Artest Is Doing Things Big and Little

Kurt —  November 11, 2009

NBA Basketballgrizzlies@lakers
Thursday night against the Suns, the Lakers will have Andrew Bynum back in the lineup (no Pau Gasol yet, but people Phil was joking about Christmas), which means we can expect a healthy dose of Kobe in the post, Bynum in the post, Lamar Odom on the boards and — hopefully — continued solid bench play.

But the key to it all may be Ron Artest. To this point, Artest has blended in with the Lakers better than even Shin Shin could have hoped. It was expected on the defensive end, but on offense he is starting to really find his way. To get an idea why, I rewatched some recent games and focused on Artest, plus looked at some numbers.

Here are a few highlights.

• Artest leads the Lakers in +/- so far this season — LA is outscoring opponents by 13.5 points per 48 minutes when Artest is on the floor. LA is being outscored by opponents by 20.2 points per 48 minutes when Artest is NOT on the floor. That is a 33 points per 48 minutes swing he is creating.

• He is relentless. He hustles when others slack. A simple example: Remember the first play of the Hornets game, where New Orleans won the tap and Kobe stole the ball from Devin Brown out high and had a virtual break away dunk? Artest was the only Laker to get back down for a potential rebound. Nobody else runs after Kobe on a breakaway (because, well, why would you?) but Artest did.

• He makes good entry passes (this came up time and again in the video). With no Gasol (or Bynum of late) the Lakers are posting up Kobe a lot more, which puts Artest on the wing. He did not come here with the reputation of a good passer, but Ron makes smart, well placed entry passes to the post. With how often the Lakers plan to go to the post this season, that is no little thing.

• He finds the open man and makes the extra pass. Remember Fisher’s buzzer-beater to end the first half against the Hornets? Assist from Artest who had a man running out on him (Fish was totally wide open, like any receiver running through the Notre Dame secondary, damn Charlie Weis). Then with 1:45 left in the third quarter against the Hornets, Artest drove the lane from the top of the key and when the defense collapsed he made an impressive “hook pass” over his head to a wide open Luke Walton for the corner three. He shows court vision and awareness.

• To sum up those last two notes: 18% of the possessions Artest uses end in an assist, a great number for a forward.

• He is getting his shots at the rim or from three. He is taking 4.3 threes per game (and shooting 36.7% so far). He is getting 3.4 shots per game at the rim (and shooting 50%). He has shown some midrange game, but that is not where the shots are coming from at this point, he is attacking the rim or finding places he likes to spot up. Both good things.

• He has held opposing small forwards to 31.5% shooting (eFG%),

• The Lakers offense is 14.4 points per 48 minutes better when he is on the floor, the defense is 21.1 points per 48 better when he is on the floor. Bottom line, both ends of the court are better for the Lakers when Artest plays.

Kurt

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62 responses to Artest Is Doing Things Big and Little

  1. Great post, Kurt! Ron’s 3pt shooting is probably better than his 36%, at this point in the year.

    You have to take into account that at the beginning of the year he was ice cold from behind the arc while he was finding his way. In October, he shot a ghastly 22%, but in November, he’s seemed to find his spots better in the tri, and is shooting a much improved 43%.

    Here’s hoping that 43% is more indictive of Ron’s shooting from behind the arc for the rest of the season. That would be a fantastic percentage for him to shoot for the year from 3pt land.

    By the way, Ariza is going the opposite direction in Houston. After a torrid start (i.e. before teams got the book on how to play him), Ariza was shooting 52% from 3pt land, and 50%, overall.

    In November, he’s shooting 37% from 3pt land, and a distressing 34%, overall.

  2. I vaguely remember an ESPN column where Bill SImmons did his season preview and railed gleefully about what disaster Artest would be and how hilarious it was that Laker fans seemed to think he would be an improvement from Ariza… whether that last is true or not we have too small a sample size to know yet.

