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Phillip Barnett —  June 14, 2011

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Kobe Bryant can still make it happen, but not nearly with the same frequency as he once did. According to Hoopdata.com, Bryant’s shot attempts at the rim dropped by nearly 1.5 a game this season, while his attempts from 3-9 feet jumped from 2.3 in 2009-10 to 3.1. By way of comparison, in 2007-08, those ratios were very different: 5.1 attempts per game at the rack, 1.5 from 3-9. Night to night, his free throw attempts have declined over the years, as well. All of this confirms what we basically already know: Bryant is much more a post up/jump shooter, not the unstoppable penetrating force off the wing he once was, certainly not over the course of a long regular season. He’ll fire up the WABAC Machine from time to time, but picks his spots far more judiciously than the Kobe of yor

From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: In the circus known as the NBA, Bill Russell has long been considered the ring master for the unprecedented 11 bands of championship jewelry he won in his 13-year playing career. But when you think about it, Phil Jackson should be known as the league’s true lord of the rings. The 13 rings Jackson earned — two from his 13-year career as a player with New York and New Jersey, and 11 from his 20-year run as head coach in Chicago and Los Angeles — outshine the rings of Russell, who is widely acknowledged as the greatest winner in team sports. (Russell also won two championships in his eight seasons as a head coach, but they came in his final two seasons with the Celtics when he was player-coach, hence his ring collection wound up at 11 rather than tied with Jackson at 13.)

From Daniel Buerge, Lakers Nation: The NBA season came to an end last night in Miami when the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Heat to win their first championship in team history. They beat one of the most publicized and scrutinized team in history, and did it emphatically. After winning Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the series the Mavericks knew they had two chances to eliminate the Heat, but both games would be in Miami. That didn’t sway the confidence of the Mavs, as they rose to the occasion and beat Miami in Game 6 to win the crown.  ?As is the case with almost any NBA champion, the story for the Mavericks centered around their best player and Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki. After a solid series and an unbelievable playoffs, Dirk found himself struggling to find the range throughout the majority of Game 6. However, Dirk’s determination only grew stronger and he continued to fire up shots. At the end of the night he had a poor shooting percentage, but he also had an NBA championship.

From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: When the Los Angeles Lakers were swept out of the second round of this year’s playoffs, the major topic surrounded the possibility of acquiring Dwight Howard.  As some time has passed and the Laker community’s shock of an abrupt departure from the postseason has started to fade, the true needs and weaknesses are in full exposure, waiting to be addressed.  ?With the recent hiring of new head coach, Mike Brown, the first need can be checked off the list.  One of the Lakers’ needs is to become more youthful and athletic.  However, the issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible relates to the point guard position. Derek Fisher will without a doubt go down as one of the best point guards in the history of the Lakers.  Even though Fisher maintains the ability to make shots in the clutch, his level of performance for the entire 48 minutes of each game has been diminishing over the past two years.

From David Murphy, Searching for Slava: Our long national grind is over. It ended where in many ways, it began – Miami, FLA – home of the best that money could buy, the master-plan, the decision.  Superstars shelled into submission by a lanky bridesmaid who couldn’t spit in the ocean in the first half, supported by a gang of misfits who could.  It’s how it should be, the basketball gods must have been smiling. The knock on Nowitzki for years, has been that he’s soft, can’t or won’t play the interior, doesn’t come through when it really counts, in the playoffs, in the finals. This year was different – his Mavericks played like a recommitted team but the perception remained – they had failed too often and the public had turned away. Until they wound up in the finals, pitted against a team that had gone from media darling to pariah.  Suddenly, the game had new meaning.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: They don’t call him the “No Stats All-Star” for nothing. He consistently guards the opposing team’s best player and holds them under their season averages in points and shooting percentage. He provides a positive locker-room presence and thrives on mastering such intangibles as tipping loose balls to teammates, boxing out an opponent to free up a teammate to clean glass and showing remarkable efficiency in his shot selection. Battier has plenty of veteran experience and would earn immediate respect from many Lakers, including Kobe Bryant (who knows how suffocating Battier can be on defense), Ron Artest (who used to be his teammate at Houston) and Pau Gasol (who used to be his teammate in Memphis). There’s no need to wonder how Battier would fit in the pecking order because he’d be the guy making everyone else’s job easier. With Coach Mike Brown wanting to implement a defense-first mentality, Battier would be a perfect addition in fulfilling that philosophy.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: On paper, it appeared to Lakers forward Ron Artest that the team’s Western Conference semifinals matchup against the Dallas Mavericks would prove to be just another blip toward another championship run. It turns out he was wrong. “They blitzed us,” he said Sunday while appearing on ABC 7’s Sports Zone regarding the Mavericks’ four-game sweep against the Lakers. “We did not expect them to play like that honestly. I thought we were going to sweep them.” On paper, it appeared to Artest that the Miami Heat would win in the NBA Finals in either five or six games, believing the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and the team’s lockdown defense would prove too difficult in stopping. Instead, James disappeared most of the fourth quarters, Dirk Nowitzki continued to make difficult shots and the Mavericks displayed the type of depth Artest argued is needed to win a championship.


Phillip Barnett

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