Lakers/Hawks Thoughts

Kurt —  November 2, 2009

la lakers media day9/29/2009
Last season, the mantra at this site was “The Lakers will go as far as their defense will take them.” Maybe we should not have changed that. Sunday night against Atlanta was the first time the Lakers defense won a game for them this season. And it was the first one where Ron Artest’s defense in particular was the key (with an assist from Mike Woodson).

Let’s break down why Joe Johnson was on fire early (he was 7 of 8 in the first quarter, had 18 points and looked like he wanted to make a run at 81).

Kobe was on Johnson for the first quarter, Artest on Josh Smith. Kobe started “playing free safety” as he likes to call it (we here have called it many other, less kind things). On one play in particular, Kobe left Johnson alone at the three-point line to double Horford inside trying to swipe at the ball for a steal, and Horford kicked it out for an open look by Johnson that he nailed. We all know you shouldn’t leave one of the best pure shooters in the game, but Kobe has and will. In the first quarter, six of those seven baskets by Johnson were assisted — credit here to the Hawks for making the pass to the open guy, these are not your Memphis Grizzlies. But Kobe was leaving him open for those shots.

The Lakers caught a break when, for reasons only he can explain, Hawks coach Mike Woodson sat Johnson for seven minutes of game time with about three minutes left in the first quarter (post game quote, “I pulled him because he nearly played the whole quarter… He’s got to rest sometimes.”). Apparently they didn’t need his shooting.

When he came back out, pretty quickly the Lakers went to Artest on Johnson, and that was it. Artest was relentless. Artest bodied him and gave him almost no space. Artest never left him, never let him easily get to the spots he wanted on the floor, never let him really breathe. Johnson was 1 of 8 the rest of the way with nine points (mostly from free throws), and when it got to crunch time the Hawks could not turn to him. On the night, Artest blocked two jump shots.

Artest on Johnson followed by Kobe on Smith, a guy you can cheat off of in spots, allowed Kobe to gamble more safely and pick up five steals. Then in the third quarter, it was the entire Lakers defense started trapping anyone not named Bibby and we saw a series of forced turnovers (the Hawks had eight in the third quarter) that got the Lakers out to a 16-0 run. The Lakers used their length to force turnovers, block shots and just generally disrupt.

Next up for Artest: Kevin Durant in OKC. But for a night we got a glimpse of what could be, and what we hoped will be.

• We may want Kobe to play less free safety this year, but Phil Jackson seemed to imply he was fine with it because with Artest he had another stopper option. And that helps keep Kobe fresher for the offensive end, where he had what Craig W. accurately called in the comments a quiet 41.

• Hard to argue with a Lakers team that shot 55.7% (eFG%), but they are not exploiting mismatches like they can. Jamal Crawford was on Kobe for a stretch and it took LA a while to start going at that. Artest ended up with the ball in the post a couple times with Bibby switched on him and did not attack. Hopefully this recognition improves.

• Post game, the Lakers bench guys in the locker room admitted they have work to do. Walton talked about the second unit going to too much isolation, not creating good shots through the offense, about needing to pick up the defensive intensity. He said they realize it, and that things and rotations will be different upon Gasol’s return.

If admitting there is a problem is the first step to fixing it, well, at least we’ve got that.

Bill Bridges had thoughts along these lines in the comments.

What is more concerning is the play of Walton, Farmar, and Vujacic. The Lakers need these three to play at an average competence for NBA players to win the West without burning out the starters. Not play well, just the mean.

However, a combination of declining athleticism (Walton), IQ problems (Farmar), and emotional problems (Vujacic) has created a dangerous situation for PJ. Instead of average performance, he is getting failing, D-League, performance.

If you can’t remember the last time Sasha made a shot, you’d be right to wonder. Sasha is no 0-fer the last seven playoff and regular season games. Imagine that. The last time he saw a shot of his, from the field or from the line, go through the hoop was the end of May in 2009.

