Encapsulating Kobe, In Three Plays

Darius Soriano —  December 19, 2012

For Lakers observers — both those that root for their success and don’t — there’s long been the phrase “you live by the Kobe, you die by the Kobe.” Last night, against the Bobcats, we definitely got a sequence of plays in which that phrase applied perfectly.

With a little over a minute and half left, the Lakers and the Bobcats were tied. Throughout his career, moments like this have been Kobe time. With the ball in his hands, Kobe got a much needed bucket by attacking the rim:

On the Lakers’ next possession, they still held the two point lead that Kobe’s lay-in had given them and with the ball in his hands again, Kobe went to work. After creating some separation with a hesitation dribble, Kobe used a great screen by Dwight Howard to set up a pull up jumper that he knocked down:

The next possession would be the last one for the Lakers’ offense. At this point, we’ve seen Kobe hit two big clutch shots to turn a tied game into a 4 point lead for his team. After getting the ball on the inbounds, Kobe again goes to the P&R but this time takes a more difficult jumper with the hedge man really on top of his shooting hand. The shot did not fall:

To me, the evolution of shots that Kobe took is pretty fascinating, but also encapsulate why fans can both love and loathe his approach in close, late game situations.

On the first possession, Kobe put his head down and got all the way to the bucket. The shot he hit was not easy and on certain nights he may have even earned a foul call. If a player is going to an isolation play down the stretch, this is the type of play you want them making. Even if Kobe had missed, he drew multiple defenders to him which opened up offensive rebounding chances. When talking about a strong, aggressive move, that is the perfect example.

The second possession represents an example of what will likely go down as a quintessential Kobe late game bucket. With the defense keyed in on him, Kobe still found a way to get to one of his preferred spots on the floor (right above the elbow) and get off a jumper. The shot was semi-contested, but was clear enough that he could easily get it off in rhythm. He’s hit countless shots just like that one. And while a long two point shot isn’t the most efficient look, I think most fans are okay with it simply because it was in rhythm from a spot he’s typically good from. If the shot would have missed there may have been some hand-wringing but nothing too over the top.

On the last play, however, we got the type of shot that people cringe at and point to whenever they want to focus in on Kobe’s “hero ball” approach to late game situations. Kobe came off the pick and rather than look to see what else was available, he simply drifted to the wing and took a heavily contested jumper against a defender who was, essentially, the double team man. The odds a shot like that fall are pretty slim (much lower than the jumper in the previous clip) and with an open Dwight Howard rolling to the hoop unimpeded, the the shot looks even worse on replay. When Kobe elevated for the shot, I thought to myself “that’s a forced jumper” and upon further review, my mind has not changed on that.

On all three shots, circumstance played a role. With the game tied, Kobe attacked to get to the rim. In that situation, FT’s are as good as anything else and he played for a shot as close to the hoop as possible. On the next play, his team was up by two and that margin lends itself to a different approach. The fact that he’d just driven to the hole likely gave him that extra half a foot of space to hit his jumper. With the Lakers up by four, his last shot was one that almost seemed like a throwaway. Charlotte needed two scores to tie (or win) and while any basket buries them at that point, they still needed a lot of work to get a win. It almost happened, but you know what they say about almost. (As was pointed out to me, the Lakers were only up by 1 at the time of Kobe’s final jumper. That makes my previous analysis moot. With the score being so close, Kobe’s final shot is exactly the type of shot fans kill him over and for good reason. Getting points of any kind is pretty important there just to create a cushion for their last defensive possession. The fact that Kobe settled for a long, highly contested jumper is a difficult decision to defend.)

In the end, it’s difficult to really sum up Kobe simply. Even those three shots don’t come close to doing it. But, those shots do, I think, offer a good representation of what fans both love and loathe about Kobe’s approach. In the span of three plays his choices seemed to go from perfect to “really?!” just like that. Maybe that’s why he’s the most polarizing player of his generation. Maybe it’s what makes him great too. What I know for sure, it’s likely never going to change. And that, for better or for worse, is what makes him Kobe.

Darius Soriano

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55 responses to Encapsulating Kobe, In Three Plays

  1. I’m a huge Kobe fan but I thought the same exact thing as I watched the end of the game last night. I loved the move where Kobe attacked the rim. I was “OK” with the shot above the elbow. But absolutely hated the last shot. I would still like to see some ball movement on end of the game possessions such as these as Dwight had an open lane to the basket but that’s probably wishful thinking lol. Kobe is probably not receiving much criticism because the Lakers lucked out and Charlotte couldn’t make a layup.

  2. On the 3rd shot the Lakers only led by 1 (see the score at the bottom). And good call as he did have Dwight wide open on the roll.

  3. Jeff,
    I was confused. I’ve adjusted the post to reflect your point. Thanks.

  4. Thing is he passes the ball to dwight, dwight catches it, defender hacks dwight, dwight statistically misses both free throws, with our players in worse rebounding position. If it was somone else rolling id agree but i just donttrust dwight with the ball at the end of a game, especially at the stripe.

    So while kobes shot wasnt gret id take it over dwight at the line.

  5. We can hope that a second top-level ball-handler will permit Kobe a slightly wider approach to hero-ball. If he trusts Gatsby to make late game plays with the O in his hands, that last play can still be run but with Nash in place of Artest, shifting over to the arc at the top of the key and with time to either get his shot or make one last pass. Then Artest is in place of Morris on the far baseline coming in for a pass or O-Reb. Even then, I think MWP and Dwight are in better position for the rebound if Ron is sneaking in from the baseline instead of Morris drifting with nothing to do on that big, purple L on the court.

