Preview & Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

Kurt —  January 10, 2010

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Records: Lakers 28-8 (1st in West) Bucks 15-18(8th in East)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.4 (11th in league), Bucks 102.7 (25th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.5 (3rd in league) Bucks 103.2 (5th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Blazers: Brandon Jennings, Michael Redd, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut

Lakers Tonight: A couple teams have now banned gambling card games from their team plans and facilities. Don’t look for the Lakers to be one of them.

“I think it’s just a PR thing, personally,” Jackson said before the Lakers faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. “I mean, what are these guys going to do when they get back to the hotel, back to their homes? They’re going to gamble.

“Maybe the plane would be a better spot for them to do it because they’re monitored and they’re in the company of the guys. It hasn’t been a problem. We have about four or five guys on our team who play and they seem to have a wonderful time.

“It’s really a great release for them, a pastime.”

Like many things, it’s a matter of maturity. It’s possible to have fun card games — even at stakes you and I would consider enormous — and have it be about fun and camaraderie. But if people are immature, get in for money they can’t or won’t pay, or are just generally irresponsible, then it can be a problem. And it’s a whole different level to bring guns into the picture. Somehow, with strong team leaders like the Lakers (or Celtics or other teams have) you would never see this.

Blogs and Links: Check out Bucksketball.

Also, if you need a laugh today, this is the video to watch.

Keys to game: Remember when the Lakers played the Bucks in Wisconsin it took a few missed free throws from the Bucks, a questionable call and a Kobe game-tying buzzer beater to send the thing to overtime. While that was there and the Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back, this is not a team that rolls over.

They play good defense, and that starts with creating turnovers — 17.4% of opponent possessions end in a turnover, fourth best rate in the league. Those turnovers fuel easy fast break points, so rule one: Take care of the ball.

The Lakers got killed last time with Redd set up in a wing screen and roll because the Bucks bigs can pop for the midrange or roll to the hoop. Thanks to the Lakers Web site, here is what it looks like:

Also, Bynum needs to be back to his old self and outplay Bynum tonight for the Lakers to stand a chance.

Where you can watch: 6:30 p.m. start on Fox Sports here in Los Angeles, and of course ESPN 710 radio. I’m in Staples so expect a lot of updates.

Kurt

Posts

110 responses to Preview & Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

  1. Looking forward to seeing Bynum versus Bogut tonight

  2. Kurt, I think you mean Bynum needs to outplay Bogut, not Bynum Bynum

  3. Losing faith in my proxy 1st posts… Guess we can’t win it all. Lets try something different. From now on, the 17th post should be the tipping point.

  4. I’m going to be flipping back and forth between the Cavs Blazers game and this one, Roy always seems to bring his A game against LeBron and I want to see if his supporting cast can duplicate what they did the other night against the Lakers because the Cavs are solid defensively.

  5. Don, isn’t the Bucks the team with the other (Will) Bynum? and he is a force too. me thinks that’s what he meant.
    sorry Warren, we’ll get you back in the top 3…I think that’s what we should shoot for

  6. 5 Will Bynum plays for Detroit.

  7. Chris H. 5- That’s Detroit with W. Bynum. JD beat me to it (check the times)

    THIS ONE’S FOR WARREN!… better late than never?

  8. Game time! Let’s hope this time we don’t need a buzzer beater to win.

    It’s rare to find a blog with as insightful posts and commentary as this one, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this new Rockets blog (via TH), http://www.red94.net/?p=453. The posts are a lot higher quality than most blogs I’ve seen, and it seems like the comments section is pretty strong as well. I was disappointed with the pettiness of the Dream Shake commenters last year (and even some of the posters) so I guess this’ll become my go-to Rockets blog.

    Well with all the trade talk put to rest, let’s hope Drew can work Bogut over (and not the other way around). In the media Jennings has slid into his rightful place behind Tyreke. Whose head explodes first tonight: Kobe or Scott Skiles?

  9. But if people are immature, get in for money they can’t or won’t pay, or are just generally irresponsible, then it can be a problem.

    My husband and I used to have a bunch of friends over for poker every weekend, and we saw it all. We’ve seen people blow up over $10. And when it happens it’s not about the money, it’s all on principle. It’s about why they are losing or how, not about the amount. That’s why gambling with friends is so dangerous.

  10. 2. Well, Bynum does kind of have to outplay himself sometimes.

