Lakers/76ers: A Milestone for the Mamba, but Another Flailing Finish

Emile Avanessian —  February 7, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 90, 76ers 95
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 106.1, 76ers 112.5
True Shooting %: Lakers 50.1%, 76ers 53.7%

The Good:
It’d be criminal to simply gloss over Andrew Bynum’s performance. ‘Drew was, for the most part (the five turnovers are a bit ugly), sensational on Monday night, posting the second 20-20 game of his NBA career, and generally dominating the paint at both ends of the floor. ‘Drew poured in an efficient 20 points (8-of-13 FG, 4-of-6 FT) and absolutely owned the offensive glass, tallying as many offensive rebounds (8) as the entire Sixers team. He added three assists – including a beauty to Pau Gasol (who had an impressive 16 and 11, with 6 offensive boards of his own) early in the third quarter for a dunk – and swatted three shots at the defensive end. Like I said, criminal.

Well, here’s hoping it’s a misdemeanor, because as they tend to, this evening belonged to Kobe Bryant.

Needing just 23 points to surpass former running mate Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, it stood to reason that Monday would mark the last time (for several years, at least) that Kobe would rank outside the top-five in career scoring. That he quickly and aggressively set about amassing those 24 points should also come as no surprise. The manner in which he did it however, while hardly foreign, never ceases to be the rarest of treats for Laker basketball fans the world over.

The numbers (24 points on 8-of-14 FG and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc), while impressive, simply do not do justice to the deadly precision with which Kobe Bryant struck in the opening half of Monday night’s contest. With arguably the world’s best perimeter defender draped all over him, Kobe was, as he always is, undeterred. This was his night, in his hometown, with his continuing march toward immortality front and center, and Kobe came out throwing haymakers.

Call it what you will – Kobe doin’ work, going Mamba, going nova, one of those Kobe games – Kobe Bryant’s first half in Philly on Monday night perfectly encapsulated everything we’ve come to expect from the Lakers’ superstar – an unabashed, almost delusional sense of self-confidence made to appear sane by the brilliance of one Kobe Bean Bryant. No matter how many such performances we see – and we have been privy to a great many – it’s debatable whether we will ever truly understand the heights to which we have consistently seen the game elevated.

Congratulations, Kobe. And thanks.

The Bad:
Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before: the Lakers turned the ball over too frequently, failed to force turnovers and did not receive nearly enough help from the second unit.

Despite boasting the league’s top mark for defensive efficiency (by a considerable margin), when it comes to forcing turnovers, the Sixers are completely average, equaling the league average by forcing 14.3 turnovers every 100 possessions. Not to worry. Regardless of opposition, there is not a team that these Lakers, in a careless and lackadaisical manner that is all their own, cannot elevate to upper reaches of ball-hawkery on any given night. In this case, the Lakers turned the ball over 16 times, a majority coming in the second half, while managing a pathetic four takeaways at the defensive end, and losing the “points off of turnovers” battle by a 20-6 count.

A bad pass by Troy Murphy. An ill-advised jump pass from Kobe. Andrew Bynum’s third quarter entry into the “laziest post-up ever” sweepstakes. Each of these, along with any of 13 other giveaways, represents an opportunity missed. This is a team that has neither the depth nor the firepower to justify cavalierly frittering away a half-dozen or more possessions, game in, game out. The margin of error is simply not there.

Speaking of which, Monday night is yet another in a long line of subpar performances by the second unit. On a relative basis, Monday’s performance by the four Laker reserves that took the floor (Troy Murphy, Andrew Goudelock, Matt Barnes and Jason Kapono) was actually not that bad. What’s sad, however, is that what constitutes “not that bad” ‘round these parts lately is a 71-minute, 7-of-15, 16-point, 11-rebound, 6-assists outing. Throw in sadly characteristic 1-of-6 for four points from Metta Wrold Peace and a six-point, six-rebound outburst from Derek Fisher, and… sigh.