    Was Dwight off balance after laying the last pick? It seemed he was a touch late to roll. It might have brought Kobe’s attention to him sooner had be cut a little earlier and the spacing would have been better for Ron (or in a future case Nash) to get that open shot around the top of the key.

    All that said, it could well be that Kobe will always have it in his head to get his shot off. I’ll be much happier to see him doing so after many more easy shots gotten over the course of a game where he takes catch and shoot opportunities from Nash’s decision making.

  6. I honestly believe you are all criticizing based on outcome instead of the plays themselves. Blah, blah, blah.

  7. darius: both encapsulating and perplexing are words i would used to describe kobe’s differential styles of play. oohs and ahhs and maddening to the point of losing one’s wits about them and more often come to mind when describing kobe’s shot selection as the countdown or wind down to game’s end. we get it and yet kobe never will because he literally lives on the planet pluto (desolate planet as far as we know) when not engaging men in the art of basketball.
    it’s that part of him that we walter mitty’s, when not on planet mars wished we were. i mean to have the wherewithal; the ganas behind the belief that no matter what happens, happens because of him. i get that and yet it borders on the insane to those who are prone to observe. years from now, the term kobeism will be thought of in the same revered terms as the jordan rules; mark my desolate planet words.

    keep up the good work darius.

    Go Lakers

  8. Looks like the same play 3 straight possessions only difference is positions were altered. If that’s Nash in the PnR with Howard he may hit Meeks, Ron or Morris who were open the first 2 possessions.

  9. Nice post. One of the more irritating things about blogs is people whose opinions are so ingrained that they cannot accept any form of nuance. For many, the example of Kobe’s forced shot is all they can see, and they use it to justify their view of Kobe as a ball hog of historic proportions. Others on the opposite end of the spectrum point out the good shots to justify their view, and characterize the (totally proper) criticism of the forced shot as “hating” on Kobe.

    Kobe, like every great player who has ever played any sport, combines greatness with bad decisions. On balance, the bad decisions are vastly outweighed by the good ones with the great players, and vice versa for poor players. The greatest athletes of all time have had numerous examples of bad plays. Hall of Fame quarterbacks throw dozens interceptions, many on awful reads & throws. Great running backs fumble the ball, and once-a-generation basketball players force shots. You learn to live with it and take the (mostly) good with the (undeniable, but generally less-frequent) bad.

    This post provides a “shades of gray” analysis that is generally pretty lacking these days, since it’s just so much easier to say that Kobe is the greatest, or Kobe is a thoughtless gunner, or to characterize those who disagree with you as “haters” or “mindless supporters.” I’ve always appreciated the posters here who bring a little nuance and can offer criticism where due, and praise where earned….

  10. As much as I didn’t like that last shot by Kobe, it was still a reasonably good look for him. I think I was more irritated by the fallaway, off balance, off of one foot jumper he took a bit earlier in the qtr.

  11. last shot is simply inexcusable but thats kobe and i expect that from him…jodie is such a rhythm shooter stu lantz touched on it last night but its become very apparent the last 5 games…nash will find him and good things will happen…ron ron is just playing awesome i loved the acquisition of him the day i heard it (somewhat controversial) hes always played good D but his offensive game (houston) never came with him ……i think hes doing well not because of this system but because hes playing the 4 effectively he pesters those bigger guys to no end on D which may be what he needs to fuel his O

  12. I have a question about the last play. After Sessions made the free throw on the and-1 to cut the lead to one, the Lakers got the ball back with 47 seconds left. That gave them a good amount of time to run a quality play and get the 2 for 1. Instead they ran the clock down and Kobe put up a highly contested jumper with 21 seconds left guaranteeing the Cats would have the last shot. Why not run a quality play in 14 seconds or so and leave around 33 on the clock? Then they would get the ball back with around 10 seconds left no matter what the Cats did?

  13. Kobe was hacked pretty good on the first shot. He should have been at the line. Like most I didn’t like the last shot. I do get tired of seeing Kobe dribbling at the top of the key while the clock ticks. They are much easier to defend that way. I’d like to see him get an easier look or hit an open man. Switching it up enough times will at least keep defenses guessing. They way it is now the defense can just load up on whatever side he seems to moving toward.

  14. I just don’t get it. There are so many topics to discuss…the benefits of MWP moving to PF, DAntoni intentionally limiting the minutes of the Pau and Dwight pairing, transition defense, the emergence of Meeks, Hill/Jamison being out of the rotation, etc…..and here we are, still beating the same dead horse and talking about Kobe’s shot attempts once again. Warning….we are approaching Abbot territory.

    Out of the final three plays of the game, Kobe made the right play on two of them, and a questionable play on one, mostly because he missed. What’s the angle here? Is it to suggest that Kobe should have been perfect and made three out of three plays rather than two out of three? Is it to suggest that Kobe should pass it to Dwight in crunch time so he can shoot free throws? Is it to suggest that Kobe’s shot selection is hurting the team, or is one of the major reasons (or even a minor one) to explain their poor record?

    I love this site because of the level headed analysis, and the topics are usually related to real issues on this team, but lately, the topics seem to be centered around the one consistently positive asset this season (Kobe’s shooting) and how it is potentially hurting the team. I just don’t get it.

