Raptors, Sloppy Play Spoil Kobe’s Return

Darius Soriano —  December 8, 2013

First things first: It was nice to have Kobe Bryant back on the court. Just seeing him in the lineup and out there on the court was great and I’m looking forward to him and the team building on this first game back and using each proceeding game as a stepping stone towards what they can ultimately be this year. All that said, this game was a great reminder that with Kobe now back in the fold this team has a pretty big piece to incorporate and that will take time and will have some bumps along the way.

Kobe’s play offered spurts of encouragement and spells that showed how much improvement can still be made on his end. Let’s get the not as good stuff out of the way up front. On the night Kobe had 8 turnovers, mostly on plays where he either forced passes into too small a window or misread a play and simply passed the ball to the other team. His timing was off on multiple plays and it produced some plays that he will surely want back when he looks at them on film. Further, when looking for his own shot he was a bit tentative at times and looked to either give up the ball too early or didn’t press the action as he normally would. On one play, Kobe actually got by his man with a nice first step and was fouled from behind right as he left his feet. But rather than shoot and get to the FT line via a continuation, Kobe passed while in the air and the Lakers took the ball out on the side. What seemed clear to me is that Kobe was looking to fit in a bit too much to the style the team has played before this game and he was a little too pass happy.

On the other hand, Kobe did flash some very good playmaking on the night and showed that he hasn’t lost his feel for the game at all. While he only tallied 4 assists, he made several very good reads and was pretty decisive in where he wanted to go with the ball on any given possession. The ball rarely stuck in his hands for more than a few beats and when operating in the P&R he was mostly solid in stringing out his dribble and reading the play in front of him. Again, he got in trouble when he got sloppy with his delivery on some passes, but for the most part I was pleased with how he surveyed the floor and in his initial read of a play.

In terms of his ability to work off the dribble in isolation, I thought we got a mixed bag and come away with no definitive answer as to what he’s capable of doing at this point. On more than one occasion he was able to get a step on his man to gain an advantage off the dribble. That was countered, however, by other plays where he looked a step slow and not able to beat that initial layer of defensive pressure. As for his shot, it looked a bit flat and overall his legs didn’t yet seem game ready. There were not a lot of quick pull ups or explosive movements when working off the dribble, but his footwork looked solid and he looked very comfortable working out of the triple threat anywhere on the court.

All in all, none of what we saw was a surprise and at this point I can’t say I’m overly concerned about where he is. A lot of his issues looked to be a matter of timing and not yet having his full legs under him. Considering he hasn’t played a game in since last April and was talking about not yet having his “sea legs” the other day, what we saw should have been pretty much expected. Now, if he still doesn’t have his legs in a few weeks or still isn’t creating much separation off the dribble via sharp movements, I will reassess. But as of now, I consider tonight a mild success in terms of Kobe as an individual.

From a team standpoint, this first game showed that there is much work to do in terms of sorting out lineups and rotations. The Lakers’ best three players tonight were Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, and Xavier Henry. All three of those guys are natural shooting guards and down the stretch, when he had to choose, Mike D’Antoni put in Kobe and took out Henry while leaving Meeks and Young in. After the game D’Antoni said that he wanted to play Kobe because that’s what will happen in the future so, I can see his logic there. What is harder to sell is leaving in Young while taking out Henry considering how well the latter had played to that point. In the moment I thought taking out Henry was a questionable move, but that was the decision and I can live with it. It may not have worked out tonight, but it could have. Again, it’s not like Young had played poorly to that point.

The larger question, though, is how the lineups will get sorted out when everyone is healthy and what the substitutions will be like to build successful lineups. This may be the biggest challenge facing D’Antoni and tonight was an example of that, especially on the wing.