  11. Snoopy I dont think trade talk is put to rest, it’s just off limits in this forum.

    I think Tyreke Evans has a chance to be an allstar next year, I like Brandon Jennings alot and he will be a star PG for years to come but lord Tyreke reminds me of a rough DWade, once he develops a midrange game he will be extremely tough to stop because his ability to get to the rim is among the best in the league.

  12. Don’t have a good feeling about tonight’s game. More of the same lack of effort?

  13. Wow, that JR Smith thing is something I only saw Lamar do every now and then ;)

    As for poker, I’ve played so much that I’ve been dealt about two or three straight flushes, and the only time there was trouble is when you played with people you barely know with stakes that are wee high (both are no-no’s, imho).

    Me and my buddies will usually play overnight, with 10 cent minimum bets, with the winner usually paying for pizza during the game, and/or doling out about 10 ~ 50% of his earnings to those who’ve lost. Still comes to about $20 ~ $60 in net gains and losses depending on the hands you’re dealt…

  14. Wow, Jennings really is rockin’ the Kid n’ Play quality fade.

  15. Still comes to about $20 ~ $60 in net gains, and losses depending on the hands you’re dealt…

    If you can’t handle losing $60 in one night, you should not be playing poker. End of story.

  16. That’s the type of energy Bynum should play with every possession.

  17. links?

  18. Can you believe Bynum? We should talk about trading him for quality powerfowards every game day!
    http://www.atdhe.net/11470/watch-milwaukee-bucks-vs-los-angeles-lakers

  19. i wonder if bynum heard about the trade rumours

  20. Wow, just wow. I’ve only watched 2 possessions so far, and the ball movement is beautiful Twice Bynum has gotten set up close to the rim because ball movement has led to an easy shot, with Bynum in rebounding position. This is the way our offense is supposed to look.

  21. Bynum is active so far and Lamar is off to a great start on the boards.

  22. I take Bynum’s performance with a grain of salt right now because the main issue isn’t with Bynum playing alone down low, we all know he scores, rebounds etc. better. The main issue with Bynum is his compatibility with Gasol in the lineup and will it work.

  23. Look at the Laker defense!! Where has this been all year??? Fisher is keeping up with Jennings, Ammo is closing out hard, Kobe is actually defending Redd, and both Bynum and Odom are protecting the rim, moving their feet on switches, and really controlling the boards.

  24. Obviously, Morrison has been the missing piece in the Lakers’ steel curtain.

  25. Lakers in route of keeping Buck in single digits by the end of the quarter. Hopefully we prepare for an offensive adjustments by the bucks.

  26. Wow, the Lakers sure know how to manhandle high school teams! They’re still only shooting 40% from the field, with kobe and fish being the usual culprits so far, like they’ve been for the past 3-4 games. They’re just lucky the Bucks are god awful! I’m still not sold that they’ve figured things out yet. But I guess it’s early…

  27. Maybe Phil was the source of the trade rumor as he saw it as a way to motivate Bynum? I kid I kid. But look at Bynum today…

  28. 24, rofl omg that made me laugh so hard. That’s gotta be it. Ammo is the key!

  29. You’re telling me no one at Staples stands up to applaud the team after that 1st quarter performance?!

  30. Karl, Ryan Seacrest did.

    Best defensive quarter from the Lakers in a while.

  31. Kurt, I read on ESPN that Gasol is going to join the Lakers for their Texas road trip, what are the chances Pau plays tuesday and wednesday?

  32. Artest and Fish should have a layup shooting contest. First one to make one wins! That one would go on forever…

  33. See that. Phil takes out Ammo and the lead goes down to 10. He’s gotta be the key.

  34. He should take out Kobe. Someone tell him that the game started. Oh, and that it’s ok to make another shot the rest of the season as well! 0 for 5 from the field. Off to a great start once again!

  35. Zephid 32, You’re probably right but that other guy Bynum has also been on the bench. That might be a slight difference maker, not sure.

  36. Wow. Wolves offered Jefferson for Granger. I’ll admit I haven’t seen a ton of Granger, so maybe he is that good, but turning down the chance to land a talented low-post scorer?

    Kurt, start a “We want Ammo!” chant! Or maybe, in the light of recent events, “We want Adam Morrison!” might be more appropriate.

  37. kobe looks tired, shot is really flat

  38. Kobe needs to stop holding the ball on offense. He’s killing the flow.

  39. 0 for 8 from the field. Good job.