  15. Kobe is Kobe, this is what he does. Humans tend to “go with what they know” and typically find it difficult to make quick and large changes all at once. Especially if that change deviates from a correlation of past success and if that change requires passiveness from a strong leader type personality. This describes Kobe.

    Kobe does have a history of playing team ball in spots. Kobe also has a history of impatience, when his teammates don’t produce. His effect on his teammate’s production, in a positive way, however, is undeniable.

    Do I think Nash will be allowed, by default, to run the offense, in it’s entirety, in late, close games? No way! When it feels like an important possession, Kobe will demand the ball, and that’s ok.

    You just hope that in late game situations, Dwight will eventually figure out where and when to position himself for offensive rebounds (pau already knows.) That the defense, as been the case over the last few years, will overachieve because of the overconfidence that comes with having the supposed “best closer on the game.”

    I don’t know what is going to happen from here on out in close games. Heck, I don’t know what this team will even look like the rest of the season. I just know it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

  16. Isolate – The Bobcats intentionally (accidently? fouled) when there was around 35 seconds left on the clock, meaning the Lakers would have had to go immediately on the out of bounds play to get a 2 for 1.

    I am not saying the Lakers would have gone 2 for 1 had the Bobcats not fouled, but in reality that is what happened last night.

  17. Good analysis – I wonder what his shooting percentage is on those types of contested shots (not including those where he gets the ball as the shot clock is running out)

  18. As a jump shooter myself, I’d play devil’s advocate and present a different perspective about Kobe’s last shot. There is a reason why even the most skilled jump shooter sometimes commits such a fault. A jump shot shooter makes a shot by dribbling to the opening spot then jumps up. The trailing defender is typically one step behind and won’t offer real challenge to the shot. MJ made his career with these jumpers. However, about 1/3 of the time the defender catches up and presents a real challenge to the shot. When this happens and there is someone open under the basket within his eyesight, the shooter can dump it inside. But if there is no one open under the basket (like the last shot by Kobe), he has no choice but forces the shot. It is indeed a bad shot, but forcing the shot under the circumstances is better than an indecisive turnover.

    The teammates should make themselves open when their teammate is taking a jumper to prepare for the 1/3 chances that the defender makes a great play and the shooter needs to dump the ball inside.

  19. LT,
    Was there a point where I was overly harsh on Kobe? A part where I didn’t praise his work on the plays he made very well? The Lakers have several days off between now and their next game. We have posts in the cue about Ron’s shift to PF, about Meeks’ play, and several other topics. I wrote about Kobe because I found that sequence (especially because they came on consecutive plays) interesting. If you didn’t, that’s fine.

    As an aside, I’ve been pretty vocal about how well I think Kobe’s been playing this year on offense and don’t think it’s out of bounds to dig a bit deeper and look at how possessions unfold or how they take place within the context of the game.

  20. Cdog, I had forgotten about that foul, but it happened 15 seconds after the Lakers had inbounded the ball. They Fouled Dwight right when he went set the screen for Kobe. I argue that they should have sent Dwight out for the screen very soon after inbounding the ball, if they fouled with 40 seconds left they still have time for the 2 for 1. Instead Kobe dribbled for 10-12 seconds then Dwight went to set the screen. Why waste the 12 or so seconds just dribbling out the clock?

  21. On the third play, as Kobe was dribbling towards Meeks, Meeks should have cut backdoor. If he cuts and his man follows, Meeks will create more room for Kobe. If he cuts and his man stays there or doubles Kobe, Kobe can hit him for a layup. Either way, he’ll be in a better position for an offensive rebound. There is no point standing 6 feet away from Kobe waiting for a pass.

  22. It’s one thing to be clutch with hitting good shots to win games, and it’s totally another thing to try to be clutch with bad shots in hopes of winning games.

    Kobe’s last shot is a great example of the latter that arguably kills the Lakers when they could be running something MUCH better.

    Hope Nash can help clean that up, but I don’t know.

  23. Was the shot forced? Yes, but I can understand Kobe’s rationale. He had hit his previous two buckets, the one immediately prior was also a jumper. He had the option to hit Dwight on the roll (which was a bit slow by the way), but Dwight at the line is an iffy proposition as we all know. I’d say the odds of Kobe hitting that jumper are better than Dwight hitting both free throws. The best play, in my mind, would have been for Kobe to hit Dwight on the roll then Dwight kick out to a wide open shooter as the defense collapses. However there’s no guarantee that Dwight would’ve got the pass off before being hacked, or that he would make that pass instead of attacking the hoop, and again, all before being hacked.

    Also, something to remember from the Phil/Tex days, they used to consider a jump shot as a form of penetration. Yes, Dwight was unimpeded on his roll to the basket, but that also means he’s in prime rebounding position in case of a miss. Obviously it didn’t work out, Kobe missed and Dwight didn’t get the board, but I digress

  24. Joe- Howard was wide open rolling to the hoop, had kobe passed him the ball it should have been an easy slam dunk, and an and 1 had they fouled him. even had he not slammed it home the chances are that he would have gotten one point out of the possession, which is one more than they got. There was a time when Kobe was the best closer in the game, and I hate to say it, but the trend has been the last couple of years that he has gotten worse in those situations to the point where, lets face it, in most situations, especially against good teams(playoffs against the thunder for example)he really isn’t closing jack. I think that this is not so much because of a decline in skills but rather him being content in taking very difficult shots instead of putting in the effort to get a better look or trusting someone else to make the play. I dont understand how any time someone questions Kobe’s decisions there are always those who want to call them out as Kobe haters or whatever when the reality is that they are just Lakers fanswho want the best for their team.

