Kobe Bryant’s Finger and Geometry

Kurt —  January 11, 2010

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Bill Bridges put this in the comments, but it is too good not to make its own post.

The accuracy required for a player to hit a mid-range jump shot, let alone 3 pointers is astounding. Consider this. The inside rim of the hoop is 18″ in diameter. The Ball is 9.54″ in diameter. If the ball lands exactly in the middle of the hoop, the distance between the skin of the ball and the hoop is 4.2″. Let’s assume that if the ball is more than 4.2″ away from dead center that the shot is more likely to miss than go in. 4.2″ is not a lot of room for error. Players cannot be so accurate by measuring their shots. Rather, the accuracy comes from over 10,000 hours of repetition during which the shot is generated not by intent, but by muscle memory.

Kobe’ problem is that while his muscles are making the same movements from memory (honed, in his case by well in excess of 10,000 hours), the splint/wrap is introducing volatility in the angle of the ball. Simply put, movement is perfect, yet he misses. To compensate, Kobe must adjust the shot. This adjustment completely negates the reliance on muscle memory. The shot is now aimed and adjusted and invariably misses.

To be as successful as he was shortly after the injury, he must have adjusted his grip rather than the motion. The grip + constant dimension and tension of the splint allowed Kobe to maintain the same motion with good results. But something has changed in the last few games and the shot is more volatile than before. The wrap is different. Or the splint is stiffer. Or the pain is such that Kobe cannot maintain an adjusted grip. Whatever the reason, the volatility of the shot has increased. This must mean that more of his shots are off- center. The more off-centered the shot is, the more likely it is to miss.

To refresh you of elementary trigonometry, let’s assume that that a direct line from the shooter to the middle of the basket is the adjacent side of a right triangle, the actual line from the shooter to the hoop is the hypotenuse and the distance between the middle of the hoop and the actual point of contact is the opposite length (or the “error”). (with me so far?). Then we can calculate the error resulting from an incremental drift in the angle of the shot from dead center when the shot reaches the hoop. If this error is in excess of the aforementioned 4.2″, the shot is likely to miss.

From 10 feet away (an ideal post-up turn around distance), a shot 1 degree off dead-center results in an error of 2.1″ – a make. A 20 footer, results in an error of 4.2″ – a 50/50 proposition. A three pointer of 24 feet results in a 5″ error – most likely a miss.

Now let’s assume Kobe’s shot is off center of 2 degrees. A 10 footer is off by 4.2″. 20 footer is off by 8.4″ – barely grazing the rim. A 3 pointer is an air-ball.

An error of 3 degrees turns even the 10 footer into a miss. Something has resulted in more of Kobe’s shots being 2 – 3 degrees off center.

I’ve even ignored the increased velocity that long-distance shots require. This serves to magnify the errors by increasing the kinetic energy of the bouncing ball. The same error factor is more likely to result in a miss for a long shot than a short shot.

If the volatility introduced by the splint is going to linger and be persistent, he has to change his approach.

– He needs to go back into the post and try to get more 10 footers than continue shooting from the perimeter

– On the perimeter, he needs to shoot more bank shots, ala Duncan. A bank shot serves to reduce the velocity and the net effect is akin to reducing the distance of the shot. (Newtonians note, this is due to friction, a frictionless system would have bank shots at the same level of accuracy as a non-bank shot).

He could also take a week or so off and, god forbid, let his finger heal a bit.

After the game last night, a reporter asked Kobe if it was crazy to think he would take time off. “Probably” was the response.

On another topic, Darius had these thoughts about Bynum getting touches and being more active, and if that should continue when Gasol returns.

Bynum is still a player that focuses (mostly) on how he can get his. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I love that he *can* get his and has developed into a pretty reliable post threat). But that (gunner-ish mentality) creates a trickle down effect for how efficient our offense can be – because even if Bynum plays at an efficient level (he does) what makes this offense elite is creating easier opportunities for others based off your own efficiency (i.e. drawing extra defenders and getting your ‘mates open shots).