  40. I still think Bynum and Pau need more time playing with each other, that’s what it comes down to. Bynum flat out doesn’t have that much experience playing overall. Throw in that most of his coaching with Kareem and Rambis was for one and one type moves, it’s not a surprise he has a hard time adjusting to someone in his space. It’s not like LO and Pau, who have been both playing high level team ball since they were kids. Easier for them to adjust.

    Look at from when Pau was acquired. How many games have they actually played together? Heck, they’ve only had one training camp together and that was last season when they were trying to integrate everyone and Bynum was still rusty from injury. This year, Pau was hurt. I’d say combined those two have probably played together half a season and one training camp. Not a lot for someone of Bynum’s inexperience.

    As for the poker situation, it’s always down to the type of people you play with. I’ve been in regular games where stakes for the night can be $200-300 losses and there’s been no problems. Nights where it’s max $10 loss and hosts provides all kinds of free food and drinks and someone will still have problems. I tend to be really choosy these days who i play with in home games. Rather go to casinos

  41. Maybe with more AMMO, we might be able to get some good shots off. get it?

  42. other links

  43. 35, nah, I’m gonna go with Ammo.

  44. Snoopy, Indy has been reallly high on Granger for a long time. They think he’s a franchise star type player and he has shown flashes of that for long stretches.

    I’m more shocked that Wolves would offer Jefferson.

    Sorry, Kurt, not trying to hijack no trade talk.

    When Kobe first hurt his finger, consensus was about a month to heal. That’s without constant reinjury of course. Its been a few weeks, I wonder where the progress is toward it with all these setbacks.

  45. Good defense or bad shooting? Whatever you want to call it, that was one ugly half of shooting. UGLY.

  46. its frustrating watching kobe try to shoot his way out of a bad game

  47. I guess I keep interrupting with non-game thoughts, but since we’re fresh off our Bosh debate, there’s one area he’s unquestionably superior to Bynum: humor.

    Fun watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_MO_FYEf6M&feature=related (aside from the related memories)

  48. Kobe is forcing his shots which is not good for the team and he is not making some smart decisions on the court. His shot will fall but he should be more of a facilitator when the shots are not falling

  49. So do you think we could talk the Raptors into a Bosh for Kobe trade? :-)

  50. do we want to trade the only player we have who’s scoring with some efficiency right now?

    sad to say, but the Blazers/Cavs game is a lot more enjoyable.

  51. Everyone, let’s try to keep the trade talk in the trade thread and the game talk in the game thread. Just like the McDLT.

  52. Kobe passed and we got a bucket! Maybe we should keep him after all.

  53. Sorry, didn’t mean to bring up the trade talk again, I was just sharing a funny vid. Probably the only funny moments that have ever occurred on Jay Leno’s show.

  54. I feel that in the year 2016, Kobe has managed to buy/hijack a time machine to transport himself to tonight’s game and replace his 2010 self.

  55. is anyone else experiencing technical difficulties with fox sports west?

  56. Chownoir (was J) January 10, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    #48 Glove, I’ve been complaining about Kobe’s refusal to do that for years. At this point I don’t think it’s ever going to change and I’ve just come to accept it as much as I dislike it. Heck even if doesn’t facilitate that much, at least stop taking such high difficulty shots and work more off the ball to catch it in easier positions.

  57. This is just one ugly, ugly game of shooting. 28% for the Bucks, 32% for the Lakers. Just atrocious.

    Kobe needs to slow down on the shooting, since clearly his shot has altogether disappeared for the night. I don’t think I’ve seen his shot been this out of wack ever. Probably is just a one-time occurrence. He will be furiously working to fix whatever went wrong tonight, tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. if we aren’t flying out tonight for the Texas road trip. No need to stress about it.

  58. seriously? Im following on gamecast. left to make dinner. score was 23-35. cooked and ate my food. score is 25-37

  59. this is the probably the worst game im ever seen, two terrible offensive teams

  60. Travis, gamecast shut down for some reason.

  61. At the game, and the current discussion is if the Lakers should sit Kobe for a couple weeks. Not that he’d ever go with it, but the more I watch his lefty shooting and awful ballhandling, the more I think it might be necessary.

  62. #57, I would agree with you, but his shooting has been absolutely terrible for the past 4 games or so now. So I don’t know what this is besides crap!