  25. Nick,

    Maybe they were freelancing. What you explain is why I am in favor of them actually running sets at the end of games. It gives the others players some kind of assignment on the play. At the very least they can help create more options for Kobe. Who knows, one of them may even get open for a catch and shoot.

  26. Pau is really the only player Kobe has ever trusted to pass the ball too in the PnR. Kobe caught Byombo off guard the first time that may not happen in the playoffs versus the west teams. The second play was vintage Kobe good vertical nice form great shot. The third is what will likely happen in the playoffs after gameplanning before hand. Pop will either give Kobe the low percentage jumper that he took or trap Nash/Kobe hard off the pick and force the ball to Dwight 18 ft from the basket. That’s where it gets tricky if Lakers trade Pau or D’Antoni insists on playing only Dwight at center late and running that same play. Pau can catch from there and drive, possibly shoot, drive and kick or find the open man. 4 possibilities when Pau would catch that pass. Dwight would be so far in no man’s land and only options would be pass it quick to possibly set another screen or bowl to the hoop recklessly maybe getting called for an offensive foul. It will be interesting to see in close games in the near future if D’Antoni runs the same plays that many times in a row. Because a good coach will know what’s coming before it happens and simply give the ball handler no other option than to feed Dwight 18 ft from the basket. And that would be a very low percentage option.

  27. You know the old saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”. This is great advice for sports AND life. It is what brings teams and people closer together.

    Kobe said after the game last night, “It’s about winning,” Bryant said. “Are you doing what you need to do to win the game? The game that’s in front of you. It’s not about how many times you shoot the ball, or how many touches you get. You’re just kidding yourself.”

    Kobe articulated the opposite philosophy, and he believes the best way for them to win is for him to put his head down when it counts and take the important shots. This is exactly how you alienate teammates and erode trust.

    I am truly baffled that Kobe never figured this out through the course of his career.

  28. I know it’s a bit offtopic but I don’t know if it has been mentioned before.
    DA:”Pau needs to shoot 3s”

    http://basketball.realgm.com/wiretap/225095/Gasol_Finds_DAntoni_System_Tougher_Than_Playing_With_Howard

    I can’t believe Pringles was hired with such crap…

  29. The sooner we move away from everything going through Kobe in 4th quarters, the better team we’ll become. I won’t blame him now due to injuries forcing him to do all the leg work. Once Nash is back which should be soon going by reports we’ll have another playmaker. We’ve sorely missed that option with only Kobe being able to create his own shot.

    If Kobe’s still having possessions where he plays hero ball with Nash on the floor, then I think something needs to be done about it. He’s not playing with a PG who would like to shoot as much as he does, Nash couldn’t give a damn if he shot the ball 5 times in a game. He’s the old-school PG who loves setting others up. Keep the ball in his hands and good things will happen. Same way it does with CP3 & Rubio (similar PG’s, pass first guys).

    Playing with Nash should give him the opportunity to take what the defense gives him instead of forcing plays constantly during games.

  30. I just want to see what happens when you lock Joe Atlanta and BigCitySid in a room together. Made for PayPerView.

    I am curious to hear people’s take on the Artest move to PF. I’m not certain, but based on the Ding tweets, it seemed liked MDA was implying this isn’t temporary tinkering, but that he’s going with this smaller starting lineup and Artest as the backup 4 for the forseeable future. It’ll be interesting to see the advanced stat #s for those lineups as the sample size grows. Right now the Duhon-Meeks-Bryant-Peace-Howard lineup has a +20 rating in 32 minutes. And of course Nash will utilize the small lineup completely differently.

    In a vacuum, Peace at the 4 makes a lot of sense. His foot speed has declined but he remains as strong as ever, and in today’s NBA – where a non-stretch-PF is the exception rather than the rule – he matches up defensively well with the top contenders.

    In the context of this team, such a move means everyone can see the writing on the wall for Pau. If a trade were to happen, how much MDA believes in Artest at the 4 is crucial to what sort of deal would take place. We had previously all asked for a stretch – or at least a more athletic – PF, but if, over the next month or so, we see that the lineups with Artest at the 4 are effective, then we could widen our scope by simply asking for a wing player in return. A SF (or even a SG, with Kobe moving to SF) would be a reasonable return, and would widen our trade partners.

    To be clear, I am not in any way advocating or hoping for a trade. Not until I see Nash’s effect – Nash in his true form, under MDA, not Brown – and what he can make of this team. But with that said, I don’t expect Nash to be a savior – or even look that good – right away. He admitted to poor conditioning back in the preseason and he’s now been resting for weeks.

  31. @snoop – personally i like the 3 man post rotation that MDA took a look at last night. It puts Pau/Howard on the flr together to start, then gets Pau some rest w Ron sliding in at the 4 – then Pau comes back in to give Howard a blow. The min were pretty reasonable as well – w howard getting 35, MWP 36, and Pau 29 – thats not too shabby.