I think Mitch and PJ has written Farmar off, hoping for a positive surprise but not expecting it. The signing of Shannon and his contract not getting extended are screaming clues. And after 3 years of the same boneheaded plays, he and Ammo must be trade-deadline fodder.

Sasha is another case. He is under a medium term contract at about the league average. He needs to produce at the average. Watching Artest and Fish brick one 3 after another, suddenly the Lakers have very few player who can stretch the defense and open up lanes for Pau and Kobe.

PJ somehow must get Sasha going and cure his malaise. One radical idea is to start him in Fish’s place (at least one game) and give him some serious minutes. If he is still ofer after 30 minutes of play… then you have to just shoot him. But somehow I think he will get a shot to drop. Obviously 2 minutes stretches are just not fixing the machine.

He spent the summer learning the lead guard spot under the coaching staff’s direction, so he can play the position. I think this is a good gamble and not too risky as when Sasha plays poorly, he is a zero. When Farmar plays poorly, he is a huge minus.

To be fair, against the Hawks Walton had his best game of the season and Sasha hit a shot. But the Lakers had a 20-point lead in the fourth, the Hawks put their starters in and the lead shrunk to 12 and Phil was forced to bring the Lakers starters back. Burnout will be an issue over time if this is not resolved.

• Good to see, but off the loss the Lakers did come out more focused and with a more business like approach as a team.

• For the record: Not one bat spotted in Staples Center Sunday night.

64 responses to Lakers/Hawks Thoughts

  1. By the way, if you noticed the tape on Phil’s left index finger, he cut it while preparing dinner. Seriously.

  2. As much as some of us dislike Kobe’s “free safety” mentality, I don’t think we should expect that to change. I’m of the opinion that the extra steals and fast break opportunities will help us more than they’ll hurt us. I would never expect Phil to sign off on Kobe doing something to harm the greater good. Kobe shooting for a steals title? that could be fun.

  3. Good stuff, Kurt. I jumped in that post and soaked it up like a doughnut in hot coffee. Keep it coming!

  4. Kurt,

    Is there any real concern in the organization about Gasol’s injury? Part of me wants to believe this is PJ’s way of getting Pau an extended rest.

    At the same time it is a little troubling to see one of our most intelligent, versatile, and effective players wearing street clothes for the fourth straight game. I know what the official word is. But sometimes it is hard to take the official word at face value. I remember when Andrew sustained his knee injury in January, 2008 and was only suppose to miss eight weeks. So forgive me if I am not satisfied with the company line on this one.

  5. 3. mmmm, doughnuts.

    4. This was my first game this season in the locker room, but I didn’t get the feeling there was real concern. Without breaking a confidence, I would say that the Lakers are fine letting Pau heal on his own timetable, but that other players might have had a faster timetable.

  6. It seems to me that they are waiting for Pau’s hamstring to fully heal before letting him come back. He has been playing non stop basketball for a while now and probably has some muscle fatigue. Its probably safer to wait till it is fully healed and allow him to rest a little, rather than risking him injuring it again.

  7. What a great way to start my day, reading a post like this about last night’s game and more. Hmmm, Kobe going off every night offensively with Artest doing the same defensively, that will work for me. Let’s see Brown get those bench minutes that he deserves, that will take care of the PG problem in my book.

  8. Hilarious/annoying note from Staples Center last night: during a timeout, Andrew had some kind of player profile-type thing up on the Jumbotron. When asked what the fans could do to help the team, he said something like, ‘Uh… be more aggressive…’

    Hey, Drew: you’re being guarded by Zsa Zsa Pachulia and you’ve got 4 points! How ’bout maybe YOU be more aggressive?! Trust me, between my hoarse voice and my 11 dollar Kirin, I’m not really the problem on the offensive sets.


  9. Kurt i was thinking the same thing watching the game last night. He is so wide and his shoulders have those 3 distinct muscle type things connecting his arm. I mean he is no Dwight Howard but dude is big.

