Lakers/Pistons: Beatdown Delivered, Lakers On The Good Side This Time

Darius Soriano —  January 4, 2011
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Lakers play well it really is a sight.  The ball moves, the players have fun, and the baskets seem to come in bunches.  When the Lakers play well and the opponent plays terribly, you have tonight’s contest against the Pistons.  The Lakers demolished the Pistons 108-83 and pretty much dominated them in all phases.  For one night, at least, this game puts the bad play in the rearview mirror and serves as a reminder of how much talent the Lakers have and what that talent can do when it starts to click.  Plus the Staples Center crowd were able to be on the cheering side of a blowout for a change.

The game started out just as it should have with the Lakers pounding the ball inside.  Lakers big men scored 13 of the team’s first 16 points by exploiting their size advantage in the paint.  And Andrew Bynum led the way, making his first four shots over and around Ben Wallace’s attempted defense.  Bynum showed the size, skill, and power of the elite Center prospect that we all know he can be.  On his first possession he caught the ball on the right block, drop stepped baseline, up faked, stepped through and put down a dunk.  The move showed patience and an understanding of how to attack an undersized defender that likes to block shots and was another example of how quickly he’s getting his legs and timing back after returning from his knee surgery just 10 games ago.

But soon after getting his 8th point, Bynum was ushered to the bench with foul issues and with his departure went the Lakers interior defense.  Right after the big man had to sit, the Pistons immediately started to attack the rim and had good success breaking down the Lakers defense by getting into the paint.  A rejuvenated Tracy McGrady led the way with throwback dribble-drive attacks where he’d swoop in and finish with his left hand right at the rim.  After the Lakers compensated by sagging their defense to deny driving lanes, T-Mac then went into distributor mode hitting back door cutters and teammates coming off screens for open shots.  To make matters worse, when Bynum came back in at the start of the 2nd quarter, he immediately picked up his 3rd foul and had to sit for the rest of the half.  This allowed the Pistons to continue their interior success and it culminated in a close game at the half with the Lakers only leading by 2.

However, in the 2nd half the Pistons would have no such luck of keeping the game close.  In the third period the Lakers turned up their defensive pressure, this time not relying only on Bynum to do the heavy lifting.  The Lakers wings pressured ball handlers and both Bynum and Gasol protected the paint well.  On offense, the Lakers went with a diversified attack that built on their first half success in the post.  Ron and Fisher started the third with back to back 3 pointers on good ball movement.  After Kobe and Pau hit some free throws, Ron got a steal, pushed the ball up court, hit a trailing Kobe for a dunk to push the Lakers’ lead to 13 and the rout was on.  The 3rd period would end with the Lakers putting up 31 points while holding the Pistons to 14 and they never looked back.

The rest of the game was spent with the Lakers only continuing to pile on with strong execution that led to them getting whatever they wanted on offense.  Excellent ball movement led to easy buckets from all over the floor and was capped off with multiple highlight level plays (including several dunks) from Shannon, Bynum, and Odom.  My favorite play of the night, though, wasn’t a dunk at all.  It came on a wonderful whip pass from Kobe to Gasol where Pau made a splendid catch and finish that really showed off his great hands.

Speaking of Kobe, #24 reached another milestone as he passed the Human Highlight Reel, Dominique Wilkins on the all-time NBA scoring list.  Bryant now stands alone in 10th place and continues to add to his already amazing resumé.  The deciding basket came on a classic Kobe drive where he weaved through traffic and then challenged Ben Wallace and ultimately flipped the ball up and in.

But even with Kobe passing another legend, this game was all about the team.  Every Laker that played scored (save for Matt Barnes who went 0-2 on the night) and every player contributed to the win.  The Lakers played good defense in the 2nd half and put forth a dominating performance that I think we’ve all been looking for lately.  And while it was against a team that’s quite bad (and played even worse) that matters little when you consider how the Lakers have been playing lately.  And really, considering how the game was actually close at the half, for the Lakers to finish the game with a 25 point lead speaks to the level of execution they exhibited in that final 24 minutes.  The positives they showed in this game reflect that they’ve worked on and emphasized some of their recent shortcomings (a prime example being the 6 turnovers they committed after coughing the ball up 20 times against the Grizz) and it’s always a positive when a team can turn take those lessons onto the court with them.  Now, all we need is for them to put a bit of streak together by playing this way consistently.