So, in the end, while letting Bynum do his thing may get this team a more engaged and active player, what is the tradeoff? Less touches for a just as efficient (and even more helpful to his teammates) player in Gasol? Less easy opportunities for our guards and wings because they’re creating shots for themselves (like Farmar/WOW shooting pull up jumpers in the half court) rather than our bigs creating shots for them? I mean, this is what I’m seeing and while I’m not mad about it, I’m not ecstatic about the results either.

to Kobe Bryant’s Finger and Geometry

  1. When put like this, I don’t feel so bad about making 2/10 shots when I shoot 3 pointers in a pick-up game. 😉


  2. Re: Bynum and Gasol sitting in a Tree…

    For the entire month of January last season including the first week before Bynum really started shaking off the rust of his first knee injury (he only averaged 9 ppg the first week of January), Andrew averaged 17.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg, while shooting 58.8 % from the field. That is also including the game against Memphis where he only played 5 min before leaving with the torn MCL.

    In that same month Gasol averaged 20.8 ppg, 4.8 assists, 10.9 rpg, on 58.6 percent shooting from the field. They as always were sharing the basketball with hall of fame scorer Kobe Bryant. I would like to see another combination of C and PF put up better numbers in a month playing alongside a scoring champion guard the stature of Kobe. The question in my opinion isn’t if Bynum and Gasol can coexist (after all… Gasol is a finesse and perimeter oriented PF who is more comfortable facing up or backing down smaller opponents and Bynum is a back to the basket banger) … the real question is if Bynum can stay healthy and get his bounce back in his legs. That might come hand in hand with getting rid of that clunker of a brace that limits his mobility and movement 🙁

    There is no question though that this season playing without the same explosion Andrew has shown us in the past, Drew needs the basketball more often in one on one situations in the post to score. So of course playing without the Lakers #2 scorer helps his touches. He hasn’t been able to play as well without the ball this season (i.e. playing with Gasol) because he doesn’t have as of yet his past athleticism and leaping ability. When and if it returns I see know problem with Bynum and Gasol resting comfortably in a tree… k-i-s-s-i-n-g. But that of course is up to them… from what I see of Pau’s finishes around the rim I suspect he would be game.


  3. This post reminds me of this game:


  4. I might write a post about this on my own blog, but a friend and I thought about this a few years back, and I think our conclusion was that for a free throw (something an NBA player should do successfully at about a 75 percent clip), you have to be on line to an accuracy of about 2 percent (your skew is about 2 percent of the length of the shot). The speed with which you push the ball has to be accurate to 1 percent. My recollection is that it’s because the range of the shot goes as the speed squared, so a small error in speed translates to a larger error in range.

    Those percentages vary inversely as the length of the shot, so for a shot beyond the arc (let’s say 25 feet), it’s 1.2 and 0.6 percent, respectively.


  5. Kobe has always been my favorite player in the league. I like everything about him.


    I am mainly talking about TAKING A REST. Why is this guy playing with all his injuries on his hand? Take a freakin break until the injury heals. We don’t need Kobe in the line up. With Artest back and Pau coming back, this is a perfect time for Kobe to take a month long break while his broken finger heals.

    Secondly, don’t take so many stupid shots. I think Kobe needs to take around 20 shots per game. And putting it like that kind of detracts from my sentiment, because it is not the number of shots but rather the type of shots. If they are good shots, then he should take as many as he can get. But mostly i see 20 shots per game as the average limit of good shots per game.

    Kobe needs to realize that he can win the MVP without scoring 30 points per game. Most important is how many games the lakers win. Also, he can be involved in the entire win through assists and other setups. This is a much smoother route to the MVP trophy than chucking 35 shots per game.


  6. For anyone who’s ever wanted to see Kendrick Perkins smile: http://www.celticsblog.com/2010/1/11/1240774/perk-and-his-scowl#storyjump

    Vid at the bottom. I think the grimace at 4:10 comes pretty close.