What didn’t aid in matters, though, was that the team really didn’t have any big men play particularly well. Pau Gasol was dreadful overall and sat the entire fourth quarter. Robert Sacre was in over his head against Jonas Valanciunas and got into early foul trouble that landed him on the bench. But even when he was in the game, he wasn’t making much of an impact outside of a handful of well played team defensive possessions. Jordan Hill turned it on late in the game, working the glass and doing other Jordan Hill things, but wasn’t that strong in his early stint in the first half. I was glad that Hill got the minutes down the stretch because he was the big man playing the best, but overall the Raptors’ front court had their way with their Lakers’ counterparts and if you’re wondering where this game was lost, that’s where you will find your answers.

Overall, I am disappointed in the loss and wish on the night Kobe returned the team, as a whole, could have played better. There were some signs of life in stretches, but it is clear it will take time to incorporate Kobe back into the lineup and for him and the guys who share the court with him to find a cohesion and balance in how they operate. Some of this will be dependent on coaching, but more of it will depend on guys just getting familiar and acclimated in how they best work together.

There are still some things that concern (Pau, especially, with his bad ankle and heavy legs needs to find his way soon) and sorting them out as quickly as possible is obviously a priority. But, for one night at least, I will put those things in the back seat and just say it’s good to have #24 back.

Darius Soriano

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47 responses to Raptors, Sloppy Play Spoil Kobe’s Return

  1. Glad Kobe is back but very disappointed to lose to a undermanned team . More concerned with Pau and Blake who were terrible tonight.

  2. Good game,cohesion will come around but I think Pau is really injured he should rest,looks way off.

  3. Scary stat!

    Starting. 5 a minus. 75.

    Bench all positive numbers.

    Wow that is scary -75.

    Watching Lakers for 40 years and that could be a record for the team.

  4. Pau should not play again until his ankle is fully healed. As it stands now, he’s a liability on both ends of the floor. I’d like to see what Ryan Kelly could do, even if only in limited minutes.

  5. Wow. I don’t know what to think. I think Henry should have finished the game. He had just made two three pointers and kept the Lakers in the game. It all went downhill after he went out for Kobe. I’m not bashing Kobe or anything. I’ve been looking forward to his comeback, but I think this kind of superstar treatment has the potential to be a chemistry killer for this team. I hope I’m wrong.

  6. Count me in Rubenowski. But Kobe showed enough willingness to pass so that’s a good thing. But I don’t get D’Antoni’s ‘that’s what will happen in future so’ remark. I mean yeah that’s what will happen in future but this game had better chances to be won if Xavier played. I know each win counts by the end of the season. Its west.

    Anyways I know I don’t have a coach’s insight. I hope we perform better in the next.

  7. Darius,

    You and most members of this blog have been extremely kind, almost deferential to Kobe. In this game at least, that’s undeserved. Against Toronto, Kobe showed that he was human, and much like all of the other older star players that come back from an Achilles: he’s dropped from super star to the level of a typical NBA player, compensating for athleticism with smarts as much as possible–a little slower, a defensive question mark.

    His fourth quarter smackoff against DaMar DeRozin had to be humiliating. Gamewise, it was Kobe (-16) vs. DeRosin (+22), but it was worse than that, since DeMar did what needed to be done (just like young Kobe), while Kobe failed to do what he used to do at crunch time. Even many on this blog would have preferred to see Xavier as the primary scorer during those last 3 minutes.

    Kobe’s going to get stuck in the middle much like our Laker team: not hopelessly bad, but not a superstar any more.

  8. I didn’t see the game… But yea, it is confusing that D’antoni didn’t keep playg the hot hand. If anythg, Xavier cudv playd SF with kobe.

    Pau is turng into an affordable free agent for next year(if he really wants to stay a Laker) if he keeps this up.

    Kobe needs a couple weeks… Just glad he is healthy.

    Maybe startg 5 of the future if D’antoni stays:
    Farmar, Kobe, Johnson, Hill, and Pau(or his replacement)… Bench: Swag, Xavier, Sacre, rookie

    I jus have this wish for a lotto ball for LA… They need all the cheap quality help they can get.

  9. drrayeye,

    I’m certainly not one of those who you say is “almost deferential” to Kobe. Yes, Kobe’s rhythm was off and he certainly looks slower than what he used to be but you can’t look at 20 something minutes of game and say that he’s done. Every player that has been injured for a long time looks rusty when he comes back, specially if said injury doesn’t allow him to run, cut and all the other things that a basketball player needs to do on court.