  63. ShanWOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  64. ShanWOW! I had a feeling when he was coming up the floor.

  65. how are we up 19 again?

  66. funny how we finally start scoring with 3 point prayers lol

  67. Chownoir (was J) January 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Hey, Lakers bench has outscored Bucks startes 18 to 7. Talk about a misleading stat.

  68. lakersfansincemagic January 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Seriously.. Kobe’s proven to be one of the hardest worker of all time, so if he’s missing shots, then something might be bothering him, like his fingers. Him forcing shots may not be good either, but he has to push the limits to see where his limits are.

  69. Has anyone ever seen Jordan Farmar drive left?

  70. J. farmar is underated athletically!! The lakers have a lot of talent and I see Phil subtly getting pt the bench and developing chemistry during these meaningless regular season games. WOW SHANNON BROWN another great athlete

  71. and, my feed just died. Time to go to bed, this one’s done.

  72. ShanWOW! with Farmar on the finish! that was very impressive.
    AMMO just let everybody know that he wants some too! Very entertaining bad game.

  73. okay, Shannon’s just showing off now.

  74. Taco Unit giving fans their money’s worth. I like!

  75. Chownoir (was J) January 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Very feast and famine it seems like with the Brown/Farmar combo. When they have it going, the two of them seem to hit everything in sight and get lots of turnovers. When they’re not, neither one seems to be able to be productive. Must drive Phil crazy not to be able to count on them consistently.

  76. Our bench sure save us today.

  77. So that’s the way it starts…

    Not sure what was worse about Joel tonight: the fact that he believes Horry’s Game 4 winner vs. the Kings came in 2000-01, or that he said “the starters were a non-factor aside from LO” on a night when Bynum had 17 and 18 with three blocks in limited minutes due to garbage time.

  78. Good games from Drew and Lamar tonight, but our offense still needs to go inside-out a lot more often. Also, it’s obvious that Kobe’s finger is in worse shape now than it was before Christmas. I think he needs to get out of the mindset that without Pau, he has to do everything. He’s not in the mode of sitting back and letting the game come to him, and then attacking where it’s needed. So right now, we have a combination of Bad Kobe + Injured Kobe, which adds up to Lousy Offense. Also, Josh Powell’s game has really dropped off.

  79. 78, couldn’t agree with you more about Kobe right now. And yeah, what the heck happened to Powell?! He used to drain that wide open 15-18 footer. Now he’s lucky if he even hits the backboard!

  80. Two post game locker room quotes of interest: Kobe was asked “Is it crazy to think you’d take time off to rest your finger?” “Probably.”

    Then someone told Bynum, who said he had not heard, about the him for Bosh rumor. “That’s Crazy!” He then went on to say that he has been mentioned in so many trade rumors over the years that he doesn’t pay any attention any more.

  81. Also, Kobe finger update in the AM.

  82. 78&79, you are right. Josh Powell has disappeared. Our bench is basically only JF/SB/LO.

  83. Lol at “Josh Powell’s game has really dropped off”

    Last year he might have been the worst player in the entire NBA who played 500 minutes. He has been just as bad this year. To add insult to injury, he probably passed Morrison today as “worst Laker there is”.

    I can’t figure out why the Lakers bother to keep him at all. Literally anyone we pick up would be better.

  84. Both Kobe and Phil mentioned that the finger is making it difficult for Kobe to shoot, citing he doesn’t have enough strength without the splint. An acceptable excuse. But neither one seemed to even hint that maybe Kobe shouldn’t be shooting such a high volume of shots (difficult shots at that) with the finger being what it is.

    I’d say it’s baffling… but that would imply that I’m surprised. And I’m not. I still love ‘em though.

  85. Yes! Thank god. When I brought this up Kurt basically said that Powell doing just fine. Powell is the most inept ball player I have EVER seen in the NBA. I don’t care how much he’s piad. At least Morrison can pass with emotion on his face.

  86. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2010/01/lakers-vs-bucks-ingame-report.html

    speaking of kobe’s finger, look at the photo in this link, the pinky, it’s bizarre how it’s bent and twisted. wow.

  87. Chris

    Athletes do all sorts of flexibility exercises.. why do you think they get laid so often?

  88. I still think Powell is okay for what he is getting paid and the number of minutes he should be getting. his shooting, particularly from the midrange, is way off from previous years, and his rebounding is down. I agree. Maybe they don’t bring him back. But really, this is guy 11 on the bench, he is not someone that determines the outcome of games. I don’t get the hate.