    However, I think it’s safe to say that during the first two weeks of the season Ron has completely failed to live up to any doomsday prophecies about either his temper or his ego. If anything I think the person who commented in the past thread Ron seems to love playing with someone else who is as intense as he is (wondahbap? Zephid?), may have hit it home.

    If the biggest problems in his past were because Ron was furious that no one else on the team competed as hard or as seriously as he did, he’ll be right at home with Kobe and the Lakers. And if not… well, the season is long, and lots of things can happen.

  3. Ron has been a 38-39% three point guy the last few years, my guess is he ends up there or a little higher (because of the quality of looks he gets).

  4. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing Artest on the Lakers.

  5. A good Artest post on how he is helping the Lakers this year. I hope this continues, as he is looking better and better as he gets a feel for his teammates, so I feel his positives will increase. The only thing negative that I noticed was his FT%, it is down like 20% from the previous years, but this is a small sample size of 7 games in those stats. Lot’s of love for the man here, I was getting happier and happier as I was reading this post.

    “Where there is love there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi

  6. Definitely great post Kurt. Love seeing breakdowns like this to get a real feel of overall contribution. I was from the camp of didn’t want him but will support him now that he’s a Laker. But I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how hard he’s worked to blend in properly. I’m loving the results and your examples are show how he’ll help the team be more effective on both ends.

    The less mid range game from him the better I think. It means that he’s not trying to create by dribbling which I feel is a weakness for him. He’s better off spotting up or posting.

    Part of me is still holding my breath for a possible catastrophe, but I’m hoping that even when he gets emotional, he’ll have it under control just like the Houston game.

    If he’s a 38-9% guy from the arc, is it too much to hope that he can be a consistent 40%? If he could do that, it would be awesome to have that kind of threat to give even more space for everyone else.

  7. Pau on the hamstring injury: http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/091111practicereport.html

    (Apologies for the off-topic.)

  8. One of the standard Phil Jackson criticisms is that he doesn’t develop talent – I don’t really think that’s true, but regardless, one of the things I think PJ and his staff are superb at doing is putting players in a position to succeed by doing what they already do well. There was a recent quote from Kobe to that effect, talking about Mbenga & Powell, and I think that’s going on on a higher level with Artest.

    Credit to Artest for working hard out there, but I think you have to also give the coaching staff some credit for slotting him in so effectively within the system. We know he’s a player that PJ has coveted for some time, so I’ll bet he already had a good idea of how he wanted to utilize his skills once he joined the squad.

  9. I’ve thought since preseason that it was clear he was intent on making post passes. I figured it was because that’s the most basic part of our offense that he could pick up and execute without needing a lot of experience. And its a skill this team can’t get enough of. Remember last year how often all of us griped that the team needed to get the ball into Pau more? Artest should help that once we get Pau back.

    And on defense, he really shows off how its meant to be done. Makes Kobe’s free safety thing both more frustrating and less damaging at the same time. In addition to the plain +/- numbers for this year, it’s worth checking out the differences from some of last year’s numbers. Jump shooters are shooting 3% eFG worse against us this year, and that’s easily where teams get most their points from.

    On the other hand, Ariza is averaging 20 4 and 4 in Houston on 16 shots. A lot of people (me included) worried this “trade” may have hurt both teams. So far looks like the opposite is true.

  10. RE: #7

    Phil’s quote from the practice report:

    “Jackson: We always say let’s not put anything out there that’s futuristic, or we’ll just get disappointed. (Gasol) is very disappointed right now. Most hamstrings you actually see bleeding, or bruises or holes in the hamstring, but his has just been one of those things we (weren’t concerned with) that has turned into a month-long injury.”

    Sounds like Phil still thinks Pau should be out there playing…I’m just saying.

    By the way, I think you’re right Kurt – Artest’s looks are going to be better in the tri (from 3pt range), so theoretically, his percentage should be higher than his career average.

    I think 42%-45% from 3pt range is an attainable goal for him. And it would be absolutely fantastic for the Lakers.

