To Rest or Not To Rest, That Is The Question

Kurt —  November 15, 2009
Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Game 1 NBA Western Conference finals in Los Angeles

If you have not seen the news, Kobe Bryant has a strained right groin, something he first got against New Orleans and aggravated in his poor shooting game against Houston.

Groin injuries, like hamstring injuries, can tend to linger. And it brings us to a philosophical question in dealing with these injuries during the season: Is it better to play through them or rest them?

Pau Gasol, who may return to practice with the team this week, has been slow and cautious, wanting things to be 100% and resting until he can get back to that level. Kobe Bryant just played through it, as he would injuries to his shooting hand that many would get surgery for, and the result was an off shooting night. He says he is not missing any games.

Honestly, I don’t know the answer and I’m not sure there is a one-size-fits-all answer. It should vary from player to player, injury to injury. But how it is dealt with impacts the Lakers early this season, and if it lingers it could impact the Lakers for a long time to come.

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One note on the ugliness that was the loss to Houston. There were a lot of factors that went into the loss, but terrible outside shooting was at the top of the list. Houston is the second team in a row now to adjust and try to take away the Lakers low-post game with Kobe and Bynum by double teaming and working to deny entry passes. Doing that should lead to open looks from the perimeter, and the Lakers got them but did nothing with them. To borrow a Chickism, Fisher could not throw a pea in the ocean, but that did not stop him from thowing peas. There was a clamoring for others to take his minutes, but the combo of Farmar/Brown/Vujacic was 4 of 13 from the outside. Nobody was stepping up and making shots.

But that was just one of many problems for the Lakers last night.

Kurt

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37 responses to To Rest or Not To Rest, That Is The Question

  1. Phil Jackson has to bench Kobe for awhile, otherwise he will keep playing injured the rest of the year. His injury was not the only reason for his bad shooting, but I imagine it will not improve (FG%), as long as he plays with this injury to his groin muscle, and it drags on for months and months. Yeah, our #1 and #2 options HAVE to be healthy in June, whatever it takes for that to happen.

    ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’ – Theodore Roosevelt

  2. Groins if anything are more worrisome than hamstrings. Anyone remember 1989?

    Lakers need to be very cautious on Kobe. We’ve seen now that Boston isn’t invincible and Cleveland, Orlando, Denver, and San Antonio all have their flaws. It is vital that Kobe and Pau be 100% for the playoffs and I would give up best record in the NBA for that.

  3. If Kobe were shot, would he still play? Probably yes haha.

  4. I am not sure the Lakers could force Kobe not to play, but Phil can be very strict with him.

    With all the talk about how good we were, we certainly aren’t very deep – apparently. The thing that bothers me is that our depth seems to be in players we have had for a while, not new minimum contracts that have to learn the triangle.

    The real problem with Lamar starting is his insistence on making passes into traffic or the length of the court. These are his weaknesses and one would think he would be able to work on them; but, he doesn’t and has proven that he apparently can’t. It is sad to see a minor role player’s head in a superstar’s body. I don’t think he has a strategic bone in him – all instinctive reaction.

    No, this game didn’t swing on Lamar, but when he is in the 2nd unit we are so much better – both in the value it adds to our bench and the mistakes it takes away from our starters.

  5. Only a matter of time before the Kobe fan-boys flood the site and use his groin as an excuse for his performance today.

  6. There’s ample evidence that Kobe is a fast healer, so I don’t see the problem with letting him play through it. (At some point in his career, this may cost him, but it hasn’t so far.) Gasol tried to play though his injury (or come back too soon), and that didn’t work, which is why the he’s taking it slow now.

    When Gasol does come back, we should have substantially better interior passing, and something besides perimeter shooting to fall back on when teams put eight in the box to take away the run.

    So far this season, it seems like Kobe is spending _every_ possession fighting hard for post position. I’m not sure whether he’s doing that because Gasol is out, or just because he’s trying to learn how to do it, but it seems like it would be better all around if he didn’t have to carry that kind of load.

  7. Kobe is supposed to do what he’s gotta do. Even if it means setting teammates up… but how is he gonna do it without his effectivity in scoring? Or when opponents know he is on one leg?

    I’m pretty sure he is still better than most guys with 2 legs… but the guy needs to take it easy.