  7. Wow. If I can recommend one video to watch all month, this is it. McHale and Hakeem were absolute monsters, just going back and forth. I’d forgotten what this much skill looks like in the low post (from both teams going head-to-head). Man, I miss the Golden Age of big men.



  8. Brian,
    Yes – 2% difference in length on a 20 foot shot is just under 5 inches, which would turn most makes into misses. Which is pretty amazing, when you think how well some players shoot the ball; while moving in relation to the basket (laterally and vertically), and having to adjust for the defender, and having 15,000 Tony D’Annunzios yelling “Miss it Noonan. Miss!”


  9. @ harold. I’m going to stop passing you the ball now.


  10. Um…. er… so… I’m very math challenged. Two thirds of this post went completely over my head.

    The one thing I understood was, Kobe would shoot better if he took the time to let his fingers heal. So maybe someone needs to point out to him that if he does sit out for a while the team is more likely to win the rings again? I’ve sort of gotten the impression he likes those championship rings.


  11. My son and I are ready for the game on Tuesday and will then make the 3 hour drive up to Dallas for Wednesday’s game. I wish our team was at full strength for both, but that it is the way it goes sometimes. I’m not sure about Dallas (Texas Rob help me out here), but I do know that local reports estimate that there will be roughly 4,000 Laker fans on site at the AT&T Center Tuesday evening. And for those of you who have only seen this place on tv, be thankful – it is a dump disguised as an electronic barn. Here’s to Kobe shooting only when he has to and to our Lakers netting 2 wins on this Texas two-step. Go Lakers!


  12. @ray
    on our pickup court, I’m the Black hole! Seriously though, that’s what everyone else I play with think, so me shooting is usually a last resort thing anyway. The only reason I get PT is because I can run up and down the whole game.

    part of Kobe’s unwillingness to sit out probably comes from:
    1. Not wanting to be like Shaq
    2. Not thinking the team will be in contention if he sits out
    3. Seriously not wanting to see the team do ‘better’ without him
    4. Believing that it will heal even if he plays

    Not sure if the reasons are in this particular order, but I’m fairly sure that these are all factors – probably 4 is the most dominant reasoning, but I won’t be surprised if Number 1 was.


  13. Kaveh,
    I have to disagree with you. Nobody talks about Lebron’s assists until after they mention his scoring. Nash was the exception that proves the rule, but he can also shoot lights out.

    MVP is usually about domination and, while assists may break the tie, they don’t get you there in the first place.


  14. Has it occurred to Kobe that instead of changing his grip or motion with his right hand, he could shoot with his left hand more? Never mind.


  15. @ harold. Then run to the basket and ill throw you a sweet bounce pass that will lead to a layup.


  16. I think with Bynum the answer is experience.

    In my mind Bynum’s possessions should unfold in one of three ways, ideally:

    1) If he has good post position and gets the ball one on one he should absolutely shoot every time. This will result in a make, a make and one, free throws, or a miss. With good position Bynum should rebound at least a percentage of misses for put backs.

    2) If he has good post position but is immediately double-teamed then he should pass it out above the doubling defender to that open man and re-post. This results in either an open shot, ball movement, a re-post, a foul, or (tragically) a turnover. Open shots are good. Ball movement is good. Re-posts are good. Turnovers are bad, but that is the cost of letting go of the ball.

    3) If he has good post position but is double-teamed on a delayed action he should pass it to the cutting player following their defender to the basket. This results in an open dive at the basket to the cutter for a make, a make and one, free throws, or a miss. With good position Bynum should rebound at least a percentage of misses for put backs.

    But the problems are myriad, not least of which is the defenses disguise their intentions…those sneaky bastages!

    In situation 1) Bynum needs to act with confidence and rhythm. He must be decisive, and he cannot hesitate. This result is the easiest thing for an individual player to learn and control. It is almost always true that young players are better at scoring than passing. Passing takes vision and very quick decision making. Experience is a huge factor in that process. Practice helps, but game situations matter more, obviously. This is one of the reasons that Bynum takes far more shots than he passes up. It is a matter of experience and confidence. He KNOWS he can shoot. He is not as sure he can pass.