  89. Did you guys notice that Ammo have a +24 in the +/- boxscore?

  90. It’s not that I hate him, but statistically he really might be the worst player in the NBA.

    Last year he had the worst Roland Rating and +/- in the entire NBA for anyone that played more than 11 percent of their team’s minutes. He played 18 percent.

    After this game, he is probably close to dead last again.

    It’s true that he doesn’t cost us too many games. But he has been so monumentally terrible that even playing 15 percent of the time has probably cost us a few games over this year and last.

  91. I think the Powell comments are directed toward how he used to fill in for one of our injured bigs fairly adequately, but now he’s doing so at a level so low that you’d need binoculars to see adequate. When our front line is healthy, then he’s virtually irrelevant. But right now, Pau is out and Drew is sometimes either in foul trouble or entering the Lamar Zone. Therefore, we need adequate play from Powell if Phil insists on using him instead of DJ.

  92. Josh Powell is the 3rd string PF… he isn’t supposed to be good.

  93. Keep in mind that some players are kept on the roster because of the practices.

    Having big time talent from 9-12 is unlikely. But, if those guys work hard in practice, have the ability to mimic opposing players games in practices and walk-throughs, and have good chemistry with the rest of the team, then they will get the spot.

    Mad Dog comes to mind.

  94. Powell is also locker room DJ

  95. Another thing that adds to the practice/chemistry idea is the way that the Lakers were so quick to resign Powell (and Mbenga) during the summer, instead of waiting until the preseason and making them compete for roster spots.

  96. @86 Wow indeed. Wonder how much pain he is in right now.

  97. I don’t care what anyone says. I will take Powell over Smush Parker or Kwame Brown any day, in any game.

    What short memories we have. :)

  98. This was a bench generated blowout victory despite ‘bad” Kobe–with Gasol on the bench–and we’re complaining about Josh Powell?

  99. Is the ban of gambling that some teams are imposing meant to imply that somehow it’s the gambling that causes thugs like Arenas and Crittenton to pack heat in their lockers? I think the problem might go a little deeper than this.

  100. I’m amazed at the psychological factor of the contract year. Absolutely floored. I mean, they can’t honestly think to themselves, “I’ve got a contract for 4 years, no need to play defense this quarter,” can they? To me, it’s no coincidence Farmar is playing this way this year. If he could only keep up this level of play consistently, he’d be almost everything we ask for.

    I really think front offices, collectively, should rely more on 1-2 year contracts (or more team options). The spate of bad contracts in the last decade is just bad for the game. Do I honestly think it’s going to happen? Of course not. You’ll always have overeager owners with deep pockets who fall in love with a young player. But it would be nice to see more team power in negotiating contracts. An absence of Vujacic-type deals would allow teams to consolidate talent and raise the overall level of play of the NBA elite, which I think is better for the game overall.

  101. 99, I think the owners would prefer to have shorter contracts and less guaranteed money. It’s the player’s union that is going to have a problem with that. However, I do think in the next CBA we’ll have more incentive based contracts, less guaranteed money, more Allan Houston provisions, and either a smaller max contract or a higher salary cap/luxury tax level.

  102. I realized last night just how much I miss Chick Hearn. The more I hear from Joel, the more I miss Chick.

    The most obvious thing is that both Joel and Stu are ‘company men’ – meaning they can’t say bad things about Laker players. Stu talking about Lamar changing his game is a particularly irritating comment. With Joel I mostly get drivel and repetition. Good voice though. I think I would rather have Paul Sutherland.

  103. By the way, just a little thought on that new CBA: Derek Fisher is head of the players union, do you really think he is going to walk away from the sport after this season with that CBA negotiation ahead? Look for him to get a Shaw-esque one-year deal with the Lakers or elsewhere next season. (This note, by the way, is different than saying he should start next year, I’m just saying he won’t quietly go away.)

  104. I think the feeling is mutual when Fish says “I want to come back”… and I think he knows deep inside he SHOULDN’T be starting anymore. I also see him being on a part-assistant capacity for us.

    The new CBA has alot of bumps ahead. The players’ union need to balance out the BRI (basketball related income) share of the players while keeping the league happy so that everything can continue. Sources say the NBA will almost-surely ask the union to lower the BRI share from 57% to 50%… however which way that works.