Darius Soriano

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42 responses to Lakers/Pistons: Beatdown Delivered, Lakers On The Good Side This Time

  1. That’s right, I completely forgot this was only a 3 pt difference at half time. Outscoring any team by an average of 11 pts a quarter during one half is legit, even if they’re bad or not. Either way good to see some life, including a Luke Walton sighting!

  2. thisisweaksauce January 5, 2011 at 1:27 am

    Alright ForumBlueandGolders, do you think Drew has lost the nickname “The Black Hole”? It looks like he really has the mindset of passing when he doesn’t have something to the basket (i.e., being double-teamed). For example, he made a beautiful bounce pass to a cutting Shannon Brown last night. Another is the pass under the rim to Lamar. I think it is something he has consciously worked on. Or do you guys need more evidence?

  3. There are three things I believe are essential if LA plans to make a push in the West(not in any particular order). Assists per game(team), less turnovers, and points in the paint. If the team can get a handle on these three aspects of the game it would make life so much easier on th court. Having everyone involved offensively creates confidence and the energy is transformed to the defensive side of the court as well.

    I know I have been hard on Kobe recently about his shot selection, but its only been in the context of which the team has played. With LA playing at a slower pace, getting less possessions per game over the course of this funk. His chucking was a bigger problem than what it created earlier in the season or in years past when the team had 100 or more possesions per game without blinking an eye. I will be more than happy when the team gets to a point during the season where Mr. Bean can chuck away and it doesnt have such devastating effects on the team as a whole. But until then, lets hope he can put the guns back into the holster until the offense and defense can catch up with his trigger finger again.

  4. Double post:

    PPS(Points Per Shot Per Game):
    LA
    Kobe – 1.279
    Gasol – 1.342
    Bynum – 1.523( small sample size)
    Odom – 1.420
    League
    Bron – 1.419
    Wade – 1.439
    Dirk – 1.468
    Durant – 1.409
    Pierce – 1.444
    Manu – 1.430

    #24 not even cracking 1.3 points per shot, when the top players in the league are at a 1.4 or better. WAKE UP!

  5. From the game thread:

    “I am interested in finding out if there is a correlation between kobe chucking and nights where kobe is on the verge of passing someone on the scoring list.”

    We’ll see next game, since Kobe sits at 26,671 and Oscar sits at 26,710. So if he goes for 40 he passes Oscar.

    Hakeem is then next at 26,946, then the Big E at 27,313, and then Moses at 27,409. So there will be more than one occasion this year to test the hypothesis, as he is sure to pass all of those folk by the end of the season (he simply need put up a 20 PPG over 40 games to add 800 to his above total).

  6. DirtySanchez

    sure he’s missing lots of shots contributed, but Kobe has also cut down on 3’s, and he’s not getting as many calls driving to the rim (which in itself is rare now) so he doesn’t get too many freebies that bump his stats.

    definitely a sign he’s aging, but not something i’d lose sleep over.

    yet.

  7. harold,
    The point is that the team, and Kobe, needs to rely on Kobe less, and take advantage of the matchups that are more favorable.

  8. I’m excited about the way we played, but I don’t think anyone can disagree that the Pistons are a bad bad team. They played with no heart out there.

    Positives I took from the game are that we played good solid defense and we even got transition points which has been hard to come by this season for us.

    Also, I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but Kobe looked like he did in his younger days in the pick and roll. Someone must have talked to him about this, because he was getting low to the ground to make it difficult to swipe at the ball when going around the screen and he was basically killing the Pistons on each pick and roll senario. I don’t know what to make of it because once again, the Pistons are a bad bad team.

  9. 3, he’s only been back for a handful of games now, but I haven’t seen a post entry pass seem like an object going through an event horizon. He seems to have better court vision now, not on Gasol’s level, but he’s at least looking for cutters on the block now, compared to before when he was very Shaq-like in his, “ok cutters, run through, now it’s MY TURN!” attitude.

    When the Laker passing is good, the Laker winning is good.

  10. 3) I agree – he is going to demand double teams, or at least second defenders shading towards him. If the teammates (in particular Gasol, Odom, and Kobe, with their ability to create shots on the move) take advantage of that and move appropriately, and Bynum looks for those passes, they are unstoppable on offense. All the more reason for the team to ge the ball inside!

  11. ex, it’s not that Kobe needs to do less.

    It’s that others have to do MORE.

