a wide open Amare or Matrix.

    Note to all the other Lakers: Worry about your own man and do not break down and give the help defense.

    Note to the bench: You will win this game for the Lakers. You are much better than the Suns bench and do not lull yourself asleep like you did against NY.

    Note to PJ: Do not let the Lakers fall in love with the 3. You saw what happened in Cleveland and yesterday.


  8. Dude, 71 is correct! As Ryan said, Wilt was a Warrior at the time of the 100 point game.

    Baylor was just so, so graceful to watch (at least in the videos, he was before my time). The Knicks broadcasters include HOFer clyde frazier and he said Baylor was the guy who scared him the most of those he played against.


  9. The matchup I’m looking forward to most is Amare v. Bynum. Amare’s man defense is the reason the Suns will never win a title, and I hope that Phil continues to tell the team what a lot of us commenters say all the time…FEED THE POST.

    7-Completley agree with you about the 3pt shots. It goes back to feeding the post, the 3’s coming from inside out are good looks, the threes that are hoisted up one on one or from just swinging the ball around the perimeter are not good looks.


  10. One of my bittersweet memories was Elgin not sharing in the 71-72 NBA championship, as he retired a few games into the season. Of course, I realized later that they never would have had such a great year if they had kept him.

    Anyway, I used to swipe my dad’s transistor radio after my parents made me go to bed, and then listen to the second half of the games during that season, hoping my parents wouldn’t catch me. I think Lynn Shackelford was Chick’s partner on the air that season. During that streak, the Lakers were so good that I never feared they would be behind when I turned on the radio after lights out. I still remember the first line from Chick after I turned on the radio during the second half of a game against Buffalo: “117-78. This game was over before it even started.” The final score of that game was 141-102. You can look it up.


  11. Just a thought — If Sasha is the only player left to rag on this is a pretty sound unit.

    Putting J Crit in for the last 2min of the NY game (not the last play though) was an interesting bit of coaching for Phil.
    1) It really ticked all us fans off
    2) If he can put a player who hasn’t logged any meaningful minutes this year when the chips are down and the other team has the momentum, then no player better let his mind wander while sitting on the bench.
    3) The pressure won’t be a new feeling if Phil has to insert J Crit latter on this year.

    That move took some reall big ones on Phil’s part. I am sure glad we won, but Phil did really roll the dice.


  12. The Dude Abides;
    That sounds very familiar – I have similar memories of listening to Chick that season. There was also a game where they beat the Warriors 161-99, which at that time was the largest margin of victory in NBA history up to that point. I don’t remember if that was one of the 33 games or not.


  13. the other Stephen December 24, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    sorry Kurt, but i’m too youthy to answer those sorts of trivia questions


  14. Just to clarify, I am too young to answer that question as well, but I watched the game on NBA TV and they mentioned that during the game; both the Baylor 71 pts and that Wilt played for the Warriors when he scored 100.


  15. Sorry 14 was me. I am using a different computor in my lab not my laptop.


  16. So, if you’re Paxson, what do you do? Young coach for the young players? A vet? A players coach?

    They need someone who will get Kirk’s head right and get Noah some playing time (and less Wallace).


  17. Based on the available candidates, who would you pick:

    Van Gundy
    Clark Kent
    Harrick (the dark horse, who I really like)

    Personally would go with Van Gundy. He worked with stars, youngsters, and vets in Houston. He had a bunch of shooters in Houston and he gets a bunch in Chicago. He did good with Houston, but not great.

    None of the other candidates have the same track record as VG.


  18. 16.

    Kurt, go to the NCAA and get a young coach. Someone who’s willing to adapt his system to the players available.


  19. I think the Bulls hiring VG is bad for all of us who watch a lot of televised basketball. But not a bad move.

    The thing is, you end up with a defense-first team with a slow-it-down offense, which doesn’t really fit their players. He’s not a bad choice, but I might roll the dice here.


  20. When was the last time a college coach made a successful transition to the NBA? I don’t like that idea; the two environments are too different. Look at NBA assistant coaches; there are plenty of qualified ones who haven’t had a reasonable opportunity yet.


  21. I expect either Rambis or Shaw to get a call. Especially Shaw. They need someone who can get through to their players…and I think Shaw is that kind of coach.


  22. I also expect that in the next couple of years the Lakers will lose Shaw (or maybe Ramibs) and when that happens they need to give a raise to the other one and tell him he gets the gig after Phil. Just for continuity.


  23. Kurt,
    “they need to give a raise to the other one and tell him he gets the gig after Phil. Just for continuity.”

    Stability, or the lack thereof, in an organization is a HUGE factor in whether or not it will be successful.


  24. I’m surprised they haven’t lost Rambis already. He wasn’t that bad when he took over in the lockout season. PJ was just a bigger coach.


  25. Rambis doesn’t have any star appeal and teams want that for their head coach. He is sort of the anti-star. Shaw is the sexier choice, but I think the Lakers need to keep Rambis, no matter what. He is sharp, dedicated, and can do practically anything within the organization.