  11. RE: #9

    Check out Ariza’s last few games – check out his shooting percentage & the number of shots he’s taking. He had a torrid start, but teams are starting to figure out how to defend him.

    He’s not a lead guy – he’s a terrific role player who’s been cast as a lead guy in Houston.

  12. 10- Ariza is still shooting something like 43% on 3 pointers though… without anybody demanding a double team.

    Yeah he still has inefficent games, most notably against the Lakers, but he’s also being asked to shoot with less conscience than ever before. I doubt you’ll find many Rockets fans willing to criticize his efficiency.

  13. #10, I’ve been sayin’ for a while that there is a difference of opinion in Staples Center hallways about the severity of this injury.

  14. Kurt,
    Great post on Artest… as you know I never was concerned about how he would fit in. I was more concerned on his declining athleticism.

    Re: Gasol… I was feeling the same way and then once you started hinting some in the organization felt he should be playing I was sold. People can say all they want that “hamstring injuries are tricky”… but All the hamstring injuries I have seen heal within 3 weeks. And those are sever ones. But why would Gasol not want to play? Or is he just a wimp?

  15. If Gasol was a wimp the Lakers wouldn’t have rings. I don’t know what’s going on, but don’t see the value in alienating the second best player on a championship team when you’re 6-1.

  16. Great post. Two comments.

    1. Artest has been finding ways to take his 3s closer to the top of the key, as opposed to the sidelines which in principle should be easier but in practice he just doesn’t shoot well. Early on he tried a few ugly sideline threes.

    2. Ron does feed the post responsibly, but some of his entry passes are real high floaters, which either get deflected or cause the post to come out farther to get. Should work on that.

    3. Dunking seems nontrivial to Ron at this age and weight.

    Otherwise, I am ecstatic with Ron’s progress. He has a real awkwardness to his game, but he makes good things happen. It’s just gravy that he has been the rock of the second unit.

  17. Great point about the entry passing of Artest. It truly is an underrated skill but it is extremely important when your offense is predicated around getting the ball to a dominant post player. It was one of the many reasons why Rick Fox and Robert Horry were such good fits for the early decade Lakers; they were terrific entry passers.

    At the time of the Ariza/Artest “trade,” I was reluctant to get too excited because I felt like Ariza was the better fit for the Lakers. However, had I known that Ron would be bringing some quality entry passing to the table, I would have felt a lot better. Ariza’s poor entry passing was something that REALLY bothered me.

  18. We don’t need Gasol yet, I maintain that we, as last year’s champions, need some sense of urgency drilled into the rest of the roster (Kobe and Artest with his big chip excluded).

    As for the addition of Artest over Ariza, I think the Gasol & Bynum injuries are inflating his value a bit.

    Ariza was the kind of a player we need when we’re at full strength and firing at all cylinders. The guy who can play his role for a championship team, but can also provide sparks that you just can’t plan for. Sort of like Shannon Brown – bundle of explosive youth on an otherwise veteran team (I know Bynum and Pau aren’t really old, but they don’t scream explosiveness).

    Artest, on the other hand, is a player we’d love to have now, since he is a versatile defender who can be asked to fill gaps in our front, just like Pau did when Bynum went down. We could never dream of asking Ariza to guard the 4 (he suffered against strong 3s) but we can do that with Artest. Also, since we are asking him to use his strength, we require less of the explosiveness that Ariza brought.

    In a way, the ‘exchange’ actually played out well for both teams. Artest on Houston would have been tough to handle, and Ariza on ours would not have helped cover the holes created by Pau and Bynum’s absence.

    But once we are back at full strength, I think the Lakers will miss Ariza a bit more, while Houston will appreciate him more. And that’s not counting the possibility of an Artest explosion, which, however mild, will be overreacted upon by both the media and the league causing a greater distraction – plus this is L.A!