    In terms of contract-giving, 2011 CBA will not be close to perfect. If they indeed lower the max lines, contracts like that of Hedo Turkoglu (given last summer) will have become huge huge contracts. The yearly increases is almost always what kills the contracts because on the final year of the standard 5-yr deal, the deal would have increased 8% multiplied to itself 5 times as an add-on.

    Something tells me teams will be scrambling for 2011 expirers more than they are doing so for 2010. While the Knicks and Bulls might be eager to spend in 2010 more than any other team, something tells me 2010 FA becomes overrated after Lebron decides to stay in CLE, Amare in Arizona, Joe Johnson in Atlanta and Wade in MIA. Bosh is the only real catch as is the probable bolting of Rudy Gay, which is also RFA. Then you’d be left with David Lee (who wants to be a Knick anyway).

    Teams like Minnesota, Sacramento, Oklahoma and even Moscow Nets will be sitting on the cap space to avoid losses.

  105. Craig W,

    I like Joel and Stu. They’re among the best for team guys. Their criticisms are subtle. Like Stu calling a bad Kobe shot a “very difficult shot.” His way of saying, “what the hell was that Kobe?”

    Zephid,

    I agree in some type of way. Guaranteed contracts seem to be a problem. But then again, front offices need to be more accountable for their moves.

    Some people feel there should be revenue sharing. I don’t agree with that, but something has to be done about bad contracts ruining franchises. Look at the NFL. never would a Jerome James still collect a paycheck and ruin a team’s flexibility.

    Kurt,

    RT. I think the Lakers keep him at vet minimum. On the bench. No one else will offer him more.

  106. I meant to put this comment in this thread…

    I missed the game last night. But by looking at the boxscore and reading all the comments, I think I can surmize that Kobe is full on struggling. Whenever I see those types of shooting numbers from Kobe, I have a variety of thoughts.

    1). Kobe should know better than to play this way. He’s a veteran of this system and knows how to play within the context of this offense. (One of my first stops the morning after a Lakers game is to read Dwyer’s BTB and, lo and behold, he had this same line of thinking about Kobe last night.) So, my first feeling is that of frustration at why he goes down this road. I mean, he really does know better and could easily switch gears if he wanted to and change his style of play by going into “decoy mode” and set up his teammates more.

    2). My other line of thinking is that Kobe is wired a certain way and there will be nights where, despite evidence saying that he shouldn’t, he’s going to continue to shoot the ball because he thinks the next shot is going to go in. Kobe knows that one or two shots can turn his night around and he’ll seek out shots to prove himself correct. This may be faulty logic and I think we’d all like to see Kobe make different decisions if it truly isn’t his night, but this is the guy we have and I’m willing to live with nights like this every once and a while. The reason I say this is because Kobe has shot himself out of nights that started poorly and he has been able to turn what started out a bad night into a pretty good one. Last night was a game in which the outcome was (seemingly) never in doubt. So if I was going to rationalize this type of performance, I’d say that Kobe continued to shoot based off the fact that he could get away with it. Would I really rationalize it this way? No, I wouldn’t. But, I’m just saying that there are other ways to look at a performance like this. In the end though, I’d just say that this was a spectacularly bad night from our top guy and leave it at that.

    Now some notes on Kobe in general….

    *It’s obvious, based off his shooting numbers, that his hand is bothering him more than what it was when it originally got hurt. Two or three games ago, Phil mentioned that Kobe reaggrivated his finger. I think we’re now seeing the results of that. I think we’d be best served moving away from a Kobe-centric offense, but I’m not sure if that is truly possible with Gasol still out. Fair or not, Kobe is going to take on a bigger scoring burden and is going to try to do more. That’s only going to change if…

    *The rest of the team needs to stand up and take charge more. The other night, after the Portland loss, Zephid made some salient points about Kobe’s shot taking/selection/volume and what our offense looked like. At the time, I wanted to make a specific comment, but could not find a quote from Phil I’ve heard in the past that spoke to my point about this. It just so happens that the K Bros asked Phil about this before the Bucks game and he gave the quote that I wanted to use . Here is the bullet point lifted right from the K Bros post:

    Phil Jackson reiterated he doesn’t have a problem with Kobe Bryant’s shot selection of late, saying that many of his 37 shots Friday at Portland came late after the Lakers fell behind and needed a push to recover. I asked him where that line between his teammates deferring too much and Kobe taking too much control exists. “I always tell the players they have to be strong willed enough to turn him down when he demands the ball (if) something better is going on on the other side of the court,” he said. “Until they develop that strength, we’re not going to bail them out.” One good example came in the second half of Friday’s loss, where Kobe tried to post up Martell Webster and Jordan Farmar spent maybe five or six seconds looking for Bryant and waiting for him to get open, rather than decisively going somewhere else with the ball. “that was one of the first comments I made to Jordan when he started the Phoenix series about three years ago, when he was a rookie, that you’re going to have to turn (Kobe) down sometimes and stand up to the abuse you’re going to get, or the verbal condemnation you might get from him. If he says why didn’t you give me the ball, you’re going to have to have a good excuse, or something’s going to have to come out of it. That’s a point guard’s responsibility.”

    I cite this just because Kobe is a strong willed player (most players of Kobe’s caliber are) and in order to play with one of those guys you have both respect that and trust enough in your own decision making to sometimes ignore the instinct to give that guy the ball. It’s no easy task though. Shaq used to yell at players all the time to “give me the #@$%* BALL!” and players would often do just that. So, I while I understand what Phil is saying, I also understand that the pressure of playing with a great player can lead to caving when that player is telling you to do something.

    This ties into something that I harped on a lot last season, but have not as much this season (even though this season it’s more warranted). We are not running our offense. We may see the foundation of the Triangle (all the players are in the spots on the court that make up a Triangle), but what we are doing is running a bunch of isolation sets from those positions. We’re running a bunch of post up sets where the pass into the post (be it to Kobe, Bynum, or even Pau) often lead to that player taking the shot. We’re running a bunch of dribble hand off sets where the guy that ends up with the ball is just taking a jumpshot. We’re seeing a gap in the defense and using dribble penetration to get to the basket and either score, get fouled, or (maybe) pass to the open man when the defense collapses. Sure, these shots are all products of our offense, but when strung together in the manner that I’ve seen, are not, in fact, our offense. Where is the backside screening with one or more players flashing open to receive a pass? Where are the pressure releases when the post entry is denied that would initiate cutting on the weakside? When was the last time you saw a player get a good shot on a curl into the lane? I could go on and on.

    What I’m saying is, if Kobe is going to be bothered by his hand (and he is) and we’re going to have Pau out (and we are) the way to play better is to run our offense. This will lead to good shots. This will lead to floor balance which, in turn, helps our defense. This will help our offensive rebounding. This will get our guards open jumpshots and our big men easier shots at the rim. There’s no good reason, none, for the Lakers to not be a top 5 team in offensive efficiency. The only way that happens (when you consider the talent we have on this team) is because we’re not doing what we’re supposed to – which is running our offense. (Sorry for the long post.)

  107. Somebody please explain to me how Bynum can go from 2 rebounds to 18 in a single game? Although he said he did not hear the trade rumor something inside me tells me that he did hear that and this was his way of showing that CB has nothing on him on the defensive end – although I think CB is a much better defensive player than AB.

    Anyway, i bring this up because last night was the type of game I like AB having. when the kid focuses on defense and rebounding, the points (17) will come. I really hope last night was not a fluke, but more of a sign of things to come.

  108. Snoopy,
    I read a column recently (about six weeks ago) that the “contract year” theory can’t be backed up statistically, and they had facts to support that. (i.e. that players, as a rule, don’t play better in their contract years). I don’t remember who wrote it, but I’ll try to dig it up.

  109. @106/Darius – Jackson said in his post-game press conference that Kobe was playing around with his finger splint, trying to move to a lighter one since the hand was getting better. Jackson could be blowing smoke, but that kind of makes sense. I think most of us would like to see Kobe take some time off and let his hand heal, but it’s pretty clear Kobe isn’t like most of us (in so many ways). I’d like to think he would at least consider easing up if Pau were healthy and capable of carrying the team for awhile.

    @100/Snoopy – I think some players are more affected by contract years than others, but there seem to be an awful lot of bad contracts that were signed based on one year’s numbers. Chris Kaman is a typical example. He spent the summer before his contract year working out (as he never had before), then once he got the contract decided that was too hard, and hasn’t played as well since. I don’t think that’s quite as dishonest as the “I’m only going to try hard for awhile” model, but the effect is similar.