    Kobe is a willing passer, especially if he sees a basket down the line. Trouble is, others rarely present him with that kind of movement or promise, with the exception of Fisher, who will actually go try to get his to give semblance of a balanced offense instead of watching Kobe all the time.

    Pau needs to call for his more instead of forcing others to find him. Bynum, even with his black-hole-ness, is actually better at this than Pau, and Kobe tries to recognize this – which is why we see Bynum ‘dominate’ at a higher percentage of games played than Pau.

    In a way Pau is like Odom, who stubbornly won’t look for his when they are obviously at their best rolling to the basket or driving hard to it with their size and control. We just need them to be a tad bit more demanding – not by words but by actions.

  12. DirtySanchez & exhelodrvr,
    If you had Looked At the games you would see when Kobe’s shooting outbursts happened, not just that they happened. There are actual studies about this: http://www.littlewhitestatistics.com/?cat=7 and they confirm what simple game statistics do not.

    Kobe shoots when the team is in trouble, or when he is guarded 1-on-1. The fact that he is more often guarded 1-on-1 these days speaks to his hand injuries, rather than to any decline in his skills. The fact that he dunks less indicates mileage on his legs – the fact that he still dunks in traffic means he isn’t near the end of his rope.

    His game has no holes – except those he creates – and at his basketball mileage that means he is one of the more intelligent and skilled players to ever step on the court. Frankly, there are other players playing today who have better talent, but skill and smarts; he is at the top of the pile.

    You guys don’t like the junkyard dog mentality, but that’s just how he is built. Me, I can live with him for a few more years.

  13. Craig,
    You keep confusing “junkyard dog mentality” with trying to do too much on his own on offense.

  14. For all the ‘old’ talk and all the questions about his finger, anyone else notice that Kobe leads the league in points per 48 min (by a full 2 pts)?

    He finds a way to get it done and is the best in the business. Period.

  15. Harold

    My point was not to compare Kobe now too Kobe of two or three years ago.We all can see that Kobe cant do what he could do when he was younger, age does that to all mortals. A midrange jumpshooter and postup player, #24 has become more reliant on those aspects of his game than in years past when he was more of a slasher(10 trips to the free throw line a night player).

    It was too shine a light on the difference in TEAM play and how it effects the TEAM as a whole as his game has evolved and the players around him has evolved. No longer is their a B. Cooke, K. Brown, or C. Mihm at the scores table looking to check into the game, but a LO, Gasol, or Bynum.

    The chucker needs too stay in the closet longer, and when in chucker mode, shorter periods of time during the course of a game. The points per game and accolades of being a scorer will be there, but the W’s will be few far and between.

    If Mr. Bean wants to win in the current state of this particular team(post size advantage) he will have to adapt his game so the TEAM can use this weapon at its disposal. . If not he will turn LA’s greatest advantage against any team in the league into a weakness by chucking up shot after shot in the name of trying to energize them. When in reality he is doing just the opposite with a team that is capable of handling the load themselves when given a chance.

    Kobe is not the only culprit on the team, wouldnt want to single him out for fear of being labled a basher, from Fish to ShanWoW all have had a case of the chucks this year at some point. Time to live in the moment and not dwell on past success or failure, because the future knows the truth.

  16. Criticsism of Kobe isn’t invalid, but it still needs to be balanced by the fact that he’s still very good at the game. His per 36 minutes numbers are better than last year with only a marginal drop in FG% the only real declining stat (though is turnovers are up too and that’s important to note).

    My only trouble with some of the talk surrounding Kobe is that sometimes both sides to the argument aren’t really explained. Many say we need to go inside as that is the strength of our team. And for the most part I agree with that (I say it in every game preview that I write). But, Kobe is also a strength of our team, right? I don’t think anyone would say he’s washed up or incapable of affecting a game (to be clear, no one on this board is saying that) and I think you’d be hard pressed to find 2-3 other wing players in the league as good as he is today (that list is probably Lebron and Wade with Durant right there as well). Kobe is an elite player.

    So, I think what we all want is a balance struck. Last night, if you only looked at the boxscore, you might think that Kobe was in gunner mode. His inefficient scoring and relatively high FGA number would lead many to believe that he played a poor game. However, when I was watching I was tremendously pleased that he attacked as much as he did and how often he got into the lane against every defender that Detroit sent at him. I mean 12 of his 18 FGA’s came inside of 10 feet, with 8 of those coming right at the rim (he made 4 and had several layups that didn’t fall). So, I’d argue that Kobe played a very good game last night with the results turning out not the way anyone could rationall expect considering what type of shots he was getting.

