Putting The Finger On Kobe’s Shooting Woes

Kurt —  January 11, 2010

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Kobe is in a shooting slump — 31.8% over the last three games from the field. He knows it, Phil knows it, you and I know it, other team’s scouts know it, there are probably nomads in Mongolia that know it.

Kobe talked about it after the game, and you can get some of the details of what he said in this story over at NBCLosAngeles. (They provide my press passes so they get the quotes and good stuff first.) Kobe and Phil both blamed the issue on him trying to find a comfortable way to deal with the avulsion fracture on the index finger of his shooting hand. Phil calls it his “prosthetic.”

The last three games, Kobe has played without a splint on the finger, just tape. He said it gave him a much better range of motion and feel, but that the finger was not strong enough so his shots keep coming up short. Heading into the Texas Two-Step this week of San Antonio and Dallas the splint is going back on, Kobe said. That should improve his shooting. Should.

Darius made a good point in the comments about Kobe:

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, the rest of the team picked up the slack. (Well, mostly on defense, where the Bucks shot like a team of Kobe’s. That was not a basketball game to store in the vault for future generations to cherish.) But without Gasol — who Kobe trusts — he is more willing to go into the “shoot out of the slump” mode than normal. Pau’s return should help (maybe this week, saw him walking at Staples last night and there was no limp or hesitation, not that you can tell much from that).

What does all this mean? Really, it means that the Lakers need to be healthy when the playoffs start. That remains the top factor in a repeat.

One other little not — something Wondahbap said in an email — that was not only the most aggressive but also the physically best Bynum has looked to me this season. He ran the floor more fluidly, and his leaping and timing for rebounds just seemed better. He was getting off the floor, well off the floor. Maybe that was motivated by the rumors around, although Bynum said he had never heard them and when told it was basically him for Bosh responded with a laughing “That’s crazy!” He then added he has heard so many rumors and things about himself over the years that he doesn’t really worry about such things anymore. I’d like to believe him. Maybe he had his best game because he’s 22 and got his touches early and was just up for tonight. Predicting him is nearly impossible. But the issue remains we need to see this Bynum when Gasol is in the lineup, not the one going through the motions.