  26. Yep, I see Shaw leaving soon and Rambis staying… Wouldn’t mind to see Rambis at the helm (this time without Rodman).


  27. Lakers Recall Karl From D-League
    Yahoo.com – Lakers on Monday recalled guard Coby Karl from the D-Fenders of the NBA’s Developmental League.

    The 24-year-old Karl, who is the son of Nuggets’ Coach George Karl, played in two games with the Lakers earlier this season, scoring two points.

    An undrafted rookie out of Boise State, Karl played in 10 contests with the D-Fenders, averaging 18.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists


  28. Exhel, yes, I remember that 162-99 game against the Warriors because I was at that game! It was my first Laker game, and I remember that a whole bunch of Lakers scored in double figures, and the leading scorer only had about 20 pts. I might be mistaken, but I recall it was in the next season after the championship, maybe Nov/Dec 1972.


  29. Just looked it up, the 162-99 game was in March 1972, so it was the championship season.


  30. Holy shmokes. Hollinger’s pooter claims we’re the best team in the west right now. Clearly untrue, but kinda cool that we’re in the discussion somehow.


  31. the guy formerly known as lamar odom December 24, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    When PJ leaves the Lakers should let Kareem take over. I’m sure he is a mastermind! Although he has expressed interest in coaching in the NCAA. I think he would take a job in the NBA, though, if no colleges are willing to hire him.


  32. Van Gundy is a good common sense head coach, but maybe not the best match for Chicago. With their talent level in the east, they should be playing better than they are right now, even without the fine placement of X’s and O’s; a motivator might be what the job calls for. I have no way of knowing whether Van Gundy fits the bill or not, but my sense is that he is more of a straight-forward strategy wonk than a manipulator of young minds.

    Phoenix will be tough to beat without Kwame… for whatever reason, that guy has played his best ball against Phoenix and they don’t have any answers. But, Bynum can be our difference-maker if he has another break-out game. I have been calling for more touches in the post, but against Phoenix we need him to do more of what he has already been doing: making his own opportunities with offensive rebounds. Second opportunities and easy baskets are the keys to beating Phoenix, because they have a tendency to waste a lot of possessions. That’s OK, so long as the other team only gets as many shots as they do (if given an equal number of attempts, Phoenix will beat just about any other team in the league) .However, as your attempts go up against the Suns, so do your odds…


  33. A more direct way of explaining why we must up our attempts against the Suns: Phoenix’s team field goal percentage is 49.4% (best in the NBA).


  34. Final note (I promise): when I said Phoenix “wastes a lot of possessions”, I meant “against the Lakers”. Overall, they are very efficient on offense and rarely turn the ball over. However, we outrebound them by ton, so maybe their mistakes are magnified by the fact that they don’t get a lot of second chances against L.A.

    That is all.


  35. The Bulls should’ve fired Paxson. Didn’t sign Chandler, signed Big Ben, drafted Aldridge, then traded him for Thomas. Not Skiles fault that Gordon is too short to be a 2 and too much of a ballhog to be a 1. Not Skiles fault that Hinrich is shooting like Kwame Brown or Big Ben is as useful as Mark Madsen.

    As far as Van Gundy, I have been saying since the preseason that Houston would not be as good as they look on paper because they gave up a great defensive coach for a pilsbury dough soft coach for a soft team. Van Gundy will be great anywhere, but I hope he keeps announcing, he’s too good (also, if PJ dips after ’09 we should get him)


  36. 25. If Shaw keeps wearing his shades, he should get the job. Instant star appeal.

    I’d say they hire Van Gundy. Star appeal, hopebringer, motivator too I’m fairly sure, coming from the school of Riley.

    35. I didn’t think Houston would do so well this season either, just based on McGrady history– but better than they are now. I figured being under Van Gundy tutelege they would still play defense reasonably well.

    They’re doing that, looks like. The offensive end is still the problem.


  37. 33. Or how bout we don’t chuck so many 3s.

    I didn’t like the first half of the Knicks game all that much because of the shot selection. Kobe’s offensive choices have got to become a thing of the past. He looks a lot less intelligent now that his team is carrying HIM or staying in the game despite his “off” nights.

    As he scored point 20,000 unfortunately I was reminded more of the similarities between the current Kobe and young buck Kobe, and not the differences that should be more prominent in a veteran that’s going to turn 30 soon.

    I wouldn’t get the Suns in a running game, but we’re probably able to handle that much better this season. It’ll be interesting if one breaks out.


  38. I also watched the game on NBA-TV. Clyde Frazier is … quite poetic.


  39. Are you at all related to Adam Carolla? (No idea who he is, but I have that name in my head.)

    I agree — It’s frustrating for me to see that sometimes Kobe still wants to do it all in the fourth quarter. The facts that he has tremendous self-belief and that he IS, most of the time, the best option in the fourth quarter have been analyzed to death. I just wonder if, at his “age,” he has people around him who are willing to tell him to take fewer of those willful shots and maybe throw it down low to Bynum.