  10. I’m honestly not the least concerned about Pau’s injury. The rest of the team doesn’t seem to be worried, Pau himself seems more impatient and restless than anything else, and frankly, it’s early in the season and he’s had a very busy summer. Let the guy rest and take his time to heal. He’ll return with brilliance and dominance soon enough.

  11. I think the Kobe roamer thing will get better as the season goes on. Last night the Lakers learned a little bit : lockdown on Johnson and roam off of Smith. As the coaches and the players learn when to juggle between Kobe, Artest, and lockdown vs. disrespectful defense I think we’ll become a lot stronger of a team overall.

    For example, in the next couple of games hopefully the staff will have Artest locking up guys like Kevin Durant and Trevor Ariza. They’re not the type of guys that Kobe can roam off of.

  12. Wow Kurt,
    You get to go to the locker rooms now? I am so jealous. Kudos for you! What is that like for you?

    • Motoman, my credential is through my other writing gig ( not through FB&G, without getting into specifics the Lakers will not credential me through this blog. The challenge with this is that NBCLA gets priority — all the post game quotes I get go in their stories (which are different and aimed at a more casual fan, although that may change). If I learned something really interesting I would have to write the story for NBCLA then write a second story here and link to it. But, the good news is I can get impressions, talk to people, flesh things out with details and color I could not get without access. Sort of like what is going on with this post. I spent a lot of time this summer trying to think about what is the best way to use access and have it fit within the FB&G model, to keep doing what has been going on here.

      Oh, and yea, it’s pretty cool. Damn cool.

  13. I disagree on one point: when Sasha plays poorly (or I suppose him playing “poorly” is him playing at his average now) he is a definite minus with all of his dump pull up long range 2s, and off balance shots.

    I do like the idea of starting Sasha just to try to get him in a groove, but he needs to get used to being pulled in and out of games. Steve Kerr used to do a training exercise where he and an assistant coach would just sit and talk about random things, but at random intervals the coach would have him go and shoot three or four jumpers, than return to talk some more. That’s the attitude Sasha needs to take in his shooting, there aren’t enough minutes on a championship caliber team for a player of his caliber to “get into a rhythm” during a game.

    I am also in agreement on Farmar’s minutes vis-a-vis trade bait. As I’ve said a few times before, I’ve followed him through highschool, college, and the NBA and the kid just can’t turn a mental corner. We have to accept that he is an idiot, or we’ll be the idiots.

    And of course, the ultimate solution has to be WOW. Fish can start and finish as Phil’s security blanket, but the only guy I feel like fans, teammates, and organization are all sold on is WOW. I’ve no problem with an undersized 2 guard learning how to run a structured NBA offense; see: Deron Williams


    i don’t know what’s more worrisome: the status of pau’s hamstring, or that phil feels it necessary to bring him back asap.

    i have my reservations. i’d prefer a more conservative approach, but it’s hard to question phil’s judgment, because he has more information about the injury and the experience to manage/limit gasol.

  15. swedishmeatballs November 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Kurt, how come they’re doing an MRI at this point? something smells fishy..

  16. I guess I won’t fret too much about Pau. Truthfully, the Lakers should be able to make do without him for a couple more weeks. The Denver roadie will be the toughest on the immediate schedule. The Houston roadie should get their juices flowing as well.

    It is better to have the big Spaniard healthy than to rush him back. However, if Phil thinks he is ready to go then why should we worry? Phil has proven he knows his stuff.

    • Swedishmeatballs, I can’t get into the details of an off-the-record discussion, but I think it’s safe to say there is not total agreement on how injured Pau is and how soon he could return to play. I personally am in the “let him rest” camp, but there is another camp.

  17. Kurt,

    I’m with you on the let him rest thing, but I would also say that next time Team Spain comes calling we also ‘let him rest.’

    I am a little nervous about his now.

  18. 12) Woah, lumping Kevin Durant and Trevor Ariza in the same sentence? I guess scoring 33 will do that for ya.

    Re: Pau, I think Phil wants him back soon so he can finally see what we’ve got for lineups and shore up our bench with LO. Not that we can’t keep up record-wise with Bynum taking on the scoring load down low, but the box score shows Kobe, LO, and Ron all playing 38+ minutes in what should have been a blowout. Not a good thing to do for extended weeks this early.