    One last point and then I’ll stop. I’ve always maintained that the strength of our team is the versatility of our bigs AND Kobe. It’s a partnership. Neither side is as effective without the other. The bigs get that extra bit of space whenever Kobe is on their side and defenses react to him wherever he moves on the court. If he passes into the post and just stays ball side, it’s nearly a guarantee that any double team will be coming from the weak side. That helps that big’s decision making a great deal. When Kobe cuts from the weak side, defenders jump to cover up his lane and that opens up another opportunity for a counter by the big man with the ball. The inverse is also true in that when Kobe plays two man game with any Laker big or when the ball goes into the post, the defense has to honor and respect that big man’s ability and that gives Kobe the extra space to operate that every great player craves. Again, it’s a partnership where both sides are greatly needed for team success. I just wish more comments would reflect that rather than saying that “Kobe needs to change” – because that’s not really the case as it’s much more nuanced than that.

  17. Darius,
    Kobe could conceivably end up with more shots, almost a guarantee that he would end up with a higher shooting percentage, if they go inside more. Because other teams will have to adjust, and the ball will end up getting back to Kobe with the defense not geared toward him.

  18. #18. That’s entirely possible. It’s also entirely possible that Kobe look to be aggressive early in the clock like he was last night by penetrating in early offense when the defense isn’t quite set when using drag screens and when taking advantage of collapsing defenses when the bigs run the floor.

    All I’m saying is there’s plenty of ways to get to the same result which is a more efficient offense. Last night the Lakers scored as efficiently as they had in a month (in an 85 possession game they scored 103 points) and that was with Kobe missing bunnies in the paint.

    I don’t think we’re disagreeing in the end, I’m just saying that you seem to be asking for some super shift of how the offense is played I think the adjustments could be much more subtle with still getting to the same result. In other words, the ball must go inside but Kobe must remain a threat with the ball in his hands. Can’t be both on every possession and any one way too often isn’t going to ideal. Balance means more than shot distribution it also means *how* a team attacks. In some games the team hasn’t been there and I’ll easily admit that. I think it also needs to be stated that the ball has gone inside in past games and the success rate hasn’t been there.

    But we can agree that both sides need each other, right?

  19. Craig W.

    I do watch the games and Im not relying on some numbers to tell me what I see. Im not trying to dispute #24’s grace under fire or calm in the damning of thunderstorms. Im talking about the effect it has on the TEAM because everyone is out of rhythm through his need to take over the game to provide energy for all. Phil has stood on his soap box for the media in the past two weeks entirely on this subject. Kobe cant create the energy for others to use, it has to be manifested from within each individual player. If Pau seems unmotivated during the course of the game, does taking more shots change his activity level. Feeding him the ball and daring him to kick it out until he does something with it could. Kobe has shown an impatients this year like at no other time in the past 3 to 4 years.

    Games have been in a manageable 6 to 10 point range only for him to go into hero mode only cause he didnt feel the teams energy level was up to par. What number of points down is considered trouble, thats the problem I have with those statistics. Five to ten points in a NBA game is nothing, hero mode( couple of other chuckers mixed inbetween) then teams deficit balloons with no post player having touched the ball in three or four possessions. It happened in the Mil., Miami, Spurs, Memphis games that I recalled and has cost the team many more over the course of the season. All games within stiking distance only to press turbo at the wrong time.

  20. Darius

    I concur that a balance of power is what every fan is searching for. Kobe and the Towers are what makes this engine hum with one feeding off the other for maximum efficiency. My take is the elite teams( Miami, Boston, Spurs) dont have too double Kobe as much as they have had too in the past. They are content in letting Kobe be his own worst enemy. But in the post these teams have no answer on a regular basis or they will get beat up making them have to make more of an adjustment in the post than on the perimeter. The Detroits, Minnesotas, and Golden States of the league its hard to argue that or strengths on the perimeter against them is going to win us games against the top dogs in April and June.

  21. We shouldn’t have counted out the defending champions just because they had a handful of embarrassing home losses. We should not start celebrating the three-peat just because they were able to blow out one very bad team whose tallest player is shorter than half our roster.

