Lakers/Hornets Game 4: It’s A Three Game Series Now

Darius Soriano —  April 24, 2011

If game 3 was a must win for the Lakers, game 4 was certainly a must win for the Hornets. Going down 3-1 with a game at Staples Center potentially deciding the series would essentially guarantee a series loss for New Orleans and tonight they came out and played like it, answering the call and besting the Lakers 93-88 to even up the series two games a piece.

The ultimate downfall of the Lakers was two fold. First was their utter inability to control their defensive glass. The Hornets may have only grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, but when you balance that against the fact that the Lakers only had 23 defensive rebounds as a team, the picture becomes clearer as to how bad the Lakers were at defensive rebounding. (EDIT: Commenter Glove did some math on the Hornets offensive rebounds: “Second chance points really hurt the Lakers tonight. I went through the play- by-play and if I did it correctly the Hornets had 20 second chance points and they scored on nine of the twelve offensive rebounds. The times the Hornets did not score after the offensive rebound, one was the end of quarter, one the Hornets got the rebound again which they than scored and the other time they missed and the Lakers got the rebound.” Yikes.) Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum tied for the team lead with 5 defensive rebounds and no other Laker had more than 3. Pau Gasol had 2 defensive rebounds which, for comparisons sake, was one more than Derek Fisher. Meanwhile, Trevor Ariza had 6 defensive rebounds and Chris Paul had 11 defensive rebounds for the Hornets. (As an aside, it’s not so much the individual totals of the Lakers that worry me, it’s that no one stepped up to really clean the glass. When you look at the Hornets big men, their rebounding numbers aren’t that great either but Paul dropped down and secured those boards. Someone has to step up and normally that’s the Lakers’ big men. Tonight they didn’t.)

Speaking of Paul, he was the 2nd major reason the Lakers lost this game. Much like his game 1 performance, Paul was brilliant in game 4. He tallied a triple double with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists. He controlled the game in every way imaginable, setting his teammates up for baskets all game and scoring at will in the 2nd half. On several second half possessions, he simply dictated the entire play by either running the P&R to set up a teammate or playing off the ball and getting the rock in rhythm where he could make a jumper of his own. On the play that essentially iced the game Paul ran a 1-3 pick and roll to force the switch, drove in isolation on Kobe, then hit a slashing Jarrett Jack who then hit a nice fade away 10 footer to put the Hornets up by 4 with only 9 seconds left. After that score, both teams would tack on 2 more points but Paul’s play was the one that needed to be stopped and the Lakers couldn’t do it.

And really, that was the story of the night. In crucial moments, the Hornets simply out executed the Lakers. One such stretch was at the beginning of the 4th quarter where the game was still very much up for grabs. As Zephid explains:

I don’t normally like to boil the game down to short time periods, but the game was lost when the bench allowed the Hornets to go on a 10-2 run at the beginning of the 4th where Bynum missed a number of gimmes and Brown made some really bad decisions. The game was tied 69-69 at 11:45; The Hornets led 79-71 at 7:00.

And while the Lakers battled back from that deficit to again make the game close, they could never get over the hump. Every time the Lakers looked poised to make a play to either tie the game or grab some momentum that could have put the Hornets on their heels, they couldn’t get it done. The Lakers trailed 83-80 for nearly a minute and a half and in that stretch they missed 3 three pointers (all of them relatively clean looks), grabbed an offensive rebound that ended up getting stripped away when trying to go back up, and then ended up fouling Chris Paul where he pushed the lead back to 5. With a little over a minute to go and the Lakers down by 4, Kobe drove to the basket, dropped off a wonderful shovel pass to a wide open Pau only to have it go right off his hands with him ultimately fouling Chris Paul again after he swopped in to pick up the loose ball.

On the heels of the loss however, there may be worse news yet. Down the stretch of the 4th quarter, Kobe sprained his already gimpy left ankle (this is the one that he sprained against Dallas earlier in the year) when his foot got caught in the middle of a defensive slide and his heel turned over his planted toe. The injury did force Kobe from the game only for him to return to mixed results (the aforementioned drive and dish to Gasol came after the sprain, but Kobe also missed a deep jumper that would have cut the Hornets’ lead to one in the final seconds). After the game, Kevin Ding tweeted that Kobe was on crutches while Mike Trudell quotes Kobe saying that this sprain wasn’t as bad as the one suffered against Dallas.