    Kobe will probably never be as fast as he used to be because of his injury and because of his age, but he will look better for sure. He’s just coming back to a team that has good routines and good chemistry, so he is obviously the player who is a bit lost, but the game will “slow down” to him once again. Kobe can score 23/24 efficient points per game once he’s in synch with his teammates. He can also get more than 6 assists but I believe his defensive numbers will certainly go down, as it should be expected.

    Now, on the game itself. I understand MDA’s point about doing what he will be doing in the future but I think this was maybe too soon. We simply can’t lose home games against eastern conference fodder specially because we have a really difficult schedule out West. He should do whatever was necessary to win and, in everyone’s opinion, that meant going with Henry instead of Kobe late in the game. That was a big mistake on his behalf but isn’t the most important thing of this game… We simply can’t allow teams to open a game with a 15-2 run on our building and let them burst for 30 points (granted that they scored a half court shot at the buzzer) in the first quarter.

    We had too many turnovers (one of Steve’s in the first quarter was really as bad as it gets), couldn’t play good transition defense and couldn’te protect the paint. So, by topic:

    Turnovers: Kobe was out of synch and Blake didn’t help. As soon as Kobe starts to develop some chemistry with the rest of the team, I think this problem will sort itself. If it doesn’t, then we’re in trouble and we would be better off without Kobe (doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re comitting 4+ turnovers per game you’re killing your team)

    Transition defense: Obviously those turnovers didn’t help but I think that the guy on the corner (offense) is not starting to run back once a shot is made. I may be wrong, but I think we’re seeing a bit of that. Easy to fix as well…

    Protecting the paint: Pau’s play was terrible and Sacre did what he could (remember that he’s not that good to begin with). Hill finished way better than he started but Amir Johnson cannot be the one who beats us inside. Look, I get it that our defensive system is a bit demanding on our bigs. We simply deny any drives to middle (or try to) and force everyone to drive baseline. At least I hope it’s on purpose, because everyone was really forcing their opponent to the baseline. This means that our bigs must provide help before they can actually reach the rim and that simply didn’t happen (at least with the DeRozan). On the occasions that Toronto failed to shoot in the paint, our bigs were out of position and therefore surrendered rebounds to the opposition. That simply cannot happen. We need to improve in these areas.

    Maybe if Pau, Blake and Kobe can find their offense we will give up less points in transition due to an increase in our offensive efficiency. Maybe being more effective will make the opponent work harder on defense. If we cut turnovers we will, definetly, surrender less fast break points. And if our perimeter defense improves just a bit, we will get more defensive rebounds and better overall defense. It doesn’t take much… you get 4 or 6 points on Kobe’s and Pau’s shots, you make less two turnovers and save 4 points in fastbreaks and you play better D and surrender 4 less points of offensive rebounds. That’s a 12 point differential right there…

  10. Back to reality. BIG NAMES in the past don’t matter a thing in the present if they can’t produce. Down the stretch D’antoni shouldn’t have subbed in Not-quite-ready-Kobe when X was keeping us in the game.

    And what’s the matter with Gasol? Ever since the girlfriend incident of Phil’s days he’s been mr. Excuses… Blame the gf, blame the olympics, blame the injuries, blame Dwight, blame D’antoni’s system, blame more injuries, etc. he’s just not the same anymore and I don’t think he will ever be (really hope I’m wrong). Lakers management knew but he’s still with us for basketball reasons.

  11. Lots of opinions here that seem to dismiss the simple fact that this was Kobe’s first game action in 8 months and that he is a training camp and 20 regular season games behind everybody else. What I saw last night encouraged me to think Kobe will be able to still play at a superstar level. Let’s give it a little time before putting the Mamba out to pasture.

  12. Kobe is human now. But I see alot from last night’s game that encourages me to see a superstar yet human still. However, the only drawback would be his new contract. If he had accepted 15 x 2 that would have been the most ideal.

