Around the World (Wide Web)

Phillip Barnett —  January 5, 2011

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Kobe Bryant sat on one table, Pau Gasol on the next. Both had stopped in the middle of getting dressed in the Lakers trainers’ room after postgame showers and were looking up at the TV. Gasol was just to Bryant’s left, and they were watching highlights of the Lakers’ just-completed victory Wednesday night over Detroit, perhaps making doubly sure something good had indeed happened for their stressed squad. Someone really should verify the result with Ron Artest, because he lost track of what the team was supposed to be stressed anyway. When told the Lakers had lost four of their previous six games, Artest repeated it, incredulous: “Wow, that’s amazing,” he said.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: Standing by his locker, Kobe Bryant engaged in something he rarely does. He had fun with the media. A devastating loss to Memphis carried all the same problematic characteristics in poor offensive execution, defensive lapses and shoddy effort. It was followed by the same endless questions about the Lakers’ current state of being. But instead of sticking to the script, Bryant made an in-game adjustment. He had spent the previous week finding endless ways to challenge the team, ranging from publicly criticizing them after a Miami loss, carrying the team albeit with negative results against San Antonio and then just having fun against New Orleans. The latter approach worked, except the effort proved unsustaining as he carried the team to victory against Philadelphia but then couldn’t jolt them enough against Memphis. So Bryant asked for help.

From DexterFishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: I don’t watch that many Pistons games. In part this is because I’m a busy and important captain of industry. It’s also because I’m not a masochistic person riven through with self-hatred. So given my limited exposure to this team, I’ll just go ahead and assume they’re not as awful every night out as they were this evening at Staples Center, where the Lakers slapped them silly, 108 to 83. At this point we’re all conscious not to read overmuch into one night’s good work, but there’s no denying that the Pistons’ lie-down-and-play-dead approach to the game is just what the Lakers needed to begin recovering from the past few weeks.

From Andrew Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: A night where Kobe passed Dominique Wilkins for 10th place on the all-time scoring list ironically began with the superstar unable to drop a pea in the ocean while unguarded. Eight misses in as many tries, with plenty of misses from point-blank range. Whether a matter of hurt fingers (are any healthy?) or faulty timing, dude just wasn’t on point. What I like, however, was the way Bryant handled his 0-fer conundrum.  Instead of forcing the issue with long, contested jumpers, Bryant recognized the inability of any Piston to contain him in single coverage and continued driving to the cup. It took a while, but the ball eventually dropped. The next two quarters were wrapped up at a plenty solid six-for-12 clip, and six free throws were earned during those two frames.

From David Berri, Wages of Wins Journal: On Sunday the LA Lakers lost at home to the Memphis Grizzlies.  Actually the defending champions didn’t just lose.  The Grizzlies – a below 0.500 team that has never won a playoff game – beat the Lakers by 19 points.  And that clearly indicates that the defending champs have taken a step back.  Maybe several steps back. On the other hand (a phrase economists love)… Well, one game does not a season make.  And when we look at the entire 2010-11 season — and also look back at what we saw in 2009-10 — we see a somewhat different story.

From Jeff Fogle, HoopData: Did Kobe lose his legs? Is the team just sandbagging during a dead spot in the schedule knowing that you don’t win championships in December and January? What the heck is going on with the suddenly slumping Showtime set? ??The first step in finding answers is to get a sense of the scope. Everyone’s basically gnashing their teeth (via newspaper columns, radio shows, or podcasts) over a 2-4 record during this six game stretch:??Milwaukee 98, Lakers 79?Miami 96, Lakers 80?San Antonio 97, Lakers 82?Lakers 103, New Orleans 88?Lakers 102, Philadelphia 98?Memphis 104, Lakers 85??A few things jump off the page immediately. The Lakers aren’t scoring much in their losses! That’s 79, 80, 82, and 85 in poor performances, but over 100 in the wins. Is the team slowing down too much, and that’s hurting their form? Or, is the slump not pace-related at all?

Phillip Barnett