So while there were stories within in the game that led to this outcome, the story coming out of this game is Kobe’s ankle and the position the Lakers now find themselves in. Coming into this series I envisioned the Lakers winning in 5 or 6 games. Thursday’s game 6 is now the earliest this thing will be over and with Kobe gimpy and the Lakers front court decidedly up and down, the Lakers have put themselves in a tough situation. I do think they’ll still win the series, but with by the time game 6 rolls around the Lakers will have played 5 games in 9 days and put a bit extra wear on their tires for what they hope is another long playoff run. Closing this series down faster and without any additional nicks, bruises, or sprains would have been best. Obviously the Hornets have a lot to do with how this series has played out, but it’s also fair to say that the Lakers haven’t done themselves any favors. So now, we wait until Tuesday to see if the Lakers can respond. Hopefully Kobe is ready to go and the Lakers bigs can find their stride similar to what they showed in game 3.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Hornets Game 4: It’s A Three Game Series Now

  1. The loss is bad enough, but Kobe Bryant’s ankle did not need to get sprained again. That Dallas sprain was just awful, so of course this one is not as bad, I sure hope he will be fine. Those were some interesting stats on the rebounds.

    “We all have a few failures under our belt. It’s what makes us ready for the successes.” – Randy K. Milholland


  2. Reign on Parades April 25, 2011 at 12:29 am

    It’s a little distressing that the best player on the court for the Lakers has been Marco Bellinelli.


  3. Apparently, Monty Williams got the Hornets fired up before the game by showing them The Battle at Kruger. The Lakers never had a chance. 🙁

    Link to the article about the game:


  4. Darius, the NO bigs had the following defensive board totals: Okafor 1, Landry 3, Ariza 6. Was a day of the long rebound. Simply consider Paul’s 13, which were not a case of him having inside position. Next, of NO’s 12 offensive boards, 5 were off missed three pointers (they took 12 3s; Lakers took 18 3s and managed to snag 3 offensive boards off the same, 1 each for Gasol, Odom and Kobe). To round out NO’s offensive boards, in addition to the 5 off 3s, 2 were off their own blocked shots and 1 off a driving layup (wherein the fellow our big left to challenge the NO soul driving the lane scooped up the driving layup miss). Not much the bigs can do with the long rebound and with having to leave their own big to challenge the opposing guard who went through our guard like a hot knife goes through butter.

    You did, however, get the Paul part right. Had 5 more assists than both Kobe and Fish combined, his 13 boards were 1 shy of doubling up Kobe and Fish’s combined 7,, and his 27 points tied him with Kobe and Fish’s combined 27. Which brings me to the end, and so echoing the above soul’s remark re Belinelli, if he wasn’t so wretched NO would have blown the Lakers out.

    Lastly, did you check the minutes played? NO had three souls play more than any on the Lakers. Paul (44), Ariza (42), and Landry (39). The soul you quoted noted the first five minutes of the 4th. No surprise the result as Paul and Landry were on the floor for all that time and Ariza for about half. And ending with weakest link, Belinelli was subbed out for Jack at the 11:30 mark.


  5. Can it be possible that we inject Trey Johnson to the lineup instead of giving Shanon Brown playing time?


  6. I do agree. I think Shannon and Trey should split time. In those 1st games that Trey came and took some of Shannon’s minutes-Shannon played better all over (I think he is one of those players who plays better/smarter with competition) I also do not see why the bench was in for so long at the beginning of the 4th. Also, where was Lamar last night?? And Matt Barnes didn’t show up at all. If you look at the offensive rebounds by the Hornets, the Lakers should be embarrassed. Too many outside shots and not enough going inside. The Hornets are not that good…but you wouldn’t be able to tell by this series. The Lakers will win this series, but they are making it harder and unecessarily long for fans and themselves.


  7. @5. I think the potential marginal upside of that move wouldn’t be worth the likelier big downside. Shannon has been with the team for over two full seasons, while Trey hasn’t even been with them for two weeks since training camp.


  8. Execution down the stretch starts with “little” things. On three consecutive P&R with Kobe and Pau, Kobe’s defender doesn’t get hit. That’s another reason I would prefer Bynum down the stretch; he pops a wide base on ball screens. Pau sets twig screens with his feet inside his shoulders.

