Around the World (Wide Web): Kobe Struggles, Mbenga’s Eye

Phillip Barnett —  April 20, 2010

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers

From Silver Screen and Roll: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the biggest question facing the Los Angeles Lakers this postseason is whether or not they are capable of “flipping the switch”.  It matters a great deal, because over the past month or so, the Lakers have looked more like a lottery team than a champion.  If the Lakers are capable of willing themselves to dramatic improvement, through focus, effort, and execution, they remain at least a contender for the title, if not the favorite.  If their struggles were indicative of the team’s true “self”, the season will probably end sooner than we’re all comfortable with.

From the Los Angeles Times’ Lakers Blog (with Video): Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stood surrounded by a pack of reporters with cameras, tape recorders and questions. He stared back offering a subdued demeanor, quiet and clipped answers and barely let out a smile. The only time he let one out was when he was asked about D.J. Mbenga’s orange-tinted glasses after the reserve center’s recent eye surgery, before offering a simple “They’re nice” response.

From the Los Angeles Times: The emotions used to express the mood of the Lakers would be as varied as their two most recognizable faces Monday. Kobe Bryant would be the frowning icon, continuing to act unhappy around teammates and the media. “I’m just moody today, I guess,” he said between terse, monosyllabic answers to reporters’ questions. A bit later, the smiley face of the group, Coach Phil Jackson, grabbed a remote control to turn down a too-loud TV in an interview room before sitting down with the media.

From Land O’ Lakers (with video): Not Kobe Bryant, center of the Laker universe. Nor Andrew Bynum, whose return played a key role in Sunday’s victory. It wasn’t even D.J. Mbenga, whose future is so bright, he’s gotta wear shades. (Yes, technically speaking, the orange-tinted shades are more about protecting D.J.’s eye than a bright future, but if you think I’d turn down an easy Timbuk3 reference, frankly, you don’t know me. While he’s not officially cleared yet for action on Tuesday, Mbenga said he’s feeling better and seemed in good spirits. When I mentioned how he and Jack Nicholson are now the coolest guys in Staples with their indoor sunglasses, D.J. busted out a big laugh.)

From Land O’ Lakers: When you see a photo of a Lakers player dressed in his purple and gold on the court in a newspaper, magazine or on a Web site, odds are it came from the lens of the camera of one man: Andy Bernstein. Bernstein is the Lakers official team photographer and has been with the franchise for nearly three decades. He is also a senior photographer for the NBA and has chronicled everything from a regular season game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves in March, to all six of Michael Jordan’s championships with the Bulls. Bernstein chatted with looking back at the pictures that have illustrated his career. 10 Questions with Andy Bernstein …

From the OC Register: The NBA isn’t all glamour and bright lights. Day in and day out for nearly six months, Lakers players and coaches go over strategies, scouting reports and watch film. Then they run the court, practicing offensive moves and defensive schemes. After all the running, they engage in several minutes of free throw shooting and full-court drills. Then in comes the media, who want to know all the minute details of how the Lakers plan to stop their opponents. Monday was no different, except for the number of reporters and TV cameramen.

From NBA Fan House: If Kobe Bryant is still standing in mid-June, his fifth trophy held in his hurting hand and his march to match Michael Jordan’s six titles still on track, this is one championship that won’t have been won on his Atlas-like back. It’s his middle finger that will have carried the weight of his world. And that, make no mistake, would be perfectly poetic.

This is a great post on the Artest-Durant battle from The Daily Thunder (with video): I think we can all agree that Ron Artest did a terrific job on Kevin Durant yesterday. KD went just 7-24 from the floor and took eight 3-pointers, hitting only one. He took almost all jumpers, and never looked comfortable. A lot of it had to do with some visible nerves early in the game, but most of it was because of Artest just being a pest. He was disruptive in every way, pushing, pulling and grabbing Durant around every corner. Here are five plays Durant was stopped and on the end, one successful trip down the floor.