The Ugly:
After playing an excellent first 43:30, for the second time in three nights, the Lakers were done in by lackluster late-game execution. On the heels of his sublime first half performance, Kobe Bryant took the floor in the second half in “facilitator” mode – running the pick and roll beautifully, looking not for his own shot, but for the proper pass. This was vital in helping the team find a rhythm on the offensive end and seemingly take control of the game with 4:37 left, when Kobe found Bynum with a beautiful lob pass that the All-Star big man hammered down to stretch the advantage to seven points.

At this point, although turnover differential and hot 3-point shooting by the Sixers had prevented the Lakers from capitalizing on their best stretches of play and opening up a sizeable gap, the Lakers still appeared to be the superior team. From that point forward, however, all semblance of rhythm was taken out of the Lakers’ offense, as Kobe Bryant grew weary of his facilitator role and opted to attempt to recapture the magic of the first half – without success – slamming the brakes on the team-oriented ball with which they’d built the lead in favor of attempting seven shots in the final 4:37, of which he made just one, and putting the finishing touches on a 2-of-12 second half shooting display that undermined the near-perfect game he’d played until that point, and will be remembered for being as fruitless as his first half was brilliant.

Play(s) of the Game:
I’m guessing you don’t need to ask.

Kobe Bryant now has more regular season points than Shaquille O’Neal. This is how it came to be.

Emile Avanessian

Posts

31 responses to Lakers/76ers: A Milestone for the Mamba, but Another Flailing Finish

  1. anti Dwyer Abbott February 7, 2012 at 5:49 am

    Nice recap,thanks!

  2. 32 years as a lakers fanatic….this is the first team I hate watching. Just to many bad players…players nobody else wants. Grrrr…

  3. World Peace not Wrold Peace. It was one of the first times I actually heard James Worthy say “Kobe shot too much in the second half”. Yes but again only Bynum seemed to get it, SLAM THE DAMN BALL!!! Pau kept with his taps at the rim instead of just bashing it home. Kobe told him as much twice while leaving the court.

    Lou Williams’ performance was more evidence that we HAVE TO HAVE JR Smith. We need someone besides Kobe to get hot when teams start doubling and tripling Drew and Kobe and everyone else settles in at the three point line.

    Last night, a very thin team was exposed and out coached. The effort was there but not the mindset.

  4. I’m really amazed at how people on this blog never will admit when Kobe is to blame for a loss. 1-10 in the fourth quarter and it wasn’t like they were good shots either. Yes he started the game off 9-15, but that doesn’t give him a pass for shooting us out of the game.

    Philadelphia proved that they could not guard Andrew Bynum. There was no reason not to keep going to him. I have to put this loss on Kobe and the coaching staff for not pounding the ball to Bynum down the stretch. It made no sense not to.

  5. Interesting stat I came up with off the top of my head.

    -Kobe has never won a playoff series without Fisher.
    -Fisher has won multiple playoff series without Kobe.

    Somewhere, Henry Abbott just dove for a notepad and began scribbling his next TrueHoop article.

  6. I find it sad that no one on this weak coaching staff has the guts to call a time out and demand to Kobe to control his self. They had this game won before he went on his 1 for 10 barrage. I understand not throwing the ball to scrubs like Metta, Barnes or Murphy buy Andrew was shooting 65% not 10%.

    Yes he is the best in the world but too often his ego controls his basketball sense and having weak, not in control, scared of the star(see L.James and Cleveland) over their head coaches has made this a Kobe-owned team that will remained buried at the bottom of the West.

    This is what happens Jimmy when you try to save money on a coach and a bench, you get a puppet and disgrace of a bench.

    New cars have a warranty, old beat up cars with borrowed used parts will leave you stranded in the desert sleeping in your junk!

    I expect the Lakers to lose at this point in Boston with another show off performance from Kobe, wide open 3-pointers from Boston, Rondo running around unguarded, Metta bricking shots and looking like a fool and our bargain basement bench getting outscored by 30 again.

    This is life as a Laker fan in 2012 under the direction of our horse trainer owner. To quote from a title if an old movie “They shoot Horses Don’t They” it’s time to shoot this horse and blow up this team and put us fans out of our misery.

  7. On a serious note, I really liked this line:

    “No matter how many such performances we see – and we have been privy to a great many – it’s debatable whether we will ever truly understand the heights to which we have consistently seen the game elevated.”