    Still, nothing changes the fact that we signed Artest and the Rockets signed Ariza. So I’m glad that Artest is doing well, and I hope that he really showcases his defensive skills against the league’s top SFs to make me feel really, really good about him being a Laker.

  19. J.D.
    Phil in the past has often called out and publicly criticized top players on his teams. Usually players he didn’t feel were tough enough… like Horace Grant on his old Bulls teams. Gasol might fall into this category now. Last year it was Bynum and at times Odom. This year so far it has been Gasol. And Gasol is many things… but tough has never been one of them. It doesn’t mean he isn’t one heck of a ball player though.

  20. This post brought a huge smile to my face. I am rooting for the guy. It’s Hollywood, we love stories of redemption. It is waaaaay early though, so we’ll see how he does over time.

    One thing that I think Artest uniquely brings to the team is the ability to make Kobe better. Obviously Pau and Lamar help the team a ton – but I think Ron’s presence both on D and on O specifically gives Kobe a new level of freedom and of security. I think Ron’s presence is part of the reason for Kobe’s stellar work in the post.

  21. Sorry to nitpick but LA is outscoring opponents by 13.5 points per 48 minutes when Artest is on the floor, not 33 points as you state.

    Interestingly, LA is being outscored by opponents by 20.2 points per 48 minutes when Artest is NOT on the floor.

    The 33 points stat you note is the net difference between these two.

    I think the -20.2 figure without Artest is even more impressive than the + 13.5 (compare to Kobe’s -4.7 next best on the team).

    None of this changes your basic point (which is why I admitted to nitpicking). These stats basically say that the Lakers are really good with Artest, and REALLY bad without him.

    Feel free to correct me if I’ve misread the stats at 82games.

  22. Lol i cant believe anyone would havr anything negative to say abt gasol. This hamstring injury can be a great blessing in disguise. We got to see an early look at Bynum this season. More kobe in the post and once Bynum and gasol were both out our backup bigs that no one including myself had faith in stepped it up and are holdin down the fort. The longer Gasol rests the stronger hes gonna return. For now sit back and enjoy the wins… If they start losing… Than complain.

  23. Vicken, you are right and I should clarify that. And will. I knew what I meant but….

  24. I thought this bit of info from the sports injury expert helped to explain a little (for me anyways) about Pau’s injury and timing…

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2009/11/10/1125511/will-carroll-on-the-gasol-injury

    I don’t understand the rush to get him back on court when we are doing fine without him. It’s good practice and experience for Bynum and makes everyone else (especially Lamar) step up to account for the loss of Pau’s contribution. I think it’s good for the team overall that they don’t rush him back and reinjure it. No complacency, especially with this teams past bad habits.

  25. ESPN has taken the same quotes we’ve gotten from all the local outlets here and turned it into Jackson saying Pau will be out until Christmas:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4646071

    strange.

  26. “He fills up the stat-line”

    Often said about Walton, with his frequent “almost” triple-doubles. Then when Odom came around, well, he Really filled up that stat line with even more of those 9 rebound – 8 points – 6 assist games.

    Artest is now another. Glue guys, hustle guys, do-it-all guys, whatever you call it. Having 3+ guys like that on a team usually smells like playoff success.

  27. I know… very funny. Phil was making fun of Gasol being slow to get back on the court and ESPN and the AP has taken him seriously. Classic.

  28. holy crap! i was watching the cavs/magic game and just heard the gasol news and rushed here to see if there was any truth to it.

    hopefully, it really isnt that bad and its just phil trying to get pau to come back already.

  29. 26 – I saw that, flipped out, then went online and did some responsible research. Now i’m feeling better, no thanks to the WWL

  30. If you just read Jackson’s quote, and don’t think about his style and inflections, and just take it at face value, that is how you get actual Christmas. But just watch the video and it’s clear he is joking and tweaking Pau a little. Man, it’s obvious.

  31. With PJ jabbing Pau, what is it that he hopes to accomplish with these off hand comments. Does he think this will make Pau work harder to return? I dont get the mind games he is playing with the press. If Gasol is truly frustrated by not playing, Phil must see something else that makes him think otherwise.