    1. It gives Pau/Howard some time to work together – which they certainly seemed capable of doing (great facilitating by Pau to other players and on the give/go oop to Howard) and gives a straight up big frontcourt – especialy if they go w Ron or Jamison at the 3 on occassion

    2. Having a rotation that staggers Pau/Howard allows both to get touches in the post while having Ron as a stretchier 4 – thereby allowing Pau to get some of those low post touches he’s whining about and Howard too while not clogging the post – it also keeps a low post offensive threat on the flr at all times.

    3. Playing ron at the 4 stretches the flr on offense as he’s proven to be a capable 3pt threat – but the big bonus is – it allows him to guard the stretch 4’s that would give Pau trouble. Mullens singlehandley did a number on the Lakers in the first half – but then switching Ron onto mullens worked wonders shutting down the 3 pt bombs. which opened up the flr for the ‘Cats guards to drive.

    honestly i really like this rotation as it allows MDA to go with a variety of looks – plus gets the big guys time to themselves in the post. Now if Pau is unwilling to be aggresive or passes up shots or doesn’t take advantage of those mins where he’s the primary post threat – thats his own fault. Thats whats so frustrating though is that there were so many flashes last night w Pau’s facilitating/passing/decision making where you can see him being so effective in the system that MDA is trying to play – but he seems stuck on being the man a bit. the complaining after the end of the game about not being on the flr – Pau is a defensive liability when asked to guard guys who are smaller/faster and who can shoot 3’s. lakers didn’t need the extra rebounding presence – they needed guys who stay with their checks.

    As for Jamison and Hill – Jamison will get more burn in games where they need scoring – vs this game they needed to play a full half of defense to get back in it- which is not his strength as so many of you have pointed out so I don’t get the complaints from the same people killing MDA not using him this game.
    As for Hill – he’s gonna be the odd man out by default of his skill set or lack thereof. He’s not a good enough defender to take time from the main 3 and can’t defend out at the perimeter – and his offensive skills are limited to putbacks and offensive rebounding, can’t pass – which does nothing to spread the floor and his man can sag off and clog the post against Pau and howard – which is what MDA wants to avoid.

    Does the rotation work long term? Nash will help more insuring that Pau/Howard get easier shots (Ron has no prob getting shots as he found 18 last night – not too many bad ones necessarily). What is annoying is this was Pau’s first game back – his timing was off – and he still managed a line of 10 pts, 9 rebs, 4 blocks, 5 assists (depsite shooting 3/10) while playing not great defence – but then chooses to whine about the system and not being on the floor at the end of the game. A couple more pts if he made his shots and that would be an awesome all around line showing truly how well his skills can be utilized in this version of the Lakers. I’m just wondeirng if Pau is feeling too slighted about maybe feeling like 4th man on the totem pole in terms of importance after Kobe/Howard/Nash. His role might cahnge a little but he can obviously be effective here – but if he’s not accepting of that – well then hopefully he continues to play and move well like last night – Lakers will be able to get some youthful/pieces that may be more willing to step in.

  32. Kobe will never change but the good thing is his age will eventually catch him up that he could no longer play this hero ball anymore and I hope when that day will come, when Kobe is in the wheelchair, a better player will make him realize that he could have been even greater if not for his big ego that always yearn for a Kobe-hero.
    A very good article from you Darrius as you were able to see both side of the coin as I am way past that point.

  33. on the plus side – when Nash is back – MDA will make sure he has the ball in his hands at the end of games and he’ll run plays for kobe etc.. off the ball (no more 1 on one hero ball dribbling out the clock for the last 20 secs). Which is going to make Kobe so much more effective – he’ll likely see more open looks – and usually a mismatch or solitary defender – but he’ll also be a most effective decoy w 3 other finishers in Nash, Howard, and Pau around him.

  34. I don’t think Pau feels slighted…I think it’s more that he knows (as do the rest of us), that his strengths are not being utilized (and he doesn’t see how they will be). Here we have one of the most skilled big men in the game today, underutilized.

  35. How about the late-game “contributions” from the so-called Best Center in the Game, and per Aaron, second-best player in the NBA? Howard’s fourth-quarter line: roughly 5:30 on the floor; 0 shots; a fumbled pass that led to a turnover; a foul that led to an And-1 for Henderson; a goaltending violation, and one measly rebound.

    Kwame Brown numbers, at triple the salary! What’s not to love?

  36. So what do you/Pau/everyone else suggest Ray? Should the front office have not traded for Dwight Howard – because this would still be a prob if Bynum was here except the defense would be even worse. And before anyone brings up PJ/triangle – remember he had Lamar Odom playing the Artest role in the triangle as the mobile 4 that could play off the ball and away so as not to clog up the post. Can’t argue that it worked in the playoffs either because Bynum only averaged 18 and 24 mins in both Laker “playoff runs in 09/10 so Pau was almost always the primary post player. Lakers weren’t that great w both Pau and Bynum on the flr but with Odom rotating in and staggering their mins they were very effective since it spaced things better. Which is the exact same thing the MDA is trying to do Artest – so there is no point dumping on the current coach when neither the last two coaches could figure it out perfectly either. Thats why ridiculous comments from Magic about how Pau needs the ball blah blah blah conveniently revises and ignores the real history and circumstance of past and present successes and struggles.