    I agree. I think I personally will really appreciate it more once Kobe’s gone. Although I have a few pre-Kobe memories, Kobe was in the league by the time I was old enough to really appreciate the nuances of the game. Right now, it’s hard for me to think of an NBA without him. For people who were born in the mid 70s, they likely experienced the same thing when Magic retired. I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to Mr. Bryant. When he retires, a significant portion of the basketball history that I’ve lived through will go with him.

  8. Lmao at ESPN “first take”. So much bias in so little area…

  9. Lakers lost an opportunity. They are now 1-2 on this six game road trip heading into Boston. Before the trip started, my position was it would be a successful trip if they go 3-3. Now they have to go 2-1 to reach that “lofty” goal. Lakers are 3-9 on the road. With only 21 road games to go, the chances of them reaching .500 on the road are quickly becoming a joke. They would need to go 13-8 to finish 16-17. So basically forget about the Lakers having home court advantage in ANY series.

    P.S: Kobe needed 23 points to pass Shaq on the NBA all-time list last night, and he made it THE priority, going for it right away. Interestingly, tonight Paul Pierce only needs to score 9 points to pass Larry Bird on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. I wonder if he’ll look to score 5 baskets right off the back.

  10. I love Kevin Ding too…he doesn’t exaggerate Bynum’s brilliance. He said Bynum is *growing stronger. He wrote that Bynum is *getting better at recognizing and handling the double teams.

    I agree with those statements wholeheartedly! You don’t have to go so over-the-top with praise for the guy that your message is lost. I think Bynum should get at least 15 shots a game. At the very least! However, if teams are swarming him then that number will be reduced and he has to be able to to make the right decision as far as kick outs. Bynum should be #2 right now. Pau should be #3.

    Watching Pau and Bynum pass to each other is a thing of beauty sometimes! We truly are (To borrow Aaron/Ken’s meme.) an NBA point guard away from being a legitimate contender. If we could get any production from our 3’s it would be amazing, as well.

  11. The trade deadline couldn’t came any quicker. There is a giant sword of Damocles hanging over this team. Who’s going to stay? Who’s leaving? Bynum seems to be the best at accepting the possibility of being traded.

    At this point, it’s a simple +/- game. It’s almost impossible to stop a good NBA point guard. So the thinking is, you can’t stop anyone, but no one can stop you. Unless you are the Lakers. I don’t know the +/- of our point guards, but we don’t make the opposing point guards pay on defense. Same with the small forward position. Therefore, 2/5 of our positions are a gaping hole.

    I don’t see Dwight coming. I don’t see Dwill coming. The team can find ways to plug the aforementioned holes. But there needs to be some resolution re: trades or this team may be a 10th seed come the trade deadline.

  12. Kobe gets tunnel vision late. It’s just a bad habit in late games he so used to taking over since 2000 it just seems like the right thing to do which in reality it’s not all the time.

    Instead of clearing out Drew or Pau should post up and call for the ball. Kobe was great dissecting Philly defense til about the 4 minute mark.

  13. Kevin,
    What happened in larg part is not Kobe being selfish but the coach calling different offensive sets. With about 4 minutes left we stopped running pick and rolls which the Sixers were trapping on in the second half so Kobe was passing. Down the stretch we mostly instead ran isos for Kobe against Andre. The Sixers correctly felt Andre could guard Kobe one on one in the fourth quarter and didn’t send apdouble teams. Kobe did the right thing. He attacked one on one coverage. That’s his job. Unfortunately he couldn’t get off good shots. But that’s his job. He needs to be able to beat one on one coverage down the stretch of games. If he was doubled he would have passed. He has done that his entire career. Kobe doesn’t call the plays. The coach called a lot of ISOS for Kobe. That’s not Kobe’s fault. I do think coaches should mix up offensive play calls of course down the stretch of games. That’s a no brainer.

  14. “Kobe Bryant’s first half in Philly on Monday night perfectly encapsulated everything we’ve come to expect from the Lakers’ superstar…”

    Yes, and so, too, was his second half.

    On night that he was totally dominant, Andrew Bynum got 12 shots (if you discount the desperation three pointer at the end of regulation). That’s one less than MWP and Fish. MWP and Fish should NEVER get more shots than Bynum on a night like last night….