  8. The 60-38 rebounding disparity really speaks to a lack of effort on the Lakers’ part. Blame fatigue, altitude, back-to-backs, injuries, whatever – to this observer from the 300-level, it just seemed like the Rockets (and Denver on Friday) wanted the game more and played harder.

    The team’s approach in the 3rd quarter of ignoring a relatively effective Bynum has become habitual. I’m sure the coaches are reminding the players to feed the post but, for whatever reason, they’re not.

    Vujacic and Farmar still seem very immature in their decision-making.

    I’ll leave it to Kurt to delve into the why’s of the poor defensive performance, but it’s disappointing that the team’s collective inability to defend speedy point guards remains a problem.

    I suppose a 7-3 start is decent given Pau’s absence, but our failure to really compete in the second halves of our three losses this season does raise some red flags.

  9. Phil Jackson needs to use the Popovich approach – don’t worry about the regular season and ensure that your stars are healthy going into the playoffs. I say rest Kobe for however long it takes to get him back to 100%.

  10. I need a free pass on this one Kurt… I will subtly have to word it to comply though.

    Seeing our lineup on paper, we have a lineup that could easily trump the Bulls’ 72-10 record. But yet we are far from being complete… yes games in April matter more than the ones in December, but its these months that also become your “scratch paper” for your final sketch. In the end, we still value the games in November as the ones that mattered how and where we end up in June. You get the point.

    Big Men

    Its not everyday that a team can boast of two grade A centers in Gasol and Bynum. Each one would easily be the best big man of ANY team in the league (the way Bynum is playing right now its crazy). Its not even funny when you come to think of it… both guys are easy 20-10 centers on their average days…

    Cherry on top is our reserve big who could easily be the starting PF for 18 other teams in the league.

    Wing Position

    See its almost not fair for the rest of the league when you have a Kobe-Ron combo. If not for Ron’s bad rep of late, he should be racking all-D team EVERY year. You combine the fact that Kobe is the single most awesome scoring machine in NBA history, like I said, its just not fair.

    Point Guard

    I will start off with Fish. (Feel free to insert one of Aaron’s 2000 insults here.) Since hitting the biggest shots of 2009 Playoffs, and even 3 months before those 2 huge huge shots, its been clear that Fish has been slipping. Father time still proves to be undefeated and while Fish is one of the league history’s best-conditioned players, his speed and ability to defend the quicker PGs of the league have been very evident.

    The very good thing about Fish though is the fact that the guy is a pure class act. He almost has no ego to deal with and he is a very consistent presence on and off the court. Alot can be said about the Gasol heist leading to our successes this past 2 years, but no one really bothered to mention Fish’s impact on Kobe. How such a player, particularly on how much Kobe respected the guy, did the locker room wonders and instantly converted Kobe from premier ball hog to Nash-like team player.

    Enter our 2 project PGs…

    Shanwow is looking more and more like the heir with his strong play and defensive abilities… but I like to point out that he is looking more and more like a SG with a little bit of handles. But not a PG.

    Jordan Farmar is one of my favorite Lakers… but I also like him as a player whom I’d like to see succeed elsewhere. I like his speed, determination and the way he “tries” to become a leader. Kobe has already spoken of his work ethic and I believe the kid can succeed. However, it may not be here in LA.

  11. matuldi klinsmann November 16, 2009 at 6:35 am

    IMHO,after resting and healing Kobe should return to exploit wings.

  12. If comment #10 passes moderation, comment #11 might not. I won’t mind if Kurt deleted several aspects of this post.

    In relation to the premise post I just made, its clear that LA STILL needs its PG. Take out your conventional thought about “how PGs should act or play” because we are in the triangle, but PG is not just about height or position or handles, for me its about the mindset.

    A PG is the team’s general. For all intents and purposes, Fish is a very good PG. He won’t give you 11 dimes a game nor will he wow you with behind the legs/back passes, but he gets the job done. He brings the ball, he gives the ball to the man that’s supposed to get it, and from time to time, he plays D. But like the previous post suggests, its the physical aspect of the game that’s been lacking as of late.