    I really like Pau as he is the most all around offensively skilled big man in the league – the prob is he isn’t dominant in any facet of his game – yes Pau can score, can pass, can rebound/facilitate – but he isn’t a dominant scorer like Kobe/dominant defender like Dwight/ nor a creator/leader on Nashes level. And he has a propensity to disappear at times which none of the other 3 have. Say what you want about kobe being ultra competitive and wanting to win or Howard being to goofy – but at least they’re engaged every game (Dwight has been a little inconsistent but thats clearly because of the back) and neither them or Nash need anyone to smack them up the head, or coddle them, or tell them to harden the f’up and play.

    If he wants to play on the flr w Dwight, Pau will have to be the one that adjusts – because Dwight can’t play outside 5-10 ft and you can’t have two bigs clogging up driving lanes for Nash and Kobe to penetrate. Again – look at the stats – in 29 mins he filled the box score. He took the same amount of shots as Dwight and only 2 less free throws – and him and Dwight ran the flr well and fit quite well when things were more uptempo.- I don’t think that makes him look “under utilized” in this system at all – in fact it makes him look even more valuable to the team because of his all around impact on the game. But perhaps when Nash gets back – he can insure Pau gets 2-3 more “post ups” so he can feel like he’s more properly utilized.

    Pau just simply is not the most valuable individual player on the team – but he might be indespensable to winning a championship if he’s willing to adjust for the good of the team. The Lakers having that 3 man rotation limits Paus defensive liabilities covering stretch 4’s and makes the best of giving the lakers a #1 quality center on the flr at all times – while at least giving both guys a chance on the flr by themselves to “get theirs” and be “properly utilized” while not taking up too much of the other guys space. This is also the reality of the NBA today – there are no other teams with two dominant offensive low post players – it just doesn’t work effectively anymore – and Pau isn’t that good defensively/quick enough to cover the 4 so he has to be hidden in some ways.

    Pau should take a lesson from his brother Marc and start to model his high post game a little bit. And complaining/whining/commenting (however you want to phrase it) about how awkward things feel in your first game back off of a 8 game break you just had – in which your mins are going to be limited a little and the fact that you can be a defensive liability when on the flr w Dwight at the end of games – doesn’t look good. If playing w Nash doesn’t get him comfortable, then yes – Pau needs to go and the Lakers need to put all their $ on Dwight being healthy the rest of the season and playing big mins.

    Good on Ron for being the good soldier and accepting the 4 role – he’s going to excel there. Lots has been said of lakers not looking like they’re playing for eachother – good to know at least Ron is willing right now.

    Good articles from both D’Antoni/Nash. After reading the D”Antoni article – see if you can imagine Woodson being that forthcoming or willing to adjust things. Not too much you can argue with either what D’Antoni or Nash says.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/35115/dantoni-still-expirimenting-with-rotation

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/35095/nash-explains-the-lakers-struggles-in-dantonis-system

  37. I agree with Chris j …

    Dwight had absolutely no effect on defense in the last 5 minutes of the game.. Plus, the lakers really needed him to step up offensively, we all know Kobe always passes the ball late in games.

    ;)

  38. First of all long time lurker but nice site Darius,my two cents:
    As an old international fan of Lakers and Kobe who is watching NBA for 27-28 years now,I wish to see some praise and level headed analysis and some defense for this basketball warrior from time to time.As ESPN seems to have an agenda against Kobe,I know this because I read a lot.Not Yahoo not Fox not Hang-time NBA not CBS not CNN-Si ,only ESPN why?I have never seen any analysis on how Kobe is being brutally hacked and getting nary calls or how many times team has ridden on his back on comebacks or how some of his rebounds blocks steals assists vanish at the hands of stat-keepers.
    Anyways keep up the good site,interesting and enlightening to read some comments and articles.

  39. Good looking on the link Feel.

    Pau – “I think there’s enough looks for both of us. But again, it’s not a system that you post up a lot, so we’ll see. We’ve just got to figure it out, but if you’ve got two great post-up players, you’ve got to utilize it.”

    D’Antoni – “It’s Pau who has to expand his game, and he’ll expand out in the corner threes and he needs to take a couple, and we’ll get him in the post when we can.”

    As a coach, it’s imperative that you maximize the opportunity at success for your players by stratergizing to their strengths. This entails placing them in a position to succeed, even if it deviates from your coaching philosophy.

    While Pau’s quote states that he’s willing to ‘figure it out’, in my view, taking into account the entire quote, he’s basing that on the assumption that what’s to be figured out is how to get both he and Dwight an adequate amount of post opportunities. This plays to their strengths, which accordingly, allows the team their best opportunity to prosper.

    D’Antoni’s quote, on the other hand, wreaks of an individual who is stubborn and egotistic. What sense does it make to ask, arguably, the most offensively polished 7 Foot post player in the A, to ‘expand’ his game to hitting ‘corner threes?’ How is that maximizing his chance at success? Where does it benefit the team when you’re asking your most skilled back to the basket player to shoot low percentage (for him) threes? No matter how open he might be, this shouldn’t even be an option. Keep in mind, this is not Dirk or Bargnani to which we’re referring to. Also, to those who’ll say that D’Antoni, within the quote, did state that ‘we’ll get him in the post when we can’, even the writer of the article insinuates that those ‘last 3 words’ were said sarcastically.

  40. Darius, for the record, I believe you are very fair pertaining to your assessment of Laker personnel. Your only bias, like the vast majority of us here, is your a Laker fan, lol.