    The past 2 games we have been absolutely murdered in the paint. This is the part where we miss a commanding presence in the middle. In a game where Pau looked like he wasn’t really in it from the start, Toronto was looking like a juggernaut against us. Amir Johnson. Nuff said.

    The Lakers need to consider looking at trade options from other teams. If we intend to catalyze the retooling process, we need to. If you’re going to run Jordan Hill as a small-ball C, we need to find a good option at PF with range and with some girth.

    The Kings pulled a big trade today. While I contend that the Raptors won that deal (by getting rid of Gay’s 19M salary next year) and acquiring Vasquez in the process, I believe opportunities are starting to rollover from other teams. Now we know that Toronto is actually trying to shed salary and tank, there is very good reason to believe parts will be available.

  13. A logjam may develop with all the wing players have. Kobe isn’t going anywhere. $48.5M attests to that. Perhaps a package for Kaman and one of the wings would net the Lakers a solid frontcourt contributor. Pau ‘s inconsistent play and constant nagging injuries have rendered him unreliable at best. The Lakers need a paint presence ASAP.

  14. Hindi,

    I didn’t know MDA said that, but it makes sense. That’s why I don’t know what to think. On the one hand, I would’ve liked for Henry to finish the game. On the other, I know later in the season, when Kobe gets his stamina back and all that, he’ll be the closer, so it’s a good thing for him to practice that from the get-go. But still, if this is not a contending team then why limit Henry’s growth, you know what I mean? I wouldn’t want his morale to sink.

  15. Farmar’s absence is the biggest problem facing the Lakers. They don’t have anyone capable of replacing him, including Nash. Its the Farmar role, that Kobe could embrace to gradually integrate his game with the current players.

    Henry, Johnson or Nick Young have no previously playing with Kobe. Its an adjustment the other players will have to make. Kobe eats first.

    Short term MDA should start Kobe at PG, Meeks at SG and bring Blake off the bench as PG to rest Kobe.

  16. Lakers will be fine. Small adjustment period adding a player into the mix 19 games into the season.

  17. Not sure what realistic fans were expecting from an older guy returning from a very serious injury who hasn’t played in eight months, but basically last night was it. Personally I was surprised that:

    -Kobe played as long as he did: 28 mins
    -Kobe played the 2, I thought and still do that Kobe will be better off at the 3 now (Lakers have more talent at the 2 than 3 also)
    -Kobe got 8 rebounds.

    Waiting to hear how Kobe’s body feels today.

  18. @ Rubenowski,
    All I remember is that it was for those desperately needed W’s at the end of last season, that Kobe had to play those extra minutes, which I think took a toll on him.
    All I mean to say is that Lakers need to do what ever it takes to win. A win now or a win at the end of season is the same, but you have your back against the wall by the season end.
    And we had more chances with Henry I think as he had scored on consecutive possessions. He was the reason the team was competing. He was hot. But then I am sure D’Antoni has far better vision then I have.
    I am a procrastinator in my life and everytime I learn this lesson that it’s better to do things when you can easily do them. Rather then panicking in the end to get the stuff done. Well I think I am exaggerating it but that’s my point of view.
    Lakers play for contention. We know. But if you put the team first, then you have to put the winning before satisfying egos. I think Xavier should have been rewarded by keeping him on the floor. Okay I won’t over blow this one!
    On to the next one, I hope for the best.
    Go Lakers!

  19. It’s going to take time for KB to get his “game legs back” & time for the team to adjust to him. Who knows; he may never be the same but he will be able to help this team. Let’s face it, we are not in contention for the ‘ship so we have to be patient. Go Lakers!

  20. Ok guys take Kibe out of the equation. The starters were a minus 75 and Pau, Blake and Sacra looked like the belong in an old timers game.

    This team needs to

  21. Finish my thought

    Team needs to unload some baggage or Kobe working to come back will be a waste. Pau , Kamen, Williams out. Also notice how bad Wes looked when surrounded by Pau, Blake and Kobe? Slow and fast is like oil and water.