    But, let us say that we get young Andrew to pass out of the immediate double-team of situation 2). He is trusting that the player that has fed him the entry post pass is going to stay where he was when the defender left him to double. If he does not then Andrew has just thrown a pass to the second row. Embarrassing. This option is really dependent on the initial player being disciplined, and most of the Laker wings seem to cut into motion around the arc once they pass into the post. Artest usually does not, which is interesting, and he and Bynum have connected on a few assisted three pointers because of this.

    I think that situation 3) is the object of greatest concern and frustration. Very few Lakers make the entry pass and then cut to the rim once their man doubles on a delay. I have seen Bynum hit this cutter with a pass, so I know he can do it. But he so rarely gets the opportunity that I think he simply doesn’t expect it. Again this is a direct result of a lack of experience.

    It isn’t that Bynum doesn’t frustrate me from time to time, because he certainly does.

    It is more that I try to keep in mind he is very young, still learning on the job, and has VERY limited game experience at any level.

    Two years of high school ball (maybe, what, 40 games?).

    No college.

    Limited time as a 17 year old rookie (46 games @7.3 minutes each.)

    A full season as an 18 year old sophomore (82 games @21.9 minutes. 8 and 6 averages.)

    Injury shortened third year (35 games @ 28.8 minutes. 13 and 10, which is very nice.)

    Injury shortened last year (50 games @ 28.9 minutes. 14 and 8.)

    And this year (35 games @ 32.2 minutes. 15 and 8.)

    Do yourself a favor, and look at Jermaine O’Neal’s career stats:


    His first four seasons (aged 17-21, like Bynum) were not nearly as good as Andrew. His next seven seasons were awesome. Do you think Portland wishes they had kept him? Seeing what he did once he hit Indiana and got playing time?

    Trade Bynum? Bench Bynum?

    Man, I am just missing it.

    Let the young man develop. He is already good, and might be (MIGHT BE *knocks on wood*) an absolute STUD for the next 8-10 years.

    Thanks for reading the whole, long post. Go Lakers!


  17. Harold, I think all 4 of your factors are legit. I think also the fifth could be not missing a game all season on his MVP resume. If he does take a couples weeks off at this point, he loses some of those “Bruce Willis” points and maybe he thinks (foolishly) that he loses some of that mystique associated with roughing out the grind of 82 games even as many teammates were in and out of the lineup. Nobody truly knows his full reasoning for insisting against rest but it is frustrating for us seeing the struggle.


  18. Interesting stuff Bill Bridges, you had me thinking the whole time I was reading it. After contemplating what you wrote, it makes me wonder how any shot goes in with regularity in this league, like pre-injury Kobe J’s. Only FB&G would have this type of post, just love it, bye the way. Kobe take a month or so off, it will be OK.

    “All that counts in life is intention.” – Andrea Bocelli


  19. KB is not siting down unless he is run over by a car on the way to the game, and nobody has the cajones to tell him to sit. Phil is making it clear that #24 runs the stable, when he says it is up to teamates to rebuke KB as he demands the ball. I thought Phil pulled more weight in the huddle than to say he’s gonna let one player dictate to the entire team when they get the ball and how many touches. It was kinda confusing to hear that when he teaches team over self. I used to think that the team lacked toughness against the opposition, now I realize everybody on the team is afraid of the big bad wolf on their own team. How can you expect a teamate to play with a certain toughness when every game their getting punked into giving the ball up, for fear of what might be said to them. No wonder they look so hesitant to do things own their own. I hope this finger situation has a after school special feel to it after it is over, I really need a feel good moment after all this is said and done.


  20. Here’s a link for those who might be interested in undertaking some fancy book learnin’ on the subject:


    Seems interesting.