    Everything in moderation. :)

  22. I guess that running practice Jackson pushed on them paid off a little? haha good job Lakes

  23. I’m not sure I see where the kobe criticism is coming from. He’s the only person on this team who can still carry the load when others are faltering. Pau’s play has made it clear he can’t handle that mental and physical responsibility of leading the team – and he really doesn’t like to be touched or pushed in the post. Shannon’s reliance on his outside shot has put enough bricks for a mansion. Odom has played really well, but he’s more content to play second fiddle. Bynum still has a long way to go – he’s still getting back into shape. The rest of the guys are just struggling. So unless someone is advocating a trade, and I hope they’re not, we do have to rely on kobe.

  24. Good discussion, and I agree with Darius. My overall view is:

    1. Sometimes Kobe shoots too much.
    2. What makes Kobe Kobe is the diversity of his offensive game and his ability to create DIFFERENT kinds of shots.
    3. The Lakers need that threat to make Bynum and Gasol most effective.
    4. The Lakers need to make sure Bynum and Gasol TOUCH the ball a lot and are LOOKED AT a lot.
    5. The optimum number of shots for all the guys depends on game flow and matchups.

  25. I’d like to address an issue that is starting to really bug me this season. This new rule where refs can give out arbitrary T’s is becoming pretty stupid and it’s starting to affect my enjoyment of watching the NBA. It’s a (profane) sport. People, especially the players, are SUPPOSED to be passionate about it and care. Otherwise, all we see is the cold business aspect of professional sports. That’s why although I’m not a football fan, I appreciate the sport and the passion it brings.

    The change enabling refs to be gunslingers this season with T’s has really got to stop. Refs are there to enforce the rules and stop cheating, not to sway games one way or the other. The players should be passionate while the refs remain emotionless and professional, and as much as possible, unseen and unintrusive. However, for some reason, whenever I catch a game lately (I also try to follow OKC since the move and Blake Griffin is making me pay attention to the Clippers this season) I get this feeling that the refs are way too intrusive, and sometimes seem like premadonnas with the way they call the fouls (sometimes in a really exaggerated fashion), and create drama and swing the tempo of the game. If my team just made a comeback by hitting a 3 ball after trailing all game and fighting and clawing back, I WANT my team emotional. I want them to high five and ride that energy. I WANT my team to talk trash to the other team and get into their heads. Yet the way things stand currently, this can lead to a T and throw off my team’s comeback win.

    Some really great moments with Jordan involve him sinking a j in an opponent’s face or taking it strong to the hole and making a tough shot through a swarm of defenders and jawing about it to someone as he jogs back to the other side of the court, yet if he did that now, those moments would either not exist or Jordan would receive a staggering amount of T’s, as he was (in)famous for his talk.

    The NBA (in my view), more than other professional sport, have refs who need to interpret the rules on the fly and constantly make judgement calls. Many people already do not like the NBA because of this aspect before this rules change. Now I feel that this change it’s also starting to affect the people who are currently fans, pushing them away and even further alienating people from becoming new fans of the sport.

    Can anyone tell me exactly what this new rule with the refs/T’s is, and why they felt the need to create the rule in the first place?

    Sorry for the long rant.

    TL:DR version: I really hate the new rule involving the seemingly rampant use of technical fouls and wish I could call a technical foul on the refs in real life.

    /rant off

  26. Mimsy’s Hubby (Jim C.) January 5, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Small typo in the article.

    Final score for the Pistons should say 83 instead of 93.

  27. Mimsy’s Hubby (Jim C.) January 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Thanks Darius.

    Since the subject has come up, here’s my take on the Kobe factor that’s dominated the comments so far.

    I like poker, and one of the things that a smart poker player knows is that you don’t necessarily focus on the RESULTS of a particular action so much as whether an action was the right decision or not. The reasoning is that there is randomness applied to results.

    So if you put all your money into the middle of the table and have an 85% chance of winning the hand and end up losing, you don’t revisit the decision on whether or not putting your money into the pot was the right move or not. The decision was right when you made it and, unfortunately, you just ended up getting unlucky.

    Too much of the conversation in the current thread has revolved around the fact that Kobe shot poorly in the game and not enough around whether the shots were the correct decisions at the time.

    There are games where Kobe can flat-out shoot us out of it. And there are games when the team is playing poorly and the best choice, percentage wise, is to let Kobe “break” the offense, gun away, and try and drag this team to a win when they aren’t feeling it.

    Tonight was neither of those. It was simply a time when Kobe was taking good shots and wasn’t making them.