    Jordan Farmar has it, but he doesn’t get it. Alot can be attributed to one’s “limitations” because of the system, but by now he SHOULD have grabbed the starting role from DFish and not have to wait to “inherit” it. He is a very good player IMO but he just does not fit. I still think his problems are all mental as much as it is physical, but he might just have worn out his welcome.

    Shannon Brown, once again, is NOT a PG. He is a slasher whose leaping ability is out of this world but for all intents and purposes, he is a SG/SF if he only had the height.

    [edited for trade speculation]

  13. I think part of the reason kobe is refusing to sit out for this groin injury IS because gasol is still out. If gasol were back and up to speed, perhaps kobe would feel more comfortable taking a game or two off to get himself right. Adande’s piece on truehoop mentioned that the injury is bad enough that one of the Rockets coaches mentioned that kobe’s gait was significantly different. Hopefully gasol coming back will let kobe relax and pace himself as he seemed to do last season.

    That being said, I don’t necessarily think that gasol coming back is going to be a magical salve. It will probably help the rebounding issue. The offense will most likely run smoother also, but the effort does need to be there, as scot said above. getting outrebounded like that against the rockets, who lack a real center is somewhat worrisome.

  14. 12. The triangle doesn’t need a true PG, a player like WOW is sufficient

    The problem is we’ve been carrying a “sufficient” player (Fish) for as long as we’ve had Kobe and it always seems like this is the season Derek wouldn’t be able to be serviceable for us.

    The mismanaged backcourt is such a killer, I find it hard to believe we couldn’t find one above average backcourt partner for Kobe other than an aging Payton. I can live with Kareem Rush, Shaw and Sasha Vujacic as the back up 2s, but the 1/back up 1 spot has just been miserable in the Phil/Kobe era

  15. It’s a little dicey in La La Land.

    http://bit.ly/bMnMm

    The problems are mainly disciplinary and injury based at this point. There certainly isn’t a lack of talent from the 1 through 6 spots in the rotation. Maybe 7 if you count Brown. Once you get past there though, the drop off is frightening. Farmar can’t throw it off of a canoe into the lake, and Powell has the weakest offensive game around the rim in the NBA among big men. Toss in the lack of focus on getting the ball into the post where Drew overmatches pretty much every big in the league save D12, and there’s a recipe for this to continue.

  16. The Lakers are not an especially disciplined team.

    They pretty consistently depend on their “length advantage” on rebounding, rather than working for good position. Usually that is adequate, but against a team like Houston, who hustles for and fights for and works for position on every rebound, it isn’t.

    Combine that with Fisher and Kobe forcing shots, not getting the ball into Bynum enough, and lack of focus and/or effort on defense, and generally poor bench play, and you get the result of last night. The good thing is that those don’t all happen on the same night very often, the bad thing is that if you get several of those games in a row, they will lose a playoff series to a “lesser” team.

  17. Rofl, Charlotte just accepted Captain Jack from GS.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4659552

    Captain Jack, Acie Law for Raja Bell and our old pal VladRad. Curious considering Charlotte already has Gerald Wallace at the 3 and Boris Diaw at the 4.

    On second look, it’s pretty funny how Charlotte doesn’t have a single good contract on their books. Raymond Felton at 5 mil is probably the only one that’s reasonably justifiable. Otherwise, they’ve got Tyson Chandler for 2 years, 24 mil, Diaw for 3 years, 18 mil, Wallace for 4 years, 40 mil, Nazr Mohammed for 2 years, 13 mil, Desagana Diop for 4 years, 27 mil, and now Captain Jack for 4 years, 36 mil. Goes to show that we really shouldn’t complain about our teams finances; we could be much worse off.

  18. 14, I think it’s a little bit avaricious to think that we “should” be able to find a quality back-court partner for Kobe when we’ve got much more than quality players at the other 4 starting positions. Frankly, teams like Charlotte and Minnesota would probably kill for a quality player at 3 of their starting 5 positions, let alone clamoring for a 5th quality starter to complete the set.

  19. I’m not panicking about our bad weekend. It’s been said before, but all the teams in the NBA without a 2008-09 championship ring will be gunning for the Lakers. I guarantee you that every team has its Lakers matchup circled on their calendars, with some teams like Denver and Houston elevating the importance of that game even more.