  21. loved the post Bill


  22. Craig W., Good points. I do think the year Nash won MVP he didn’t score much, was just an SSOL assist machine.

    Since b-ball is a team sport, one of the best stats is +/- for the great players like KB and LBJ that log a lot of minutes. When you’re on the court, are you beating the opponent during that time verus when you’re off? Since KB and LBJ play so many minutes and are obviously the best players on their team, their teams win a lot and they each have to play with not very good subs a lot (when the other regulars need to rest or are injured), this stat should even out some over the course of a season to provide a reasonably fair comparison.


  23. the other Stephen January 12, 2010 at 1:57 am

    3. j.d., do you have any idea how hard it was for me to stop playing that game??


  24. #4, Brian. You are absolutely right. If I had wanted to create a proper post, I would included velocity into the problem set.

    In fact, if a robot were shooting the ball, after lining up the shot (0 degree of error), it would also have to calculate the velocity vector, determining the force necessary in both the X and Y axis to project the ball in the optimum center of the hoop.

    My post simplified the problem and ignored the velocity and the angle (the loft). In real life, the problem is much harder because the degree of error is now in three different dimensions X, Y, and Z.

    So the task seems monumental even by a stationary robot. That Kobe is so accurate when the platform is jumping up and drifting backwards (and often, laterally too) with a Battier-like hand in his face is truly a marvel. The triumph of talent, practice, and muscle memory over the laws of physics.


  25. I would gladly sacrifice a couple of weeks so that Kobe gets his finger properly healed. It’s not like we have to catch up to the rest of the league in the W column (we’re actually ahead)!

    He should get it fixed and then the team could concentrate on getting the best record as we approach the playoffs…

    However, I can understand Kobe. When a guy wants to win, he never feels he should be sitting on the bench/stands to heal his ailments. I’ve been playing for more than a month with a broken toe and I’m no Kobe. (nor Adam Morrison) It’s up to Phil to ORDER him to rest.


  26. Kobe is hindering his team now. He doesn’t need to be playing with a broken finger… its an unnecessary sacrifice.

    With Gasol back and Bynum playing with spunk, Artest can assume a bigger role in the offense, along with Odom. With this kind of frontcourt, we just need to slow the pace and play half-court, pound the ball inside and work the cuts and screens.

    Needless to say, Kobe wont stop playing unless he breaks something bigger or has to appear in a court of law again.


  27. @harold
    I don’t doubt that in addition to what you listed, the biggest reason Kobe keeps playing with his injuries is because he thinks it’s the best thing to do. I just wish someone would tell him he’s wrong…


  28. @12 harold

    #5. Kobe knows the fans have come to see him play, and he intends to give them what they want.

    I vaguely remember Phil saying something to the effect of the players have an obligation to get out there for the fans. Maybe Kobe agrees. Personally I’d like to see him shoot less and facilitate more, or just sit out. These 30% nights are killing me.


  29. I personally don’t think we have a team that can win consistently in the Western Conference without even an injured Kobe. if we were playing the bottom feeder of the East I would say we could do without him for a little bit, but as talented as this team has been categorized, we couldn’t win too many games in the West if Kobe took a month long rest.


  30. He’s hit buzzer beating game winners with this injury, and shot well from the field plenty. The idea that this is NOW a problem only makes sense if you believe his finger injury has gotten substantially worse, which none of us have any evidence of (besides 3 bad nights — if he shoots 50% tonight against the spurs, is he off the hook? Come on.)

    But more importantly, I don’t get how any laker fan at THIS POINT in the Kobe arc (a dozen+ years in) wants to call this some sort of unusual selfishness. This is how Kobe is: when it’s working it’s fantastic, when it’s not you hope he posts or passes more. He’ll probably do both tonight.

    Here’s a fun experiment: assuming he needs 2 weeks off, try and identify a 2 week stretch at any point in the rest of the season where we wouldn’t likely lose 7 of 8 games if he’s not in. 8 losses at this stage is the spread between 1 and 8 seeds in the west. Not saying we wouldn’t get in to the postseason (probably as a 6 seed), but I kind of like home court against… everyone. From Denver to Houston, home court will help.