    To me, it’s not enough simply to look at the number of shots that Kobe takes, the number that Pau takes, and determine based on that if one person is shooting too much and the other is shooting too little. You have to watch the game and see where the shots are coming from. Are they within the flow of the offense? Did Kobe give up on his teammates too early or was he forced to take over to give us a shot at winning? Was Pau making aggressive moves when he got the ball in the post or was it going down there, being held for 5-6 seconds, and then tossed back out to the perimeter again? Is Lamar focused and aggressive or passive on a given night? Is Brown working within the offense or launching contested fadeaways?

    Getting back to my poker analogy, you focus on what was the CORRECT DECISION at the time and not the results on whether or not Kobe shot 6-18 or 13-18. There have been times when Kobe is taking flat-out bad shots, but they’re dropping for him. (One of the games against Phoenix in the playoffs last year comes to mind.) And there are times when he’s taking good shots but they just aren’t falling. (Like last night.)

    Every once in a while, Kobe lets it get personal and he gets into duels that are counterproductive. He’ll probably never break this habit entirely. No player is perfect. But I think most of the time since Pau joined the team, Kobe has made the right choices on when to be a soulless gunner and when to be a facilitator.

  28. An All-Star dunk contest without Nate Robinson!!?!?! Does anyone know what temperature Hell is at the moment? :p

  29. Mimsy’s Hubby (Jim C.) January 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I’m actually disappointed by that news.

    I was looking forward to seeing Nate Robinson come out with Big Baby and the two of them dressed as Shrek and Donkey.

    Seeing a Donkey Masked Nate using a Shrek Masked Big Baby as a prop in a dunk would be entertaining as long as he didn’t take 135 attempts on his dunk. :-)~~

  30. @Mimsy’s husband. Completely agree about making the right decision. I play poker too and it’s a lot easier walking away from losing a pot if you know you made the right decision. Let the percentages happen.

    If the team continues to play the right way, it will work out in the long run. Sure there will be nights when the shots don’t fall or the opponent continues to make those long 2 pointers. But if you’re consistent in taking the right shots within the flow and forcing the other guy to take inefficient long 2 pointers, the small statistical variants won’t matter in the long run. You’ll walk away a winner more often than not.

    That’s what frustrates me the most when watching the team. I hate seeing a ton of stupid mistakes. I can live with the losses a lot better if it was just one of those nights. But not as much if the loss came because of poor decisions.

    Someone also brought up the point earlier about Bynum’s passing and maybe it was time to retire the black hole nickname. I always thought it was unfair to saddle him with such negativity.

    Bynum has shown progress in all aspects of his game every single year. He lacked experienced in learning how to pass since he couldn’t stay on the court enough. I always thought it was just a matter of time for him. He’s always improved the weaknesses in his game. Whether it was his pick and roll defense or his passing. A few years ago, he focused too much on his offense and not enough on defense and rebounding. After it was brought to his attention, he has now improved tremendously and works hard on both sides of the court. I just hope he can stay on the court.

  31. Only as long as none of them drools…

  32. Kobe and Lamar ran a few give and go’s last night that worked beautifully. Don’t know if it was within the triangle offense but I’d like to see more of it.

  33. Mimsy’s Hubby,
    I don’t think any of the conversation in this thread has been about the shots Kobe missed last night – this has been about the on-going issue with his tendency to go outside the offense, and whether that is ultimately good or bad for the team. That was not a problem in last night’s game.

  34. Mimsy’s Hubby,
    I loved your poker analogy. That is the exact problem I have with the stats geeks. I have a background in math and statistics and I can analyze with the best of them, but that doesn’t answer basketball questions – it only informs the questioner.

    The team is 12 players and several coaches. It is the interaction of all these people that determines how the team plays. Today one of Kobe’s true talents (not skill) is the ability to read his team and the game and take the appropriate action. One of his failings is that he doesn’t always know when to stop gunning, once he starts, but I am perfectly willing to live with this downside in order to have a player able to dominate a regular or playoff game when needed.

  35. Mimsy’s Hubby (Jim C.) January 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    exhelodrvr:

    But then it is still the same “chicken or the egg” style thing. I don’t dispute that Kobe has a tendency to go outside of the offense at times. What I question is how often he gets the timing right and goes outside of the offense for the good of the team vs. goes outside of the offense for his own stats/agenda.

    And this is where I think some surface analysis doesn’t always capture the full picture.