    Aaron Brooks was quoted saying that last night’s game reminded him of Game 7 from last year. Ty Lawson was ready to declare Friday’s game as Ali v. Frazier. Clearly, teams will be gunning for us, and it’s really difficult from a mental standpoint to reciprocate that sort of intensity on an 82 game basis. (see Celtics, 2008-09 season as an example).

    Therefore, let’s chill out. Like the previous commentors, Phil likes to segment/regiment the season into sectors. The PG situation will be figured out, the Bigs situation will be figured out. No worries. Let the Denvers and Houstons celebrate their November victories against us. We’ll just crush them when it matters.

  20. Turiad and space cadet reunited!

  21. I meant Turiaf

  22. I could not for the life of me figure out why Bynum was not getting the ball, and why Fish seemed determined to get into an ill-fated pissing contest with Brooks. Kobe was awful, but I can live with that. W know that even on off nights Kobe can heat up, or at least we have survived bad games from him. But Fish? We cannot live with brick after brick, only encouraged by making a few. Plus he’s absolutely let Brooks have his way. Don’t double Carl Landry 16 feet out to let Brooks have an uncontested 25 ft. that he drains when he’s hot.

    Bynum should have been pissed last night. We should have rode him in the 3rd. Also, I was slightly afraid that Kobe’s early post domination might lead to what we saw the past 2 games. I’m all for Kobe in the post, but I don’t like seeing him go Pat Ewing and moving from block to block demanding the ball. It throws the offense off. There were too many turnovers that resulted in forced passes to him. In both games, Denver and Houston did a good job preventing Kobe from getting the ball in the post, and our offense was lost after that. Did we forget the triangle? Kobe himself, seemed unsure on whether to be perimeter Kobe or post Kobe, and the rest of the team followed suit in the confusion.

    I can deal with losses, but it’s very frustrating seeing very poor decision making. Shots will miss sometimes (most times if your Fish), but losing because of lack of concentration are the things to start worrying about.

    On a positive note, Bynum was great. His shit is falling with ease right now. He made it look very easy. Hayes typically gives him trouble.

  23. As so many others have pointed out, you don’t get any trophies for being the best team in the league in November. As I told my gloating Suns-fan co-workers, I don’t care if they or the Celtics win the whole month of November, as long as the Lakers win in June.

    It’s early. We are not perfect, our team is not perfect. We still have a winning record, and we have a great coach and smart players. They’ll adjust, they’ll address their issues as the season goes along.

    I remember we started out last year feeling this way, commenting and talking this way, pessimistic and concerned. We became even more pessimistic that road game in January when Kobe tripped and fell, and landed on Andrew’s knee. And then we went on that impressive February road trip and went on to win it all.

    I’m not saying that everything is fine and great and that we can continue the way things are and expect easy wins from here on. But I don’t think we need to be worried about the season as a whole yet.

  24. 17

    don’t forget radman for 8 mil.. (tho they just let him go.. )

  25. Speaking from my own personal experience with groin strains, I would 100% have Kobe rest. If anyone can play through it, it’s Kobe – but why risk it? These things linger in a horrible, horrible way. They’d take away the lower body strength he’d need to post up. And if he compensates by favoring one side, over time that misalignment can lead to much more serious conditions that could shelve him for long periods of time.

    It’s early in the season, there’s no surgery needed, a couple weeks rest is best in this case.

    I thought Warren nailed it head-on. He articulated exactly what I’ve been feeling about Shannon Brown. I love the kid and want him to be the heir, but I don’t get the that PG feel from him. No, our triangle PG doesn’t have to be even close to traditional – but they have to be the floor leader and general. That’s why Sasha (even when he could shoot and defend) was less effective than Farmar at the backup 1. Brown hasn’t shown that je-ne-sais-quoi, that floor leadership, that even the triangle PG needs.

  26. The bad perimeter shooting to me seemed like it was because the rhythm of the shots wasn’t there. Whenever the pass came out to a guy in rhythm, it went down. When the entry pass wasn’t there and guys decided to shoot, it was more tentative, or dribbled into (Shannon Brown has picked up some PUJOD tendencies).