  15. Funky Chicken,
    Shot totals are not important. It’s scoring touches that are important. How is Bynum going to get shots when teams like the Sixers are double and triple teaming him every time he catches the ball in the post. Most of his shots came off of offensive rebounds and lobs. I think he was getting the ball enough up until of course the last five minutes where he didn’t get another scoring touch THE REST OF THE GAME!!!! Very sad indeed. But how about his athletisim. With his offseason work and his recent game shape conditioning… Andrew Bynum is running and jumping again almost like he did at 21 years old. That’s pretty good considering he will never be 21 again and has had a couple knee injuries. Of course he has never been this effective as an overall basketball player before in his career.

  16. TOP 25 UNDER 25 According to ESPNs “Scouts”

    1: Kevin Durant
    2: Derek Rose
    3: Kevin Love
    4: Andrew Bynum
    5: Blake Griffen
    6: Russell Westbrook

    I would have switched Bynum and Love but pretty spot on.

  17. Philly guarded Kobe with single coverage for most of the first half and Kobe took advantage.

    When the second half started, Doug Collins decided to double team Kobe, even beyond the three point line, and as a result, Kobe went into facilitator mode.

    In the fourth quarter, Collins went back to single coverage against Kobe, and predictably, Kobe went back to gunner mode. He simply didnt make the shots he was making in the first half.

  18. Aaron, I agree that the last 4:30 of the game was the most egregious example, but Bynum is the team’s most efficient scorer, and when Kobe gets double Bynum’s attempts on a nightly basis, that’s not a good thing.

    No doubt that the young center is rounding himself into shape. I was a little discouraged in the first month of the season when it appeared that he’d lost his ability to elevate for lobs, but it looks like that skill has not been lost. If only the Nets would part with D.Will for Pau….

  19. I read this blog religiously and I am proud to be part of a Laker nation that at its core wants the Lakers to excel.

    I don’t want to rehash the obvious. My gut says that DH and DWill are not options. If the FO has inside information to the contrary then I support their inactivity.

    However, if those deals are pie in the sky then we need to look elsewhere for improvement. While it is clear that the Lakers need a PG and a SF, I would upgrade at a position of strength if it would make us younger and more athletic.

    I recently watched a Raptor game at a friend’s home that had the NBA channel. I really think that Bargnani would be a great fit on our team. I also like their PG, Calderon. If we acquired them we’d have a hybrid young Pau/Dirk at the 4 along with a competent 1.

    Bargnani is unfairly criticized because the Raptors play him at the 5. He’s a perfect 4 for us because he has an outside game that is the envy of most 3’s.

    Because of his offense you could possible play McRoberts (no perimeter offense) at the 3 and simply ask him to hit the boards with AB. It creates a really long, young and athletic front line.

    I like it a lot!

    I’m OK with getting shot down so I welcome your feedback.

  20. Why don’t you look at the tape in 4th Q., how many times did the teammates of Kobe deferred holding the ball but gave it to Kobe? Bynum was not open when Kobe was orchestrating the 4th, if he was he could lob-pass it just like what happened in the 3rd Q. If Kobe made those shots in 4th, he’s a hero, a super hero on a memorable night and because he missed them, he’s the super goat.
    I do agree with Snoopy 2006, if Kobe is gone, that will be the time we will missed this treasured time. I remembered the void created when Elgin Baylor retired, then followed by Jerry West, Magic Johnson even with Kareem departure, Lakers lost to the Pistons and Bulls, so with Shaq in 2004 now if Kobe gets out of this team, where will the Lakers be? We all agree that if Kobe was not in the game last night, there is absolutely no chance for the Lakers to win that game or any games in this road trip.

    Lastly, always blame it on Kobe, the ball hog and yet the Coaching last quarter instructions were not considered, always given a free pass who usually decide how the ball would be distributed in the last quarter. That is an NBA mojo, the Superstar will be the focal point of offense at the last quarter especially in a close contest. Even the great facilitator Magic J said that, in one of the telecast on his comment on LBJ, it has to be in the hands of the Superstar the fate of the game either make it or break it.