    For example, if one was to do a surface analysis of Gasol’s shot attempts from the early year when the Lakers were cruising to more recently when they’ve been struggling, one could see that Kobe’s shots have been up, Gasol’s have been down, and come to the conclusion that Kobe is hogging the ball to the detriment of the team.

    But from watching the games myself I, and others, have noticed that Gasol is still getting plenty of touches, but he hasn’t been very productive with his touches. It isn’t only his shooting percentage that has dropped, but also what happens to the offense when he hasn’t been shooting. Personally, I’ve noticed a drop-off in aggressiveness.

    Whether it is the ball entering and Gasol taking too long in his reads before tossing the ball out to the perimeter to not aggressively taking his defender off the dribble and instead settling for set shot jumpers, he hasn’t been as productive as he was early in the year. He’s still efficient and shooting a good percentage. Stats wise, this eyeball test isn’t showing that much, but from watching the games it’s clear that Gasol isn’t as productive now as he was earlier and I don’t think it is right to blame Kobe for Gasol’s drop in production.

    So a deeper analysis might conclude that Kobe is shooting more because he has had to.

    I’m not making an argument that Kobe is immune to criticism or that he sometimes doesn’t kill the team by taking over when he shouldn’t, but I’m also against superficial analysis that doesn’t look deeper than the box score stats.

  36. 26- Amen, brother.

    No one wants a repeat of the brawl in Auburn Hills. But the game should get a little testy sometimes. Passion will do that to players. These are grown men who play for keeps. If some of the newer fans can’t handle watching periodic displays of passion from pro ballers, then they need to turn off the NBA and turn on the Disney channel.

    Regarding Kobegate:
    I’m with Darius. Kobe has to be seen as a threat in order to give Pau and Drew the space they need. A certain degree of aggressiveness is mandatory from him if the Lakers are going to succeed. The day Kobe is no longer seen as a real threat is the day the Lakers are no longer contenders. At the same time the bigs have to touch the ball often. What we are seeing is the guys trying to find this very delicate balance. Some nights it will look better than others.

    This very good debate about Kobe’s role is showing us that Kobe and the team are transforming right before our eyes. Gone are the days when they could just get it done off the brilliance of Kobe and Pau. They truly need Bynum now. They need those other guys to come through much more often now. It probably be hit and miss for a while until they get it down.

    Another observation:
    Does anyone notice the Spurs are not defending the way they used to? Yes, they are on fire right now (last night’s loss to the Knicks not withstanding). However, it seems their offensive surge has left a lot to be desire on the defensive end. Those championship Spurs teams from the earlier in the decade would have never given up 128 points. And I notice teams are breaking the century mark on the Spurs more than I have ever seen in recent memory. Plus, they have switched from an inside/out game to an outside/in game. That is not to say they are a fluke. They are playing excellent ball. But it is a very different kind of ball. My point is if the Lakers can get their defensive mojo back I like their chances against the Spurs. When they play right the Lakers are still a powerhouse in the paint. The Lakers are not as far off the mark as they seem. But they do have a lot of work ahead of them.

  37. Mimsy,
    Except that this has always been an issue with Kobe. When Pau was playing better, it was an issue. He wasn’t getting the ball as much as he should have then. They were able to win in spite of that, because of their talent relative to other teams. Now it’s catching up to them.

    The underlying issue is whether or not Kobe is really willing to fully commit to playing “a system.” So far, he never has – he has to a certain degree, but his fallback position is to do things on his own. Fully committing to the “system” wasn’t always necessary. Now I think it is.

    A week or so ago I saw a segment from a 2009 interview where Kobe was asked about the difference between him and LeBron. He said that the real difference is that underneath, LeBron was more of a Magic Johnson-type player, where he was a one-on-one player at heart.

  38. @exhelodrvr
    I think you meant to address that to my better half, Jim C :)

  39. T. Rogers

    Definitely observant of the middle of the pack uncharacteristic Spur defense through the first half of the season. If all that hot outside shooting every cools( as LA’s did) down I can see that team falling back down to earth. Did you also see Pop pull his starters down by 11 with 3 minutes and some change to go. He has never coached to have the best record, it has been to rest his players and not log too many minutes over the course of 82 games. His coaching style and age of Manu and Timmy will make for interesting decisions as the year progresses.

  40. People who say Kobe is, and always has been, too much of a gunner made up their minds years ago and are not about to be swayed by any detailed observations.

    So ends this latest Kobe-bashing thread. Wonder when the next one will surface?