    The most disturbing thing I saw last night was when the Lakers couldn’t get the ball into Drew for a few possessions in the third, his effort plunged. He didn’t rebound as hard and jogged back in defense leading to some easy scores in the critical stretch when they got their lead. Then when they forced it into him he hadn’t eaten in a while and tried to go against double teams. He did manage to score a couple of times there, but at that point of the game the team needed to go into him to establish a quality offensive possession, not because it was his turn. That lack of quality offensive possessions is what haunted us.

    If Kobe’s going to be hampered with this injury, I’d like to see him switch his attention to creating for everyone else. Get everyone involved and happy and see if that oils the gears a bit. But we’ll see.

  27. Shannon Brown has been in the triangle for about 6 months, playing time. He has always been fighting just to stay in the league until the last playoffs finished with a championship. He was in a pretty good back-court combo in college and has the tools to be a good triangle PG.

    I would give him the rest of this year to see if he has the ingredients of an NBA PG. It is a little too early to write him off.

    However, even if he becomes the starter, the Lakers need to make an effort to draft/trade for a PG because Fish is very near the end and Farmar may not be in the Laker’s plans next year.

  28. I think Kobe should rest. The Lakers have lost two games in a row, but it is only November. Wins are important for playoff positioning, but future health is more important. It looks like Gasol will be returning soon and he is not only the second best player on the team, he is also the guy that makes the Triangle deadly to other teams. If Kobe sits it will also force feed Sasha some minutes so he can hopefully find his rhythm.

  29. Radmanovic is a great fit in Golden State. He can shoot the three and nobody there cares about defense.

  30. New post up, breaking down Brooks breaking down the Lakers.

  31. Obviously kobe isn’t right. Not because he’s had two bad nights but because all his shots are short and he’s not getting any lift on his jumpers. But kobe needs to get out post and run the offense and create a little bit.

    I think the lakers really lost the game in the second quarter. Fisher took 6 or 7 shots in the second alone. He only made one. And most of those shots were contested. That took the lakers completely out of any rhythm they had. Then fisher kept firing away in the second half. Will someone please tell him he should not be taking over 8 shots a game, especially when your having a bad shooting night.

    And where’s Lamar. I mean does anyone even remember him playing in the last two games. He has to really step up his energy on the court. He’s been out of defensive position almost every possession in the last two games. He keeps breaking his concentration on his shots by hesitating. He’s not actively rebounding. Lamar needs to be assertive and smart. Because the few times he was assertive, they were ill-advised passes that led to turnovers. I know he’s historically inconsistent, but he’s been lackadaisical on the floor. His energy has to be consistent. I’m starting to see why Pau is so important to the lakers. And that is because he alone makes lamar odom better. Lamar feeds off of good post play by Pau. Its different with Bynum because he just a finisher in the post. Pau is a flat out play maker in every way when his back is to basket. Lamar needs Pau more than anything.

  32. I think it’s time Kobe took the Spurs path during the regular season and bottle up his competitive instincts.

    I’m not saying he’s dropped off or lost a step, I’m saying he’s got a lot of mileage on his legs and should use the regular season to spoonfeed Bynum.

    Do what Shaq couldn’t do, and preserve your legs and glory for the post season. That’s where we can’t rely on Bynum yet, and we need a healthy Kobe with good legs then.

  33. Obviously no one knows exactly how much pain Kobe is feeling, except Kobe. That said, in this post it seems like the point being made is that the injury affected his shooting. Although, I think it needs to be said that the type of shots he was taking weren’t simple jumpshots. I recall on several instances where he would pivot, pivot back, and fadeaway. Sure, that’s a shot he makes. However, he could have taken smarter shots on a night when they weren’t falling. Oh, and let’s give some credit to the length of Ariza. But there are other ways Kobe can contribute other than shooting from the perimeter. Finding the open man – whether that is a result of attracting a double team or just having good vision – and also by driving, getting fouled, and converting an and1 or shooting free throws, something that shouldn’t pain him to much.

  34. Ben, watch the game again and you will see that five of Kobe’s misses in the second half were open looks, and that his elevation was not the same. His leg bothered him.

  35. I wish I could have seen Warren’s trade speculation.

  36. A good leader will make the best decission for the ability to continue to lead those that has to go with him.

  37. lakers&dodgersfan November 17, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Kobe plays through broken bones. He will be okay.