  22. darius: how dare the raptors spoil kobe’s return. in thirty years, god willing; we’ll all remember exactly where we were when kobe bryant returned to his first nba game with the los angeles lakers after months of rehabbing from his ruptured achilles tendon. for many, in their seats at stapes; for others, in their favorite seats at home in front of their big screens; feet perched up, favorite beverage in hand; and for a few of us who were too busy with their own lives who could just catch a glimpse of the start of the game at their favorite sports bar. others waiting patiently for their name’s to be called; david h: dinner for two at our local pizza, pasta restaurant here in orange county.

    thought i was witnessing a replay of the game; all in slow-mo. then realized, the bulk of the core of the starters are slow-mo. in winning situations, something can be said for slow- mo. not tonite; maybe not ever.

    understood, coach d’antoni’s hands are tied as well as tongue when it comes to our beloved kobe bryant. who can blame him? if he’s not anything, he ain’t stupid. double negatives nothwithstanding; the unsolid starting core were playing to the inane sights and sounds of double negatives throughout the game.

    enough of the positives, first game back; not totally prepared and totally in awe of the unexpected. who’s got next?

    just keep on dancing.

    Go lakers

  23. Kobe: I agree with Sid’s comment above. Also, Kobe did look to be over-weight to me. He needs to drop a few. He over-facilitated (this is ironic for those who do not like him). He needed to be more focused on his own game. That all said, some of the comments above are writing off Kobe already. Can we give this more than 1 game before we do that? With regard to Kobe being human: Yes – I think I knew that all along. He is a very expensive human. Let’s see how this pans out. One game after 8 months of inactivity is not very conclusive.

    Game: Even with Kobe coming back and changing up things, this game was beyond bad. Toronto was playing horrendously, and they lost their best player moments before tip-off. They played a very small crew during the game. And they beat us handily on our home court. This was not all Kobe. We have some gaping holes. And we are 500 now, so we are on pace to win exactly 41 games for those interested in such things.

    “The Lakers need a paint presence ASAP.” + “we have been absolutely murdered in the paint. ” Indeed – I am hoping this is not a surprise to anyone in our FO.

  24. Nice post David. Since you are a local feel free to stop by my warehouse in Orange and pick up some Xmas wine for being a fellow Laker poster.
    http://www.calbevimports.com

    Ken

  25. Agreed with BigCitySid’s comment. Way too many people claiming the sky is falling way too early. Really this has been a great season so far. I’m happy with this team and I’m willing to take a few lumps during the season to watch this team improve. I also believe the FO has opportunities to improve this team this year.

  26. 2 problems…Kobe’s style doenst fit D.A.’s system……D.A. rotations are not good…..D.A’s system is good with the right players….

  27. hey ken: will do. this is you right?

    Cal Bev Imports
    1115 W. Collins, Orange, Ca 92867
    Phone 714.363.0565

    see how we shamelessly put that out there?? tis the season, right? y’all.

    Go lakers

  28. I personally think Kobe should be at the 3….he definitely will need help from a perimeter perspective defensively…not to mention Meeks is playing great…would like to see him more…just don’t put the ball on the floor!

    Kind of concerning that there were so many turnovers in a D’Antoni offense that really isn’t complicated and by design works well because of its simplicity of fluidity of spacing and movement.

    Kind of concerning that Kobe received basically 25 mil a yr for production that by the looks of things will not live up to the production on the court…

    Pau is too inconsistent. This is crazy. I’m not a Pau basher but it is ridiculous that this guy as a post player is shooting 40% from the field. If it’s not an injury its him complaining about his role (oh it’s D’Antoni’s fault) in the offense.

    Hard to trade anyone because the most productive players aren’t really making that much money to do get anyone back (Young, Meeks, Henry) etc…Pau is only useful as an expiring contract….this season has been crazy…most of the names that usually do well are not doing as they usually do. I’ve never seen Novak miss that many 3′s in a game…I’m not sure where the Lakers go from here for the rest of the season.