  31. Gr8 Scott — I will not go into that building! (The term “building” I use loosely). So I’ll sit on my couch and yell from afar, just taking some peace knowing the boys are in town. Enjoy the game… I’ll wave from the couch.


  32. great post! yes something has changed since the injury.
    First, he got hit on the finger against phoenix and then again houston (where it started, its actually 4 nights of bad shooting).
    Second, we now know that besides the fracture, the middle knuckle is not doing so well.
    Third we know, he’s been playing around with the splint and the material around the finger in order to improve his ballhandling.
    We all know Kobe won’t stop shooting; it’s part of his mentality of go big or fail big. Its seems that his attitude has been rubbing on Shannon lately so I won’t complain about it. however, I wish he would go back to the original splint. I can live with the turnovers but not the awful shooting.


  33. Texas Rob – thanks. I don’t know why, but I think we might be meeting up with Dallas for the WCF and I want to get a good handle on the AA Arena. As for the spurs, well their arena is a dump, but since there will be a few thousand Laker fans in attendance, it should be fun. I hope we show up, because the local media is saying this is a big test for the silver and black. Go Lakers!


  34. Even IF Kobe were to sit out and “heal on company time,” don’t you think he would be hitting the gym hard, working out, shooting, etc.? You can’t keep this guy away from the game! He knows his limits, and I trust Phil to make the right call on this.


  35. Kobe should just do a Ronnie Lott (I think it was him) and chop off the finger. Total recovery time: 1 week. Problem solved.

    Heck, maybe Gasol should try the same on his hammie. Problem solved there too.

    Finally, same goes for Artest’s head. Problem gone.

    Now that I solved all of our problems, lets chat about the next game.


  36. Manny, dajuan Blair plays without ACL’s so maybe you have a point.

    I don’t often praise henry abbot. (where’s dex by the way) but his post today about the Celtics’ dirty play hits the mark and similar to various discussions on this site.


  37. Bill, excellent post, it even got a plug by one of the Kamenetzky brothers at Land O’ Lakers

    Lets hope that Kobe has his touch tonight


  38. Kobe’s not going to sit out because he knows how impressive those 82 game seasons look on the resume.

    Taking velocity and everything else into account, it makes me that much more impressed with Ray Allen’s shot. The guy is not only astoundingly accurate, but has one of the quickest releases in the league (which I assume affects the ball’s velocity). Whether it goes in or not his shot is a work of art every time.


  39. I am not sure if anyone watched the Cavs-Warriors game last night, but putting aside the fact that the Cavs show a tendency to let teams get back into the game, they play a really efficient team game, with lock down interior defense.

    That and the fact that LeBron is doing a better job than Kobe (this year) in terms of measuring the game, and knowing when he should be scoring, working mismatch opportunities, zoning in on defense or being a facilitator, and they are a much more complete team this year, with the full compliment of looks that the Lakers can only tout on paper (i.e., it’s not showing up on the floor night in, night out).

    Obviously, none of this is a surprise to anyone who watched us get creamed on Christmas, but whereas the Celts feel on the precipice of a slide down with age and injuries, the Cavs are scary good, which as a Lakers fan I like, as it keeps our guys from getting complacent.


  40. What’s tough to figure out (and what we probably won’t figure out) regarding Kobe’s play-through-the-injury decision is the impact on the team.

    On one side, you could argue that the team is thinking, “Hey Kobe, this is hurting us on the court. Take a rest, get healthy, and we’ll handle these next few games. Trust us.” In this case, the onus is on Kobe and Phil.

    On another side, they could be thinking, “Thank God for Kobe, who knows how bad this would be without him.”

    And finally, the ideal (and in my mind, likely) scenario: “This guy is going through torture for the sake of the team. Injuries cannot be an excuse…I’ve gotta step it up.”


  41. 36, just read that, seems as though he’s finally catching on what everyone else has seen over the past 2 years.