  32. Cool, Pau’s first game back will be against Cleveland and they will not have any scouting reports on the Lakers with him in the mix. Guranteed Christmas day win against the Cavs…

  33. the other Stephen November 11, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    we’ve been saying a lot of “games in november are not as important games late in the season.” a corollary would be, if we can keep playing at a winning or otherwise decent level until christmas while giving pau enough time to recover, why not do so? this team doesn’t have to prove anything. such a timetable would still leave the players ample time to adjust to the rotations. i don’t identify with this pau-hysteria. for the last time, i’d rather see this team dazzle down the stretch than see it huff and puff the entire season.

  34. Guys, always see the brighter side of things… you have been so used to the “sky is falling” era of the Lakers… didn’t you recall it ended last year?

    This is just Phil’s way of saying: Pau get some rest, make Bynum an All-Star, give Ron more touches, give Kobe MVP numbers and come back in December when your “rest” is over.

    Imagine if we could be 9-1 without the Big Spaniard… we’d be like 11 to -1 with him.

  35. Off topic but I love the Lakers bias in Philippine national tv…

    I only missed 2 games so far (Grizzlies and Thunder)… and TV sked already has this:

    Phoenix – Star Sports
    @Denver – CS9
    Houston – CS9
    Detroit – x
    Chicago – Star Sports

    I’ve seen 5 of 7 games so far, and will be 9 of 12 overall once this 5-gm stretch ends. Wooohooo !!!!

  36. Watching Suns/NO game, I see that Nash adjust his hair during the game like Sasha did last year. Maybe Sasha was using the wrong tuck technique, its looks as though Nash tucks his hair behind his ears and has no hair band. If only Sasha could have waited on the hair cut and just watched tape of Nash’s tuck, he might have actually picked up some skills and a tuck lesson.

  37. Artest is the new Rodman for this Lakers team. I can imagine how the other teams would just cringe at the thought of facing the Lakers in a 7-game series.

    Can you imagine just Kobe and Artest jutting their jaws out, together? That is worth 10 points already.

  38. DirtySanchez, Sasha opted to ‘nip’ his hair instead of tucking it.

    Anyway, as a result(?) Sharapova landed on him, so power to him. Unless we find out that Sasha is closer to Samson and lack of hair sort of acts like Sasha’s Samsonite… err Kryptonite.

  39. My thoughts on Artest:

    -Look at that picture. When we were getting mauled by Pierce, Melo, Lebron, back in the day (esp. back in the Radman day), I was praying someone with that physique would don the purple and gold. When’s the last time we’ve had a wing defender that powerful? Rick Fox? And he’s got nothing on Artest.

    -“He is relentless. He hustles when others slack.” That’s exactly what I’ve been feeling. Beyond the passing and all the surprises, I love the intensity he brings. We’ve finally found our version of KG, with the sheer effort he brings every night. I was actually shocked when I saw the way Artest went after rebounds against Houston, I can’t remember any Laker being that ferocious (except Lamar twice a year).

    Just love this dimension he’s added to our team.

  40. Damn, Phoenix is killing!

  41. The truth is that we are depending on Artest. Don’t all freak out but he is a leader in his own way. With each game, his game syncs up with the Laker game. He is starting to make other people better.

    He is filling a lot of roles – rebounder, defender, playmaker, Kobe protector, offensive leader of the bench mob – many more roles than we could have gotten from Ariza.

  42. I know this is totally unrelated, but I had just had to put this out there:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=173777477946&ref=mf

    Lets get DJ into the Allstar game!