    I understand Kobe wanting to force CP3 left on that critical drive; however, I don’t like a defensive stance that is parallel to the sideline and so grossly exaggerates the intent that it gives the ball handler a direct path into the lane. I would prefer shoulders square and an offset with the right foot splitting Paul’s.


  9. @5.

    Good point on Shannon. If anything I say give Trey some of Shannon’s minutes, not all.As we have seen Brown is on of those players who to plays better with competition.

    However, there were much bigger issues last night-lack of rebounding, no Lamar, lack of Pau, the reason the bench was in so long at the beginning of the 4th and energy!

    Lakers will pull it out but they are making it a lot harder than it needs to be for themselves


  10. @7 The Dude Abides, couldnt agree more on that but what can we do to our bench when Phil Jackson stubbornly plays his bench in long stretches as if this was a regular season game. My brother and I were watching the game and we both said that Phil will bring back his starters at the 10 or 9 minute mark considering that it was a close game and this is the playoffs. But lo and behold he allowed the bench to stay longer that eventually cost us the game. I am no luminaire in coaching and have all the highest respect for Phil Jackson but losing this game and risking our players health just frustrates me. If he wants to rest his starters he should have played them long minutes so that they can finish this NOH team the soonest possible time and have plenty of days to rest and wait for their next round opponent.


  11. I usually don’t make this excuse but it has been a friggin HACKFEST out there. The Hornets are getting away with a lot of fouls. The were butchering Kobe & Gasol left and right and they got “no calls”. Come on if that had been the beloved Jordan half the Hornets would have fouled out. The two quick fouls on our bigs stopped our “Mo” and got them going. This team doesn’t belong on the court with us but the league is trying to prolong this one for the sake of saving the NOLA franchise.


  12. I’ve been saying this forever now but ever since Bynum went on that rebounding binge, Odom/Gasol don’t hit the glass anymore. I also thought Phil playing a completely worthless Odom over Bynum in the end was ridiculous. I also thought he should have gone for the jugular and ridden his starters harder in the 4th when the bench clearly couldn’t cut it. Kobe’s 1st half didn’t help either but he seemed like the only player that was interested in winning in the 2nd half. This series (unfortunately) reminds me of the Rockets series two years ago when we would just trade back and forth acting like we gave a damn when we could have just taken over and won at any point.

    Second big problem I have. We have the height advantage at SG/SF/PF/C and Odom yet we barely get the ball in the post. Kobe/Artest in the post needs to happen more and more. And I really don’t see why Shannon Brown should even be playing. The guy is channeling his inner Farmar/Sasha. He takes those terrible jump shots that just reek of, “You finally put me in and I’m getting a few shots off just for the sake of getting some off.” And the dribbling is just maddening. Throw in his “defense” and he’s about as worthless as Odom was tonight.

    Lastly, I know we don’t play much zone but there is no reason we shouldn’t play it non stop against them. They just flat out don’t have the personnel to handle. In the end, it’s just like it’s been for years. You have to have confidence in them since they’ve done this over and over and still come out on top but they sure do make being a Laker fan way more difficult than it should be. Oh, and does anyone have any clue wtf Bynum was doing in the 4th? He had easy dunks at least 2 or 3 times and he went with some ridiculous up and under english layups or just totally missed the rim….spooky.


  13. Game 5 will be much more interesting w/ Kobe.


  14. We have to start attacking Chris Paul on defense. In the 4th, he was exhausted from just keeping the Hornets afloat that he just didn’t make shots from the field down the stretch. The one time that we ran the 1-2 PNR with Kobe and Fish, Fish completely blew by Paul and beat the Hornets defense for an easy lay-up.

    This is where Steve Blake’s inaggression, could be hurting us. As we saw against Sacramento, Trey Johnson was willing and able to attack the middle of the paint coming off screens. By my eyes, Steve Blake has never attacked the paint coming off a screen.

    It was clear by the end of the game that Paul was going to have to live at the free throw line, and one of the other Hornets was going to have to make a crucial basket. In this case, Paul got to the line and Jarrett Jack made the one jumper that mattered most.