    The Celtics are a bunch of dirty basketball players who make progressively harsher and harsher fouls, until they reach a point at which they themselves believe that Flagrant 1 fouls are totally ok. That’s why I say, if the Celtics are gonna play dirty, someone needs to send Rondo to the ground, or Paul Pierce back into his wheelchair.

    For the most part, I don’t advocate physical basketball; I love it as a free-flowing game. But I do advocate tit-for-tat, so if the Celtics choose to play dirty, it seems totally legitimate to me to hit them hard.


  42. #41(Zephid),
    I’ve been saying that for years! 🙂

    If they want to dish it out, fine, but only if they are willing to take it. That is, to me, the biggest difference between Utah’s physical play and the Celtics. If you pay Utah back in kind, you don’t see them moan and cry about the refs stealing the game from them. Well, at least you don’t hear the players and coaching staff moan and cry. Fans everywhere will be fans, but at least the players on the Jazz seem to be more okay with being the target of hard fouls than the Celtics do.

    It just occurred to me that playing the Celtics is another reason we brought in Artest, for the extra physicality. What worries me is if there is one game where we can almost be guaranteed he’ll blow up and explode, it would be after three and a half quarters of being manhandled, bullied and beaten in Boston…


  43. I thought that’s why we signed Mbenga. The guy’s a 7-foot 300-pound black belt in judo. And he’s our 5th big, so no danger of a key player getting ejected. If there was ever a player made for dishing out hard fouls, Mbenga is it.

    I’m not advocating it except in extreme cases, but we need someone to pound back against Perkins or send Pierce to the floor. Just enough to make them think twice before entering the paint.


  44. thisisweaksauce January 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Mark (39),

    I understand what you mean. We just haven’t seen that complete team game (primarily offensively… defensively we’re good) that we saw from the Lakers last season (Game 6 WCF, anyone?) this season. But once we start playing that game, we are almost unbeatable. I believe that Kobe, with his more diverse skill set, is more dangerous than LeBron when he measures the game. When Kobe does it, the defense absolutely does not know how to defend when both Kobe and the rest of the Lakers are running on all cylinders. For example (from the perspective of a defender… let’s say Denver), should I try to deny the post pass to Gasol? Pull up 3 by Kobe. What if a double team Kobe near half-court? Ball movement leading the Gasol-Odom interior passing for a bucket. Try to cut off paint for Kobe? Light penetration, then kick out to Ariza (now Artest) for a wide-open 3. The Magic last season were able to plan for LeBron in the ECF. They eventually cut off the paint (LeBron’s money area). LeBron finally got frustrated, and it became 1v5 in late game situations. So they lost. In the Finals, the Magic claimed that defending LeBron would help them plan for Kobe. It didn’t quite work that way; they lost. One of the main reasons? Kobe’s skill from midrange (he may very well be the best midrange jump shooter the game has ever seen). Off Kobe-Gasol PnRs, Kobe burned them again and again off those midrange jumpers at which he is simply so good. So they tried stop that. Dribble penetration for a score, an And 1, or a dump off to Gasol in the paint. When the Lakers finally figure it out (they should start watching video of last season), it will be a beauty to watch.


  45. I’ve just watched the Celts v Hawks game NBA broadband replay after reading Abbot’s excellent piece. And he is absolutely right.

    What astounded me is that Heinsohn is allowed by the league to say the things he does.

    “The refs are giving the game to the Hawks”

    “This is the worst officiated game, I’ve seen in a long time”

    “The refs want the Hawks to get back into the game”, basically evoking one of Donaghy’s allegations.

    and on and on and on…

    If a coach said even one of Heinsohn’s numerous statements, he’d be fined at least 25k. If Cuban said one, he’d be fined 250k.

    I assume Heinsohn is an employee of the Celtics and just as responsible for conduct as any other employee. More than any coach or owner, Heinsohn has the microphone, literally. It really is (or should be) embarrassing for any Celtic fan. If Stu and Joel behaved this way, I’d be calling for them to be fired.