    Laker reality stat of today: Despite a season high 3 straight wins, the 12th place Lakers have actually LOST ground in their last 10 games (4-6) to all 11 teams ahead of them in the Western conf. Ouch!! As far as the three teams behind them, the Suns & Kings have actually kept pace with the Lakers (both going 4-6), meaning the only team the Lakers have won more games than over the last ten is 1-9 New Orleans.

    Lots of work to do over the last 56 games.

  41. i actually agree with both tra and jerke here. i think dantonis quote is reflective of his history. you can defend him all you want, but mda has shown little willingness or ability to revamp his system, and there is undoubtedly some ego there. this, after all, is the coach who threw a hissy fit when asked to hire a defensive assistant coach. i found his quote above to be childish and unproductive, more like an alpha dog establishing his role, reminiscent of kobes I eat first comments (ok from a player, not so much from a coach). if we slammed mike brown for asking pau to shoot threes, fair is fair. however, i think jerke makes a very necessary point. theres growing evidence that this is more of a simple personnel issue, not coaching. phil didnt close with two centers or play odom at the sf because he was wise enough to see its limitations (and this is an nba that hadnt fully gone small the way it has today). popovich has only now begun to wring offensive success from a duncan/splitter lineup, after years of effort. i was unhappy with the way brown used pau last year, but i might owe him an apology. there may be limits to what any coach can do in this situation. i dont think its wise for mda to actively eschew the post, but we also havent seen his true offense at its best yet. also, im not sure why my phones not letting me use proper capitalization or apostrophes, but i apologize for appearing semi literate.

  42. I like Metta at the 4 as a change of pace against certain matchups, but not on a regular basis. Metta is not a good enough rebounder to play the 4 constantly. I don’t like Kobe at the 3 at all. Offensively, it can work, but it puts a lot of pressure on Kobe defensively. Pau shouldn’t have to reinvent himself at this stage of his career. He has always been a low post player. If the coach can’t use him in that capacity, then it may be time to trade Pau and get some more D’Antoni-ish players in his place. It seems that MDA is looking for a lot of adjustments from players who have played a certain way throughout their entire careers. I understand that players should be willing to adapt and sacrifice for the common good, but asking players to do things they are incapable of or uncomfortable with might take a bit of doing. I wish Mike well, since I am a fan of the team. It remains to be seen if his approach will be the right one.

  43. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

    @jerke.. another great post you’ve been en fuego lately.

    to touch on a few of your points… reality is the twin tower experiment has not worked the last 2 years. in fact it really never was a big part of lakers success in 2009 and 2010… back then Bynum was mostly injured and Phil never had both on the floor much especially during crunch time when Bynum sat and as you mentioned odom was the key 4

    god knows how things will play out but D’antoni is doing his best to integrate pau with dwight by starting them then mixing it up with quicker lineups

    so if anyone is clamoring for pau you need to be careful what you wish for.. you are in essence either asking for the twin tower combo that has been a failure under brown and that even Phil could not make work OR you are asking for Dwight to relinquish most of his center duties to pau which again makes no sense

  44. LOL at darius soriano questioning Kobe’s shot selection,have you ever played a real game?

  45. If Jodie Meeks is good enough to start, then he should certainly be good enough to be trusted with being the back up shooting guard and helping Kobe to cut down on the minutes he has been playing. Mike D. is working Kobe like a rented mule. I can’t see how that is good for the long term goals of his team. In recent games, Mike re-inserted Kobe at a certain time in the 2nd Q., even when the 2nd unit was holding or upping the lead. Why not let them have a good long run of 7 or 8 minutes in the 2nd if they are holding their own? And this business of playing Kobe the entire second half is just mind-boggling. Everyone seems to think that Kobe’s ball dominant ways takes away from the confidence of his teammates. But, how about a coach who refuses to trust his bench and plays his star excessive minutes? What message does that send to his role players?

  46. Mike D’Antoni is simply CLUELESS when it comes to coaching the Lakers. His abuse of Kobe by overplaying him risks injury to Kobe. And he simply doesn’t know how to use two dominant post big men together like Gregg Poppavich and Phil Jackson would know how to do.

  47. “theres growing evidence that this is more of a simple personnel issue, not coaching. phil didnt close with two centers or play odom at the sf because he was wise enough to see its limitations ..”

    Snoopy, I’m in agreement with that statement. As a matter of fact, here’s a portion of my comment that was posted under the Lakers-Bobcats game recap. It was in regards to Darius’ comment about MWP becoming the backup PF.

    ” .. it would seem that D’Antoni is trying to channel the success of past Laker teams. Phil convinced LO that, the team as a whole, would be much better with him coming off the bench and it worked to the tune of 2 championships (keeping in mind that the transition was simplified, mins wise, due to Bynums’s health issues). The difference, based on last night’s substitution patterns, is that Pau (like Drew previously) might end up getting the short end of the stick in regards to closing out games due to the fact that Dwight is significantly better on the championship (defensive) end of the court. With that being said, having Pau as a game closing option (whether it’s for certain matchups, personal foul situations or poor free throw shooting by Dwight) has to be viewed as a positive.”

    My main issue with D’Antoni’s quote from the USAToday Article is the premise of him calling upon Pau to try and become something that he obviously isn’t. A three point shooter. And as I stated, that shouldn’t even be an option. Simple as that.

  48. Though i haven´t warmed up to D´Antoni at all so far, it seems Pau was utlized very well in his return –
    With regard to Kobe, as Chick always said: `hey! these guys are only human´. Thus the so-called `errors in judgement´ are just a part of the whole shebang that is pro basketball ..
    Luckily, Mamba is a Laker!!!!!!