  19. Kurt, I hope this season if you write an article somewhere else other than FB&G, you will give us the link to it, so that I may enjoy your insight, wherever it may be out here in the Cyberworld. It is kind of convenient though; that you can write whatever you want here and not have to have it approved by someone else. That ESPN Today, Podcast was just great that you did a little while ago, lots of good stuff from you.

  20. Me worried about Pau’s hamstring. Me hopes not turn into Garnett like secret injury.

  21. Does anyone think it’s a good idea for the Lakers to have not extended Farmar’s contract? He will now be a restricted FA in July.
    If this doesn’t light a fire under his butt, what will?

  22. Pau is getting an MRI on the hammy.

    Now Phil is calling it a tear. Still don’t like the sound of it. But they need to let the guy rest up and get back to 100%. No, I don’t like what it does to our bench. And I don’t like the extra minutes guys like Kobe, Ron and Fisher have to play. But what other choice do they have?

    Pau will be desperately needed down the stretch. Give him the time, treatment, and rest to get it together now.

    • A slight tear in the hamstring is what Iverson had, he sat about three weeks but returns to the court tonight. How much you sit depends on the severity of the tear, but this is clearly a small one not to have been picked up before.

  23. I think too many bench players think they have the green light to shoot the first shot that they have available instead of running the triangle and getting the best shot possible. Mbenga, brown, farmer, and sasha seem like their trying to get thiers instead of playing team ball. I think a good example of this was brown pulling up in transition, taking and making a three, but it was a bad shot with no lakers there to rebound. Phil seemed to think so too as brown got pulled the next dead ball. Run the offense and let Kobe, artest, LO set the table. Brown was so good last year because he didn’t force anything and took what was given him by kobe, gasol, etc.

  24. It’s bizarre that nobody on the Lakers, currently, can seem to be able to hit an outside shot with any consistency. Artest had a pretty good shooting percentage from behind the arc last year…I wonder if it was more a case of him having hot and cold streaks rather than consistently hitting at a 42% clip?

    • Just some numbers to define outside shooting: From 10-15 feet out the Lakers are averaging 8.3 shots per game (one more than the league average) and hitting 40% of those (at the league average); for 16 feet out to the three point line the Lakers are taking 16 shots per game, five less that the rest of the league, but shooting 34.7%, which is 5% lower than the league average; From three the Lakers are taking one more shot per game than the league average but shooting a very sad 29.1% (league average 36%).

  25. For all of us who felt the Lakers were clearly the most talented and deep team this year and would win 72 games — it is funny how one injury to Pau Gasol changes all our previous misconceptions.

    If we were so deep we wouldn’t be playing the starting unit 38+ min/game.

    Maybe there is still work for Mitch to do this year.

  26. Is Craig Hodges still an assistant with the team? He was the shooting coach to our guys last year, wondering if he’s still with the organization. Lack of chemistry concerns me more than shooting right now. I know we’re missing Pau and Ron is new, but the rest of the guys have been together for a while now. Nowhere near panic mode, but with the Celtics and the Magic loading up and playing well, home-court advantage will be huge in June.

  27. I’m getting way ahead of myself here but I just wanted to note that on the 2001 Lakers team:

    *Shaq missed 8 games
    *Kobe missed 14 games
    *Fisher missed 62 games
    *The Lakers won 56 games which was good for 1st in the Pacific Division, 2nd in the Western Conference
    *The Lakers repeated as Champions and went 15-1 in the playoffs

    I say all this because injuries happen and they may disrupt what many were hoping could be a historical season. But we must keep our eyes on the finish line and not just at the starting gate. Like other teams coached by Phil Jackson, the goal is to be playing your best when the playoffs start. Let us have good health when the second season begins and take our chances. Like I said, I’m getting way ahead of myself because I don’t want to disregard the regular season. But, these games, while important for many different reasons, don’t have me worried or concerned about our future success. I want to enjoy these games and debate how we can improve and just be a fan like everyone else. But, I’m also looking big picture and there’s still too much basketball left for me to worry about things that I don’t think will last for the entire season. (knocks on wood.)