  46. I don’t think we need an enforcer. There is more than one way to skin a cat and I think both the Celtics and our Lakers approach the concept from different perspectives. In a way, the contrast between Boston and the Lakers is the same contrast that existed between the Bad Boy Pistons and MJ’s Bulls. Both teams were successful playing a style that fit their personnel and the mentality of their players.

    In the end, physical toughness not only means the ability to dish out a hard foul, but it means being able to take a hard foul and come back with just as much intent and strength as the previous play where you took the hit. It means not backing down from the contact even if you’re not the initiator. Menatal toughness is also a variable in this equation. You need the right combination of both in order to win. I think Boston has it. I also know that the Lakers have it.

    On a side note, the Celtics lost that game to the Hawks. Doc Rivers and a top assistant both got tossed from the game arguing calls (including the call that Henry posted about) and the C’s unraveled and lost to Atlanta for the 3rd consecutive time this season. I do think the C’s tactics work. But as a team, the Celtics are successful for many more reasons outside of their roughhouse play. They also have the requisite skill to play this game at a high level. Like I said, there are multiple ways to get a job done, but whatever approach you take, you better have all of the ingredients that make up a good team.


  47. I’d like to dish out hard fouls once in a while though. Especially one that locks Pierce’s mouth shut. How many enforcers in NBA history have been 300-pound black belts? We have gold sitting on our bench.

    I’m sure everyone’s seen this already, but this is semi-funny. Jennings got trolled by some Laker fan pretending to be Farmar:


  48. Re: celts toughness. If it gets bad in a game, I’m sure fisher will just Scola rondo to the floor.
    I think Kobe will sit if his finger gets worse.
    Teams gameplan for Kobe, broken finger or not, and he is quite necessary for the lakers. Though I believe pay gasol is the lakers most importan player in terms of running the triangle, teams focus on Kobe first am everyone else second.

    Though from my observations, it seems that a defensive gameplan would be pretty simple. Double Kobe, close out on all other players to bad early shooting, then triple team Kobe when he gets in “I hav to bring the team back” mode. If the other lakers miss and lose early confidence, then the plan works.

    So no Kobe. Don’t stop playing until the finger really needs u to stop.


  49. @thisisweaksauce, great points. One other variable for the Lakers is that no one is consistently hitting their threes, which further mucks up our spacing.

    Long season, so too early to get too agitated, but worth noting is that two seasons ago, it was clear that the Celts were on a mission, and we know how that ended. Last season, when Bynum went down, the Lakers had the killer road trip when they found their resolve, and we know how that ended.

    Cleveland just had their (early) rallying road trip, so just waiting for the Lakers to show theirs.

    One other thing that marked the Lakers for me last season that I have only seen twice this season is what I call the anaconda squeeze, a point in the third or fourth quarter where they literally squeeze the life out of the competition via a 17-2 type of run.

    THAT was Lakers basketball last year, and expecting/hoping to see that again once everyone’s healthy and the team finds its purpose.


  50. On another note from the GSW-Cavs game, how come I’m not hearing people mention how much time LeBron spent in the post last night? He was there the whole fourth quarter and, as usual, found Andy and Mo cutting to the basket with perfect passes. Besides that, he was backing down Magette and the new kid the Warriors called from the D-League- and either busted that fading jumper or countered with a freight train drop step to the hoop. Seriously, no union would permit their stevedores to unload anything that heavy. Don’t be surprised if Bynum winds up being the primary defender against LeBron if we meet them in the finals…. and I’m only sort of joking. Never mind his Karl Malone size and physique. There is something Barkley about what he do in the post. It’s like he’s some kind of 2.0 of every basketball player from last generation. Please don’t take this as LeBron love. I love the NBA and basketball. That kid is remarkable though.


  51. Darius,
    I would take it a step further… I actually think the Lakers are now a more physical team the then Celtics. Fisher over Rondo, Kobe over Allen, Artest over Pierce, Gasol over KG, and Perkins over Bynum. That is how the starting lineups play out as far as “physical” play. They only are have the muscle edge over us at Center.