  49. Hi Darius
    I wanna know more abt Lakers’ defense, like what’s their strategy? zone D or man-to-man D?
    cause i only see KB playing zone(lazy) defense but other teammates play man-to-man. can you break down more detail abt that? that would be a great help for me, cheers!

  50. @jameskatt Pop and Phil never really figured out how to make the twin towers combo work either, at least not under these circumstances. David Robinson’s last year was ’02-’03. That was well before the NBA went small with stretch 4s becoming commonplace and stars like Carmelo and LeBron playing the 4 to wreak havoc on mismatches. Both Robinson and Duncan were capable of making mid/long-range jumpers, as well as mobile enough as defenders to guard out to the perimeter, making them basically interchangeable at the high/low post.

    Others have already explained how Phil utilized Gasol/Bynum similarly to how D’Antoni tried to utilize Gasol/Howard in the last game with Metta playing the Odom role. Unlike Robinson/Duncan (or even Gasol/Bynum to a lesser extent), Howard is not an effective mid/long-range shooter. Therefore, for him to be effective, he needs the ball in the post or in a pick and roll situation. Gasol is more versatile, able to make more mid-range shots and passes than Howard, and is thus looked at to adjust his game to play from the perimeter. He may not be as effective there as he would be in the low post but he’s a lot more effective from the perimeter than Howard would be. Defensively, Gasol has been having problems guarding stretch/mobile 4s and I think this, not the offensive issues, is the biggest problem with playing Gasol/Howard together. I don’t see how the return of Nash will do anything to solve this defensive problem with Gasol except to make defense somewhat of a moot point by outscoring everybody.

  51. Fist off – to all those that struggle to submit msgs via ph and struggle w caps/punctation etc.. I share your pain lol.

    Re: D’antonis comment about Pau taking 3’s – he didn’t need to say this as people have taken it and overblown it in relation to Paus position on the court. If you actually watch any games, Pau (when paired w Dwight) is rarely if ever beyond 15-19 ft – he’s only taken 7 3’s on the season (last year he took 27) so he’s not being forced to jack the ball up from deep. The majority of his shots (when paired w howard) are well within his range at the high/mid posts – and he can always drive if he wants (he has the ability and had a beautiful swooping layup on Tues). MDA’s comment regarding 3’s was meant more I feel to illustrate that he feels Pau can be effective shooter enough at that position to be a threat – not that he was turning Pau into Dirk/bargs. Watch the games and you’ll see his positioning is closer than everyone thinks. Boris Diaw rarely took 3’s in phoenix and Pau is playing right in that same area – given his skill set – this should be an easy adjustment. Also – for those that keep insisting that MDA needs a stretch 4 – please look at his rosters as he never ever had one during his years in Phoenix (Marion/kurt thomas/diaw – and 26 games of tim thomas – that’s it) – hardly stretch 4s.
    Pau will always get great stats whereever he is but the “woe is me I’m not in the post when Dwight is on the flr” moping is getting old. My bigger concern is that
    Pau playing out of position at the 4 is too much of a defensive liability against true athletic/stretch 4’s – and that may be what necessitates the FO to trade him – not because he couldn’t fit in an offensive system.

  52. Funky,

    I think MWP at PF should be a permanent move, but I am not as convinced that Kobe should move to SF permanently, unless it is based on match ups.

    This strategy would work against most teams and good for the regular season, but come playoff time, I don’t think it would be wise to have Kobe spend his energy guarding the likes of Durant, Pierce and Rudy Gay for an entire series.

    I think the best solution would be to keep MWP at PF, and trade Pau for an athletic SF (someone like Iguadala), which would allow Kobe to remain at SG. This lineup would be able to run with anyone, and would also be beastly on the defensive end.

  53. Moderators, where are you when you are needed. This last post by Rashad Anoe is an advertisement for a link to a site that will only encourage other garbage to show up.

    I get enough of this crap, all day on the computer.

    Thank you,

  54. LT, I tend to agree with you. There aren’t many teams where I think it would be terrible to have Kobe play the SF, but for those opponents the team could either start Ebanks at SF or move MWP back to that spot and bring Pau back to the PF role (if he’s still around).

    This may be more conspiracy theory than anything else, but I would not be surprised if part of the MWP to PF move is motivated by a desire to see how well he can handle that role so the team can determine what kind of trade scenarios involving Pau are realistic. If the Lakers can only move Pau for a stretch 4, that limits the number of options, but if they feel like moving Pau for a wing player and maybe a backup center, suddenly there are many more trade partners to consider. This, of course, assumes that the organization is not satisfied with how Pau meshes with Nash upon his impending return.

    It kind of seems genius to me. Give Pau the opportunty to prove himself capable of playing alongside Dwight as an effective PF once Nash returns. If that works, great. However, if it doesn’t work, the need to trade Pau becomes more dire–in which case they will need to know what kind of deals they can and cannot consider. With Minnesota reportedly unwilling to part with Love but amenable to a Pekovic/Williams deal, you can see how the Lakers will benefit from knowing that they can live without adding another PF to the lineup, and something like the Minny deal or your (unlikely, but ideal) Iggy swap would be easy to pull the trigger on (for us, anyway). By contrast, if MWP isn’t up to the task of being a solid 4, deals like the purported Minny deal would obviously be non-starters.