  28. The Kobe roaming bit will be a success.
    My biggest concern is that Gasol will be brought back too soon. The NBA season is very long, and the Laker nation needs to be prepared for it. Operation burn out will only get you divs on the best fishing hole come early summer. My general assessment of the Lakers is that when the dust settles, they will be where I thought they’d be …. at the top.

    By the way, you guys dealing a show that’s really great; keep it up, and “I will be a Laker until I meet my maker.”

  29. the other Stephen November 2, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    bill walton retired from broadcasting today. i’m kind of sad that i won’t hear his voice over the tv anymore.

  30. I was at the last 2 Laker games and I can tell you that I noticed the following troubling issues with the benchguys:

    Sasha – even during shootaround, he looked like a man with something other than the game on his mind. During the game, he was getting the open looks, just not clanking a darn shot. It seems to me that when he’s on the floor with the second unit, he’s just not focused. Not sure what is happening with him. It’s a long season, so I hope he gets out of his funk.

    Farmar – Homie looks like he was put on the court with 4 new players. He passes when he should shoot and shoots when he should pass. Jordan seems to do much better when the only starters on the floor are Lamar and Bynum, but no so much when others are on the floor. Part of this is because Lamar and Bynum make his decision making easy – just pass to the starters. He seems to have issues when he has to choose among more than one starter or when his options are limited to the bench guys. Thank goodness he does not play a position that requires him to make decisions.. oh, crap. Never mind.

    walton – To me, Walton looked a bit sun burned. Yeah, I know it sounds stupid but that’s the best way I can describe how he was moving (plus his skin looked a bit red so maybe he was sunburned :-). Before Friday’s game, the Laker trainer put a large patch that looked like one of those hot-cold packs on his lower back and Walton did not take it off at all during the first half. I don’t know if it was there to start the second half but he sure played like it was there.

    Mbenga – gets an A for effort. F for offense. Same as always.

    Brown – Good, at times, offensively, but needs to be more crisp on his rotations. Got called out a few times by fellow benchmobers for missing his rotation and not challenging easy lay ups.

    Powell – Dude has the expression of a statute: emotionless. Not really a deep criticism on his play, but being emotionless does nothing to get the bench fired up during those times where it needs a bit more fire to get going.

  31. pau should rest. it gives the other players a better chance to get involved – like bynum – and see what they can do. hopefully some of the guys can focus on defense like they did in the 3q against the hawks.

    the beginning of the year is usually a slower time, so i don’t see the concern with pau yet – unless the injury is a lot more sever than what we’re being told. injuries are always a murky area as kurt suggested. but it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and gasol was pretty busy over the summer.

    artest is huge. like a football player. who wants to take the charge when he’s barrelling down the lane?

  32. off topic but did anyone else see the video from the onion about the clippers and a staples center collapse. Pure comedy gold. Its on right now.

  33. Didn’t PJ say something about it taking 6 weeks for Pau’s injury to fully, ‘truly’ heal? but that that was impossible? – My question is, why is that so impossible? I’d rather have it ‘fully’ heal than compete for HCA throughout that may not happen anyway.

    • I was in the room when Phil made the six weeks comments. It was more in a vein of “the problem is he thinks it could take up to six weeks” than it was it will take six weeks. Also, remember that every strain is by definition a tear, it’s just a matter of degree. Gasol is not comfortable playing on it, but like I said within the Lakers organization that is not the universal sentiment. I’ll let you read between the lines from there.