Phillip Barnett


to Around the World (Wide Web): Kobe Struggles, Mbenga’s Eye

  1. Going back to the Bynum/Noah comparisons, yeah Noah’s great but Bynum’s a keeper.

    Speaking of which, his move on the Thunder PF wasn’t the first time ‘Drew’s been frisky on the court. As a reminder, check the video “Bynum Dunk on Shaq Easy” on youtube. Let’s hope they see a lot of minutes facing off in The Finals this year.


  2. This is a question I raised in the last post but didn’t get answered:
    ppl like to complain about Fisher unable to stay in front of speedy PGs. How did Magic Johnson stay in front of speedy PGs in the 80s? He’s freaking 6’9, and could play Center when he wants to! I know he’s long and all, but still. I know Trever had time against Tony Parker last season, but there’s probably a reason Phil only did it for a game.


  3. Re Magic chasing speedy point guards:

    He didn’t. (And, needless to say, DFish ain’t no Earvin Johnson.) Steve Nash (to use another example) isn’t a defensive whiz either.

    Obviously Fisher’s “O” isn’t so integral to Laker success that we can overlook his “D”.


  4. I think some of you are overlooking what Fish is in the game for.

    He doesn’t get overly aggressive on defense and, therefore, doesn’t compromise the defense with the opposing PG’s first move.

    He can hit clutch shots

    But, most of all, he can organize the triangle offense – like Luke does for the 2nd unit.

    It is his job to keep the system offense running — and that is where I have the biggest problem with him this year.

    Most of the remainder of the comparisons are to different teams (Magic) or different systems (Tony Parker).


  5. 2. When Magic was assigned to guard a quick PG, he laid off and dared them to shoot 20-footers. He used to play Tim Hardaway that way. Other times, either Byron Scott or Michael Cooper guarded the quick PG. Interestingly enough, I like the idea of a tall PG in the triangle, and wouldn’t mind the Lakers going in that direction for next season.


  6. Fisher is a good defender in specific situations. He is excellent defending against a 2 on 1 fast break, and he is excellent at drawing charges around the basket.

    As far as Magic goes… I really don’t remember any lightning fast guards playing back then. Not guys as fast as Parker, Roy, Curry, Rose, etc. Maybe a few folks here will refresh my memory…

    The newer rules have not only changed the way perimeter defense works, but those changes have ushered in a new drafting paradigm.

    How many good guards have been drafted in the last three years? Twenty? Twenty-five?

    The vast majority of recent draft picks are not based primarily on skill, but on athletic ability.


  7. Regarding Magic and overall PG defense for the league, wasn’t hand checking allowed back then too?

    Defenders were allowed to be more physical, body up on guards and also use a bit of stiff arm or hand checking. That’ll slow down even the fastest guards. Especially if the defender is stronger.

    Been a while since I looked at games from the 80’s though. Anyone recall?


  8. RE Magic’s defense: Yes his size helped. He could lay off smaller guards (pretty much every guard he played against) and use his superior height and reach to contest shots. Realize too that even when Magic was beat off the dribble, he had Jabbar as a back line defender and that made it so players often pulled up for short jumpers after getting by Magic. This allowed him to recover and block a lot of shots from behind. As for the quick guards that played in his era – Isaiah Thomas, Tiny Archibald, Norm Nixon, Kevin Johnson, Michael Adams, Mark Price, and Mo’ Cheeks to name a few. Understand though that the three point line was much less of a (used) weapon in that era and the overall lack of high quality shooters that were also quick meant that Magic could lay off opponents even further without the threat of giving up the long ball. Then, you combine that with the hand checking rules that favored defenders and he had other advantages that he could use. But, Magic was not a great one on one defender, but rather a pretty good team defender. He has a career average of almost 2 steals a game and his BBIQ made it so he understood team D concepts very well. I have no doubt that if he played today, he’d be effective but would not be making any all defensive teams.