  40. Ok, so… I’m listening to a video of JA Adande analyzing tomorrow’s double-header and he said some things that made me think.Obviously, being a huge Lakers fan, I’m biased on this subject., but everyone seems to talk about the big difference between Kobe and LeBron being that Kobe is pure talent and competitiveness, while Lebron “makes his teammates better.” Now, I’ve watched a lot of Lakers games and only a few Cavs games. However, when I watch the Cavs play offense, I get tired of having them walk the ball up the court so they can run a high screen with LeBron or so that he can go 1-on-1. If LBJ drives to the basket and kicks, that player he kicks to will almost always shoot immediately. It’s no wonder he gets seven assists per game, he has two guys shooting over 50 percent from 3 point land this year! Adande pointed to Illgauskas’ stat increase when LeBron came back as proof of his greatness and superior teammate intangibles. It’s no secret that LBJ is options 1, 2 and sometimes 3 for that Cleveland offense, is it any surprise that Illy would suffer a bit from a defense focused on him?

    Another thing Adande said was that Kobe’s assist numbers are down this year. Based only on my observations and not empirical data, it seems like Kobe is dominating the ball far less this year than last year. He seems to stay within the offense better and get shots based on what the defense gives, rather than imposing his will (yesterday’s Knicks game being an exception). I feel like if Kobe dominated the ball as in previous years, his number stats would go up too. Can you add to this Kurt? I’m not sure where to find the usage statistics to see what percentage of possessions are ending in assists, how many possessions Kobe uses, etc.

    Am I just a big homer? I always seem to be defending Kobe to friends and NBA fans. Is it just me? I always thought Kobe made his teammates better, he just has a different game that Steve Nash. I definitely think he has a more “helpful” effect than LeBron, but maybe that’s the Laker juice talking.


  41. Emma,
    He co-hosted “The Man Show” with Jimmy Kimmel.


  42. 40. The percentage of Kobe’s possessions that end in an assist are basically flat from last season to this season, but last season was a considerable jump from the season before. Kobe tends to do things in waves — pass a lot for a while then shoot a lot for a while. At least it seems that way, without breaking down the game film.


  43. 40, great insights. I think the things you pointed out about LBJ are essentially what Gilbert Arenas was talking about in that early-season interview. Because Lebron dominates the ball on offense for an offensively-challenged team (truth to the claim that they didn’t practice offense or offensive sets at all last season?), he really looks like he’s in charge of what’s happening on the court. I’m no expert, but it occurs to me that the triangle makes Kobe look less “helpful” because when he’s most helpful he’s not orchestrating the offense but simply acting as a cog, spacing the floor correctly, etc. Also, I think the system calls for him to get the ball back more often, whereas you pointed out Lebron’s teammates usually jack it up right when they get the pass. This makes it look like his teammates are looking for him more consciously than perhaps they are.

    I think it’s hard to see Kobe’s genius sometimes because of the way it comes out. I think part of it is playing within the system and part of it is breaking out. The two don’t seem as seamless as they did with Jordan. I think, as fans, we see the disconnect because of the way he attacks the very way the game is played (see Free Darko: ). It can be frustrating. And sure, some of those shots seem ill-advised. I think too this is why people are polarized as to whether or not he’s a good defender. The potential’s obviously there (anyone remember stories of the Glove teaching him a thing or two pre-championships?), but he does so much ball-hawking/gambling that he seems to be hurting the team’s defense. I wouldn’t presume to know the defensive schemes, but I think it’s more than him freelancing. It’s calculated improv. And you can see that in the simple fact that he doesn’t always draw the toughest defensive assignments. It’s purposefully so he can play the lanes and help his teammates.

    Plus, I think the way he attacks helps his teammates too. I think Bynum and Farmar wouldn’t have developed that mean glint in their eye developing around Lebron. Maybe making the game easier for your teammate actually hampers their growth. That’s why the Cavs are so terrible without Lebron. Similarly the suns without Nash. Look at how subpar Finley looked after leaving the Mavs. I think this plays into PJ’s philosophy of coaching too. Bail out your teammates, your players by getting them the ball exactly where they want it and they don’t know how to play without you. Let them figure it out and they learn to get their own.

    I get into the Laker juice too, though. To this day, I still defend Shaq against any detractors (it’s a painful season in that corner of my fanhood). I always touted Fish even though the stats pointed to his subpar shooting percentage and average defensive capabilities (Fish’s return has been a blessing).

    Sorry for the long comment. I love the blog. Great writing Kurt, and inspired facilitation. Merry Christmas!


  44. I don’t think the Bulls will go in Van Gundy’s direction because his coaching principles are very similar to Skiles’. Skiles emphasized defense and proper execution on offense similar to what Van Gundy runs. Dwane Casey’s another name that’s popped up as a possible replacement and he could be good for them. The Bulls need to take Wallace as pretty much a sunk cost now that his defense has slipped so much. Anyways, went to the game today and Staples had a playoff-type atmosphere today. This was definitelyl a STATEMENT GAME. Bynum dominated and held the First Team All NBA’s Center (Amare) to well below his averages. Kobe dominated withing the offense and we managed to hold on to the win while allowing 115.