  34. you know, we all know what our team is like with pau on the floor, it’s practically unbeatable.
    so, when he’s out, it does give some of our other players some time on the floor.
    it give Bynum more room to work, and hopefully build his confidence.
    it gives Lo a starting role and he seems to be thriving on this.
    it gives Artest time to find his role with extended minutes.
    then there is the bench, there are some players getting burn now that will probably move down a man ot two, so let the team see if they can rise to the ocassion.
    so what if we ride out the first half of the season in second place ot where ever.
    it’s the second half that really matters, when a team starts to build momentum, and as Daurius says, (always easy to quote you man) it is about finishing strong.
    I think it might be fun to watch the team hang in the middle for the first half, then start building and finish with a great big streak rather than see a team go out strong, fight every game like it’s game 7 in the finals, then end with injuries, or just get burned out.

  35. 33, i was thinking the same thing while reading through the blog and was glad to see someone post something similar to my thoughts.
    – the only thing i would add is the thought that unlike pau sitting out because his rlentless effort for his country and his nba team ending up putting stress on his body, shaq would go the whole summer gaining weight just to come back the next season undefined and with an injury proned toe that he inevitbley needed surgery on because of the stress he’d put on it from being out of shape. (i also believe i remember seeing an interview of shaq on the lakers stating, since he get’s the opportunity to treat his body in regular season *penalty free, why not do it). Good thing those days are over and now we have a great star holding his breath until he plays again.

  36. Is it just me or does Lamar look unusually focused out there?
    He seems much more confident in his shot and he’s not making any boneheaded plays of having any major lapses out there.
    Is it just me?

  37. Muddywood, I’ve seen the same thing, though it is only a three game sample. There does seem to be a greater degree of intensity and focus from him.

  38. #10 lakergirl,

    It’s weird but i actually think that Artest is BIGGER than Howard. If you see Dwight Howard without his shirt on, he is definitely ripped, but his shoulders and arms are disproportionately big relative to everything else. He is actually very skinny, or at least a lot skinnier than he looks on TV when playing ball.

    I think Artest is definitely more solid than Howard, although Howard has the height.

    Of course Shaq Prime (shaq in his prime) makes them both look like little babies. Shaq Prime was the most incredible physical specimen i have ever seen in any sport. Although Lebron with his quickness/speed/size gives him a run for his money.

  39. Pau Gasol

    Let him rest is definitely the correct approach. The unfortunate thing with pulls is that they can linger if you attempt to return too quickly. This is the type of injury which can linger the ENTIRE year if he re-injures it again and again, which will happen if he attempts to return early.

    If you take the conservative approach with Pau, you will kill two bats with one stone. He will rest, something he needs desperately due to his hectic schedule, and he will be 100% going forward for the remainer of the season and most importantly the playoffs.

    Can you imagine what we would all be feeling if Pau was out or hurt for the playoffs?

  40. So Javaris Crittenton didn’t get his option picked up

    He has been given many more minutes with lottery teams that obviously have had opportunities available (memphis, washington) and pretty much crapped the bed given the chance

    But I wouldn’t mind taking a flier on the guy come next offseason. He was Bynum’s best friend on the team, and although I hate it when teams make that sort of signing (see: Jarret Jack for Chris Bosh) it couldn’t hurt with our terrible non-Kobe guard rotation.

    Although we probably should’ve prioritized keeping Kobe’s best friends on the team (Butler, Ariza)

  41. Not too antsy to see Pau, just wish he’s healthy and be back in time to get in playing shape.

    As far as our regular season games go, I’m willing to wait until we play a must-win game for both parties involved.

    Nuggets, Spurs, Celtics, Magic, Cavs… and Blazers.

  42. Phil just didn’t cut his finger in the kitchen, he cut the tip of it completely OFF:

    re: Odom’s focus – in our 2 wins he was on top of his game, but as others have noted against the Mavs he got too geeked to stick it to Dirk 1v1 and lost track of the team concept on offense. Hopefully that just an aberration.

  43. Yeah, some of the Lakers personnel may think that him playing all summer may have helped to cause this injury, and that he should be playing no matter what for the team that is paying him to play professionally. I said before and still feel, just let him take the month of November off. It will do Bynum good to feel the pressure of not being able to get stupid fouls and can be replaced very easy. I do love DJ, but the less he plays, the happier I am in close tough games.