    If we can run Paul ragged on defense, he won’t have the energy to execute his hesitation, pull-up mid-range jumper to the level of effectiveness so far in this series. And it doesn’t even mean Fisher or Blake has to be dribbling the ball a lot. Just run Paul off screens in the regular triangle actions and force him to recover.


  15. @ Zephid you are right on that bro, if Monty will play Chris Paul for most part of the game then we should let them pay for it on the defensive end by making CP3 chase who ever he is guarding. Let him run and fight through screens and exhaust him on defense. During the 4th quarter you can see that cp3 was already breathing heavily on his mouth as a sign of exhaustion we should take advantage of this in game 5 and let him play on both ends of the court.


  16. Chris Paul is NO’s best defender, as he averages over 3 steals a game and butters up the refs so much that he doesn’t get called for the touch fouls other small players might.

    Its not the Lakers defense that was concerning in this game. Outside of the four gimme free throws the Lakers gave in the last minute, NO barely scored 90 tonight.

    Its out offense that concerns me. NO’s defense may be good, but its not Celtics of 2008 good, nor even as good as Miami’s, Chicago’s, Boston’s, or OKC’s. NO was instantly doubling Kobe the second he put it on the floor, and the Lakers did not take advantage of it in the 2nd half through movement (of the BIGS), or through cutters. I also think that there is some trepidation from our jump shooters out there, as they are often left wide open with about 10 seconds left on the clock and generally make that next pass which NO is able to defend. Sometimes to prevent turnovers and over-forcing things, you just have to shoot the dang ball. To many times last night I was going – instead of dribble drive there (into a zone defense), take the WIDE OPEN jumper they are giving you. This especially applies to Shannon and Blake, as they always make the offense more difficult than it needs to be.

    Pau has got to lower that shoulder sometimes and just go as well, the pump fake just takes him out of rythym.

    And Lamar Odom needs to wake up from his reality show slumber, as he was out and out terrible last night – on both defense (help and individual) and offense (jacking up runners early in the shot clock with four NO defenders around him so there was no chance of a rebound.)


  17. Take heed and take heart. The playoffs are about series, not individual games.

    This version of the Lakers, with Jackson coaching, and Bryant, Fisher, Gasol, Odom, and Bynum on the roster, has an interesting history in the last three playoff runs.

    First Round – 4 and 0.
    Second Round – 4 and 2.
    Conference Finals – 4 and 1.
    NBA Finals – 2 and 4.
    A great run leading to a painful thud against Boston.

    First Round – 4 and 1.
    Second Round – 4 and 3.
    Conference Finals – 4 and 2.
    NBA Finals – 4 and 1.
    A herky-jerky ride through the early rounds, followed by a solid finish over Orlando.

    First Round – 4 and 2.
    Second Round – 4 and 0.
    Conference Finals – 4 and 2.
    NBA Finals – 4 and 3.
    Smooth sailing through the early rounds, followed by a nasty, and ultimately awesome, series against Boston.

    I would not be at all surprised to see the Lakers dominate the game tomorrow night, and then go into New Orleans and finish the series out.

    As far as last night’s contest, I thought that the Lakers got a bit out of synch late in the 3rd and early in the 4th, and settled for some long and early jumpers.

    This loss of focus, in my opinion, was caused by the officiating. The Lakers, for whatever reason, tend to let the lack of calls dictate their play from time to time. When they are playing in the paint, and not getting calls when they are being bumped and hacked, they start firing away from distance.

    Of course, that almost never works.

    What works is simple, direct, and refreshingly dirty: Foul an opponent hard. Loosen up the whistles. Encourage the referees to “take control of a game” and “keep things from getting too emotional.”

    Kobe and Gasol need an enforcer. It is no surprise that when Bynum or Fisher hammer some poor fool on the other team things suddenly tighten up and get back on track for the Lakers.

    Michael Beasley and Luis Scola spring to mind.

    I am really hopeful that Fish, Bynum, or Barnes, put a hard foul on Paul, Landry, or Jacks and watch them slide away on the hardwood and get up slowly.

    Again, not too dirty, not dangerous and reckless, not to injure. Just to leave them a bruise or three, and a small sense of “Oh. Ow.”