  43. If you can, cast a vote for the Lakers to make NBA fan night so we can watch an extra game:

    http://www.nba.com/nbatv/

  44. Suns are killing the Hornets right now… my goodness this club is for reals.

  45. I dont think anyone is saying Gasol is a wimp. I highly doubt anyone of us would want to see him rushed back. But the point here is that it just seems like there is some internal beef in the Lakers org. I brought this up 2 posts ago and i almost got chewed out. The lakers think he is good to go but he doesnt think so. Plus there is also a part of paying someone to do his job. So I think to an extent they have a right to demand he gets back to the court as soon as medically possible. Just cos he helped us win a championship doesnt mean he get a pass to do whatever.

    We are 6-1 and thats good but we are going to need him sooner than later to see how our offense would function with the addition of Artest and Kobes post game.

  46. Nash forgot that Hill is about as old as he is already… LOL.

  47. @36 Warren, it’s the same thing here in Taiwan – the Star Sports/ESPN schedule for NBA games (yes, all teams) basically looks like the Lakers’ schedule, with some Cleveland and Boston and Orlando sprinkled here and there. Hilarious. They would show Lakers vs. Grizzlies over Boston vs. Cleveland.

  48. Snoopy: Do you happen to have a link to the second part of the “why do advanced stats hate kobe” article?

  49. good read, that analysis. but Kobe does go for highlights (roaming off to get steals), and he can indeed be quite inefficient at times with his TOs… and very inefficient with the kind of shots he takes at times.

    but the thing is, if you have a guy who can convert 20% of all his shots when other guys would have 10%, he’ll end up with a lot of 20% shots, especially if the opposition forces your team into taking those 10% shots.

    much of it is kinda self-inflicted (by Kobe sometimes looking to get his despite) but there are enough times when it is sorta ‘forced’ to him. Just doesn’t look like he’s ‘forced’ to shoot because he understands that at that moment, there’s no better alternative.

  50. @Aaron Don’t underestimate how a small hamstring strain can turn into a long protracted fight to regain fitness and strength.

    I’m a fairly active person; run 35-45 miles a week, soccer, and some ultimate here and there. I strained my hamstring playing ultimate. I went to see the doctor (sports medicine) that had taken care of my friend when he strained his groin (the guy was good).

    He told me that it was a minor strain, should be fine in 3-4 weeks. So I rested, eventually went through some rehab to get some strength back. And then, it seemed like every time I was working back to up to full strength and fitness, I would have another setback. And a minor strain, grade I, turned into a five month recovery process.

    It has nothing to do with being a wimp, and everything to do with a good diagnosis and a little luck in your rehab.

  51. I am one that wanted Ron de una dia. Not for Lamar, but man how sweet an addition it would it be..? And then we won the championship. And then we got Ron – at the expense of Trev. But I see it as TA getting a chance to spread his wings, do his thing. And then, hey, who says he can’t come back to the Lakers later to help win some more rings.

    For the time being, I’m loving Ron as a Laker. To me, he + our team standing is the most dominant force since the late 90s Bulls.

    Anyways, GO Lakers – continue the streak. Slow the place, body Nash at will..Keep a steady eye on JRich and don’t let Hill spot up. Feed Bynum & Kobe appropriately and we should come out alright.

  52. “I am one that wanted Ron de una dia.”

    Assuming you just translated “from day one” into Spanish… close but not quite correct. :)

    You should have said, “I am one that wanted Ron desde el primer dia.”

    Regarding what I said the other day about Pau, I have to stand behind it. Not that I pretend to chew out anybody. Sorry if that was the impression, Lakergirl. I was just being passionate about my fellow Spaniard. I could be wrong, sure, I am not Pau Gasol nor I know him personally.

    But to think that he is taking revenge for not being allowed to rest more during training camp or pretending the injury to be worst than it actually is, for someone who has shown such dedication and commitment to the sport, always behaved with dignity and honesty wherever he has been, would be so shocking. I mean we are talking Pau Gasol here. He’s like a boy scout, a role model of professionality for the sport of basketball. I just can’t believe those allegations.