  44. On the question of Artests shooting:

    I was following the Rockets closely last year, and Artests shooting with his feet set was throughout the year pretty damn good.

    Only thing keeping his shooting percentage “down” was his steady trickle of “saving the team” wild fade away jumpers of the dribble. These were horrible shots.

    The guy was a good passer and great spot up shooter throughout the year, but if cast in a role as go-to guy he will fail.

    (Which eventually became the Rockets´ undoing against the Lakers in PO, as they ran out of go-to guys)

  45. The Laker medical staff doesn’t have the greatest reputation in the world about injuries – treatment and prevention. For that I think I would consult the Suns staff.

    In this case I think I would side with Gasol.

  46. I understand people not being too worried about Kobe’s roaming on defense, but I have to question Phil Jackson for not making him accountable for it. Kobe has the ability to stay in front of guys and lock them down but for some reason he doesn’t and I think it’s because he is not being held accountable. I remember last year when Kobe and Ariza had a stupid bet on who would end up leading the team in steals which hurt us.

    Also, people will disagree with me on this, but Kobe is having a bad start to the season. He cannot hit a stand still jumper. He obviously worked on his post game this season which looks good, but other than a late 3 pointer in the Dallas game, he has not made one jumper aside from his turnaround. People will look at his points and think he is having a good game, but he really got all those points off of free throws and break away dunks. Am I the only one who doesn’t think he deserves the MVP chant everytime he goes to the line?

  47. 52 utter blasphemy there, it sucks. but its true
    all will be fine when gasol returns, or even better, have a team that can be elite without pau, once pau returns. just read it again, sorry 😀

  48. sorry, that was on rudy.

  49. 54) If scoring 41 points off free throws, turnarounds, and breakaway dunks doesn’t earn you MVP chants, take away Lebron’s MVP trophy from last year. While you’re at it, take away all of MJ’s MVP awards as well. That’s how athletic perimeter players dominate games.

    And as for the “stupid bet that hurt us”, I recall a couple of steals helping us a ton last year. Hopefully Kobe and Artest have the same kind of friendly competition going this year. Steals are a good thing, and Kobe was not the source of our only real defensive weakness: the pick and roll.

  50. the sky isn’t falling chicken little(s)

  51. If Kobe’s stupid bet hurt us all the way to a Championship, then i want more bets.

  52. question about the hammy: if the treatment is the same regardless of the MRI results, why do the MRI? Is it just so that we have a definitive timetable for Pau? Or maybe there’s a suspicion it could be a ligament issue? Or maybe its just a measure for the organization to use as leverage to get Pau on the court and earn his paycheck. I’m in the camp that’s all for Pau resting, but I’d like to know that the MRI results aren’t scary.

  53. Listen, in the beginning of the season last year it was documented that Phil Jackson made it public he wasn’t happy about that bet and how it was effecting the play of their defense always gambling putting our bigs in bad situations.

    Travis – “that’s how athletic perimeter players dominate games” may be correct against mediocre teams, but it is a fact that MJ didn’t win titles until he got a jump shot and if you say LeBron hasn’t drastically improved his jumper than you’re just hating. Kobe has struggled with his jump shot through the first couple games, bottomline. It is either championship or bust for the Lakers and if I seem too critical it is because I see the bigger picture. Sure you can get away with getting a bunch of steals and breakaways against the Clippers and the Hawks, but against the elite teams (Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Denver, San Antonio) the Lakers will have to be better defensively and Kobe will have to make jump shots.

  54. The LA times is reporting that Kobe has flu-like symptoms and may be out tonight. Phil thinks he’ll play through it.

    I agree that Kobe has not been his usual self in these early games. My hope it doesn’t mean anything more than that and it’s just a temporary side-effect of his new post workout/game. Hopefully he’ll return to form soon.

  55. All starters in the plus column, all bench players in the minus. Is this a pattern for this team? I hope not. If so, I hope Kupchack tries to get some bench support come trade deadline.