    (By the by… Chris Paul is one of the dirtiest players I have seen in a while. His leg whip on Gasol actually had me standing up looking for a Hornets player to foul…)


  18. #4. Good point on the long rebounds. That said, *someone* needs to grab them and in the case of the Lakers no one did. That’s why I mentioned that it’s not so much the low totals for the bigs, but that no one went and cleaned the glass for the Lakers like Paul did for the Hornets.

    And yeah, I saw the minutes played. To me, that speaks to the “must win” nature of the game for the Hornets. When Phil really thinks he needs to push his starters for a win, he’ll ride them longer just as Monty did last night. But, as much as that stretch hurt the Lakers, I thought what was even bigger was the fact that the Lakers couldn’t get over the hump in those final 6 minutes even though there were ample chances. From the 6 minute until the end of the game the Hornets scored 12 points but 10 of them came on FT’s. Meanwhile, the Lakers scored 16 points but only 5 came on FT’s. If the Lakers could have kept the Hornets off the line while hitting a couple of the open looks that were available, this game could have turned. Instead, the Lakers failed to get over the hump. I thought this was just as important as Zephid’s note about the bad run the bench allowed at the top of the 4th.


  19. Forget that the only player the Hornets bother double teaming is Bynum who never sees the ball. Forget that the Lakers best offensive player this series is Artest who never sees the ball. What I can’t understand is how Bynum is left off the floor down the stretch even though he has been our second best player since the All Star break. Last night we left our two best defensive player in Bynum and Artest off the floor in crunch time and we lost again. And I still haven’t read a post from Darius on this. The only writer to comment in the Lakers failures down the stretch without Andrew Bynum has been Kevin Ding.


  20. Chris Paul getting that many rebounds is as much the fault of the Laker guards as the fault of the Laker “bigs”, perhaps more so.


  21. #19. It’s a bit more complex than the simple formula you laid out. As you’ll see this afternoon. (Now THAT is a teaser.)


  22. As a Hornets fan, when I saw Bynum sitting down the stretch I was overjoyed. Love watching all you Lakers fans crying about foul calls though, especially considering they hit the penalty before the 8 minute mark in the 3rd quarter, completely stalling NO’s momentum and taking the crowd out of the game, and got virtually every call down the stretch in the last 2 minutes. Face it, the refs have been fair this series and you guys are just used to shooting 20+ more free throws than the other team. Also considering the fact that the Hornets have been attacking the basket more than the Lakers all series long, you should expect it. Can’t get calls chucking up 18-20 3’s a game and tons of other 16-22 footers.


  23. #20. I’d actually argue that Paul getting that many defensive rebounds in no ones “fault”. He dug down to grab some boards and also closed down the FT line to grab others. The flip side is that no one did the same for the Lakers. Earlier it was pointed out that the Lakers gave up a lot of long offensive rebounds, well that means that the Lakers guards (or whoever is playing high on D) needs to close down the FT line and then chase balls that bounce out the three point line in any direction. It was NO’s bigs that chased those balls down rather than the Laker wings.


  24. #22. While we welcome insight from Hornets fans here, please try to avoid baiting statements like “crying” or that fans are “used to shooting 20 more FT’s”. Here at FB&G, I try to discourage any talk about the refs b/c I always feel that both teams need to adjust to the way the game is being called an go from there. It’s why I rarely discuss them in recaps or even in the comments except to say that the Lakers need to adjust and play through it.

    The Lakers need to play through contact when in the post and better defend w/o fouling. In the end, I agree that the refs didn’t decide this game. I’m pretty sure the refs had little to do with the defficient rebounding or the lack of shot making from beyond the three point line.


  25. 23) Darius,
    “When you look at the Hornets big men, their rebounding numbers aren’t that great either but Paul dropped down and secured those boards. Someone has to step up and normally that’s the Lakers’ big men. ”

    The guards bear the primary responsibility for keeping the opponent’s guards from getting rebounds.


  26. Normally I would look at the box score and see 4 rebounds for Pau and say he didn’t do his job. Although he as well as lamar could’ve done much better boxing out and being a quicker to the ball, but it’s not just on them. I believe the hornets planned for their bigs to just knock the ball out. I rarely saw their bigs just go up and try to secure a rebound. They know that they are undersized and they were just jumping up and swatting the ball out and it worked. Now the onus is on the bigs to get better positioning and force the Hornets bigs to go over their backs. When the hornets bigs do get their hands on the ball, the guards have to get to the balls that are swatted out backwards.