    I also blame Kobe when there is a need to it, but if he missed some important shots and his two 7 footer teammates were not helping in follow-ups while 1 & 3 were sleeping on defense that is also a total team failure. please look at the overall picture not just the last segment of the game.

  21. Zeke

    I really like your idea. If DWill and DH are not going to happen I’d deal for Bargnani and Calderon.

    I just checked his 3 pt shooting and he actually plays like a SF. By putting McRoberts on the same front line you help with the boards we would miss without Pau (I assume he would go in the trade).

    Based on how the team looks now a starting 5 of Bryant/Calderon/Bynum/McRoberts/Bargnani would rock. Our bench would still be awful, however.

  22. 18)
    Almost correct. They never sent a double team at Kobe the entire night when he was in one on one situations as I’ve already stated. Collins started trapping Kobe when we ran the pick and roll. In the fourth quarter we stopped running the pick and roll and Collins stayed with the normal single coverage on Kobe and Bryant couldn’t get off a good shot. So I blame the offensive play calling.

  23. Damn… People are catching on… Will Kobe?

    Kazem (montreal)

    I keep watching Kobe in crunch time for the last 2 years( including playoffs) and he keeps failing, yet he get no criticizm at all for it; Whereas lebron gets destroyed if he misses a ft. Can we get a stat going for last 2 years counting last 3 minutes of regulations (including playoffs games)?

    John Hollinger  (2:04 PM)

    Clearly you haven’t been following our Henry Abbott on this, because he’s been on this story like smug is on David Stern’s face. Kobe’s clutch numbers are awful, mostly because he keeps trying near-impossible shots in those situations.

  24. If it’s a one possession game in the last 30 seconds where there defensive pressure is intense and the refs swallow the whistle there is nobody I’d rather have then Kobe. Having said that his 4th quarter contributions before then (especially around the 4:00 minute mark where he goes into hero mode) have been vastly overrated the past couple years.

    He had so little space last night he had to double clutch his shots, no way are those better looks then a Gasol 15 footer or Bynum post-up.

  25. I don’t mind Kobe going taking the last shot. But have some kind of movement it’s always Iso clear out the side. Even though I disagree with Lakers fan nemesis Henry Abbott I do agree now they have become low percentage shots given Kobe’s lost athleticism

  26. Edwin G, this blog is filled with gushing words about Kobe Bryant. Performances like what he did in the first half totally merit those glowing words. However, when the same guy goes 2-12 in the second half of a totally winable game, and when that same player takes 7 shots in the last four and a half minutes (all but one misses) while his dominant center gets none, the criticism is totally well-deserved.

    That’s not to exempt historically bad play from the 1 and 3 positions, or to call recent coaching efforts anything other than “bad.”

    In the end, this post perfectly captures last night with its closing words:

    “…slamming the brakes on the team-oriented ball with which they’d built the lead in favor of attempting seven shots in the final 4:37, of which he made just one, and putting the finishing touches on a 2-of-12 second half shooting display that undermined the near-perfect game he’d played until that point, and will be remembered for being as fruitless as his first half was brilliant.”

  27. 28 Funky Chicken

    This is the same Kobe Bryant we have seen for 16 years. He is a scorer he expects to make every shot. Why when Kobe has a bad game everybody rails against the guy? Instead of treating him like NY treats Jeter.This is a top 10 player ever and people can’t stand him. I don’t get it. A lot of Lakers fans don’t appreciate Kobe’s greatness because of the way he plays or or his personality or something. Lakers always win in spite of Kobe and when they lose it’s because of Kobe.

    Funny thing is Pau was 5-14 last night that’s getting lost in this. Drew was double & triple teamed he had a great game. Kobe played the perfrct game til 3 mins. left then coaches decided to Iso. It’s just never enough for Kobe we’ll suck when he’s gone.

    I want to know how this Kobe ballhog not trusting his teammates started? Does anyone know

  28. Wow-
    Chauncey done for the year. Big news. Too bad we couldn’t have snaked Mo Williams before this happened. Clips will still be okay.

  29. anti Dwyer Abbott February 8, 2012 at 12:19 am

    @10

    Pierce was very aggressive last night.6/18 with 8 and 9.He passed LB.