    I’m just trying to look at it from a simpler perspective. OK. So, some at the Lakers camp, including Phil Jackson, are kind of hinting Pau should play through the pain and show he is not soft? Is this the issue being discussed here? About that, I don’t know. I mean, if Phil Jackson asked ME to jump on a court and play for the Lakers with severed bleeding limbs and paid me millions of dollars to do so I would be painting the Staples center red every night. You catch my drift.

    Jokes aside, I believe Pau Gasol is truly injured, in pain, and scared of aggravating his injury as it already happened in the past weeks. In other words, he is placing his health, his mental confidence in his own body and with it the real interests of the Lakers (who need him healthy for 2010) ahead of any mind gaming fantasies or nonsense of the kind. In doing that, he is again proving to be a true professional. It is easy to be carried away and let our desire to see him now take the best of us. But it’s a long season. Playoff this year is going to be a battlefield. Boston is strong and so is Cleveland. We need all our weapons, including Pau.

  53. 48. DTC – Here we also have CS9 which is almost dedicated to every possible Laker game falling on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday… and we also have BTV channel which shows us almost every non-Laker game.

    I do agree about ESPN and STAR… they show Boston, Cleveland and Orlando alot…

  54. 46. I don’t think its just Pau. He is paid to win championships.. Kobe sells the jerseys and tickets.. Pau’s job is to be in shape come may. He’s played every summer for the past 3-4 years or so? Even as an owner you wouldn’t want him to play if he wasn’t 100%. Hamstring injuries are very persistent.. not the kind you wanna rush back from.. So I’m pretty sure it isn’t just Pau who doesn’t want Pau to play.

    Plus I think the extra minutes is helping Bynum’s development.. the only place it hurts us is the bench cause Odom starts at PF instead..

  55. New post up, Bill Bridges does a game preview breakdown of the Suns.

  56. Let’s try not to get into the “Pau is a wuss! no he’s a tough guy!” discussion again…

    First of all because anyone who watched the play-offs last season should know the answer to that question, and second of all because it’s not relevant. If you go out and try to play 100% while injured, then you may be tough, but you’re also an idiot, and Pau Gasol certainly is not stupid. Nor is he immature or unprofessional, and any Laker fan that has been paying attention to him over the past year really should know that.

    Watch his eyes when the camera passes him during the fourth quarter tonight. He wants to be out there and play, but if he can’t, he shouldn’t try. We can think whatever we want about that, but if we want to repeat last year’s trophy ceremony, the last thing we should want is for Pau to return as soon as possible. We should want him to fully heal, no matter how long it takes.

    (Psst… don’t insult the Europeans. We might bicker and insult each other every chance we get, but we tend to stick together against outsiders. ;) )

  57. “That is a 33 points per 48 minutes swing he is creating.”

    To be fair, he’s out there with the A squad. Most of those guys have high +/-. The bench was struggling at the start of the season. Artest may be doing well, but those numbers reflect playing with the starters vs playing with the bench.

    Good to see he’s fitting in.

  58. Abom, actually Phil has been using Artest to help calm the second unit a lot, then resting him later in quarters when the starters come back in.

  59. I resisted the urge for so long but..TOLD YOU SO!!!

    One of the many things I cited in Artest as a positive was a) he is a much better career 3-point threat than Ariza and more importantly..

    I’ve seen Kobe and Artest be interviewed together many, many times. The respect Artest has for Kobe is real, it’s not a gimmick or any type of hyperbole. He really does respect him.

    Most importantly, I’ve always been a fan of Artest’s mentality. Those who have followed his career will tell you- he works extremely hard, almost Kobe-esque. And while is a hot head, it is largely seen through a 100x microscope because of ’04.

  60. Mimsy you are missing the point. No one is questioning his toughness or his smarts or lack thereof. There is a possiblity that Pau is good to go but he doesnt want to for whatever reason. Some speculation out there is that he wanted time off but didnt get it from the lakers. So just cos he is European and he is dedicated to the sport doesnt mean that he is not just taking time off, he is human. Besides i doubt anyone is calling Gasol out or insulting him cos he is European.