  27. #25. Are you suggesting that the Laker guards attack the offensive boards so that Chris Paul can’t be an effective defensive rebounder? If so, I couldn’t agree less. The Lakers need to ensure they have floor balance when transitioning back on defense. The man that Paul is guarding (normally Fisher or Blake) are nearly always responsible for rotating back on D to be the first man back. The Lakers offensive rebounding philosphy is that both bigs attack the offensive glass and the SF or SG has the option of going after the offensive board should they be in position to do so. I don’t see how it’s on the Laker PG to try and disrupt Paul when he’s digging into the paint or closing the FT line to rebound.


  28. 27,
    The Lakers guards need to be aware of where their “man” is. And if he is consistently getting rebounds, then yes, they should be adjusting to that.


  29. Darius, I think you are referring to me as comment 23. If so, I’m talking about on the defensive end. Offensive rebounds are a plus, but defensive rebounds are a must. The lakers were hurt by allowing so many offensive rebounds and second chance points. I should’ve specified. But when the Hornets were on the offensive side of the ball, their bigs were just batting the ball backwards. So what I meant was the guards have to do a better job of rebounding the ball on the defensive end and the bigs have to do a better job of boxing out and not allowing the Hornets bigs hands on the ball after a hornets missed shot.


  30. #29. Joel, nah I was referencing exhelodrvr’s comments about Chris Paul’s rebounding numbers and how to counter it. I agree with your point 100%. All season long the Lakers have had trouble closing down the FT line to grab long misses on the defensive end. Yesterday, it did hurt them.

    #28. I don’t understand how that translates to what we’re discussing, to be honest. If Paul was sneaking in for offensive rebounds (like Rondo and Russell Westbrook are prone to do), I’d understand your point much better. But it’s not in the Lakers’ interest to have Fisher or Blake challenge Paul on rebounding NOH’s defensive glass and disrupt their floor balance/transition defense in the process.


  31. Artest is the guy we need going for offensive rebounds. He’s so strong that he can get amazing position for offensive rebounds (because God knows he’s not going to out jump anyone for a rebound).

    On defense, the reason the Hornets go so many O boards is because the Laker big men had to hedge out on Chris Paul to contest his deadly mid-range jumper. Pulling one big away from the rim really helped Okafor and Landry gang rebound. This means that the wings and guards need to help the bigs by boxing out. Even if they don’t get close to the rebound, keeping the Hornets bigs out of position will enable our other guys to secure defensive rebounds.


  32. Finally, someone (#31 Zephid) identified the issue. Chris Paul was able to secure rebounds because Laker bigs are routinely out of position after rotating over to provide help defense as one Laker perimeter after another fails to kepe their man in front of them.

    The way to fix this problem is to change the defense and go to a zone. Sticking with a defensive philosophy that hasn’t worked for 4 games is just stubborn. Laker bigs are terrible defenders on the perimeter, which isn’t particularly surprising. You don’t leave your bigs out there to defend guards. They give up shots, fouls, and rebounds that way….


  33. Where as I respect your thoughts that Gasol was the 2nd reason the Lakers lost, I feel you missed the first. Kobe’s defense was startling bad on Ariza. In the first half Ariza, who always goes right to the bucket, went around Kone 5 times for layups. Mean while Kobe was 0 for 7 with 0 points. I though I was watching the Sacremento game of 6 Years ago when Kobe tried to prove a point by tanking a game. On offense Kobe had major problems shooting over Ariza. Ariza has out played alone in this series as has Landry out played Gasol. When your 2 best players get out played and your coach lkeeps your best defensive player Andrew on the bench the last 5 minutes, you can’t compete.

    I see little chance of the Lakers beating OKC and I wonder if we would be better served to rest Kobe’s ankle as this team will do better without Kobe’s bad defense and 30% shooting.


  34. 32, um, it’s actually impossible to keep your man in front of you when there is a well-set pick, so your point about guarding failing in their initial job is incorrect. The solution is not to go zone, it is just for the guards to recover more quickly to Paul so that the big man can ease his way back into the paint. Kobe has been extremely lackluster in this department, and most of the possessions that I remember when Paul isolated a big was when his primary defender was Kobe.