  29. I think we can all agree that the current version of the Lakers – with or without Kobe – is not a contending team. There is simply not enough experienced front-line talent. Perhaps a couple of our players will develop, but they are not there now. That being the case, the team has developed a very fragile structure, built on coaching, camaraderie, and sharing the ball. This has allowed them to remain a .500 club through the 3rd worst schedule in the NBA to this point.

    Now we add a rusty superstar into the mix. I think last night was exactly what we might have expected. I didn’t, but then again I am not exactly objective about this team. Not only were we impacted by Kobe’s rust, but all that delicate team framework was completely fractured – nothing worked the way it used to. We are not talented enough to overcome this with individual play. We are a developing team and we just got a giant setback. Now we have to reconstruct the coaching, the camaraderie, and learn to share the ball with a superstar. This will come much faster than it did early in the year, but it will be a process.

    I want to see if there is any improvement when we play the Suns – win or lose. Go Lakers!

  30. Ken,
    Making a note of your address. Will stop by on the way to my daughter’s place in Newport Beach when I can.

  31. Kobe was almost human last night. He looked like many of us would have looked in our first NBA game. After the initial Jitters he seemed to warm up and look more fluid. But he did not look totally comfortable and looked even more anxious sitting on the bench for long periods of time trying to stay warm.

    The jury is still out on what the finished product will look like. He might not be back to 100% until next season. For one night I was happy to see Kobe back in a Laker uniform.

    As far as last nights game. Gasol looked bad, a season of inconsistency from him. Kobe set him up with a number of good looks that he just simply missed. Blake really looked out of sync with Kobe and seemed thrown off by not handling the ball as much as he had been. Hopefully he doesnt regress and can continue the good season he had been having.

  32. “I think we can all agree that the current version of the Lakers – with or without Kobe – is not a contending team. ” Indeed
    “Perhaps a couple of our players will develop, but they are not there now. ” Also agreed – and I will add – in most cases – will literally not be here much longer.
    So Craig – there is the crux of it : ) Those two statements make me very depressed, yet somehow you see hope : ) And don’t worry about me, I have Kobe back – so things are going to be fun and interesting – for that piece of my fandom. However my overall Laker side yearns for clarification and a plan for how your two quotes above will change.
    In any case the new process/reconstruction of coaching methods you speak about is correct.
    And so we agree on much : ) Go Lakers !

  33. I won’t make much out Kobe’s return. We really won’t know what Kobe Bryant’s consistent production will look like until he gets his timing back. Kobe’s picture will be clearer around All Star break.

    However, the point about contrasting styles is right on. Up to this point the Lakers have been playing an up tempo, move the ball quick, mostly jump shooting basketball style. It plays to the strengths of most of the players on the roster. But Kobe wants to play slower. He wants to dribble a lot in half court sets and prod the defense while looking for an opening. And we know he wants to post up.

    It will be interesting how D’Antoni manages this.

  34. darius: the will of the people, and i’m talking about fellow bloggers here at fb& g; will be fine with coach d’antoni when he decides to go with the unit with the hot hand. he passed on that opportunity last night. that was last night. beginning tomorrow vs the suns from phoenix, he’s smart enough to know that no one will fault him in going with the hot hand. who knows, the hot hand just may be…..

    Go Lakers

  35. the other Stephen December 9, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Great point about protecting the paint, Renato.

  36. the other Stephen December 9, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I don’t exactly remember what happened on the breakdowns. Amir just sort of…happened. So Pau, Sacre, or Hill haven’t been doing well in helping from the weak side post after we force ball handlers to the baseline, but it doesn’t seem like we have better alternatives, since our wings (except Wes, who’s usually probably defending the best opposing wing) don’t really have the speed to blitz over from the weak side perimeter anyway.

  37. We all knew Kobe would look old and slow last night. It’s the next few months that will show us if Kobe will be an above average player or a washed up scrub for the rest of his career. No matter what I will always admirer him for not retiring after blowing out his achillies like every other mid 30′s vet before him.

  38. Blake was really pissed after the game. I don’t know if this has something to do with Kobe taking over the ball on possessions and making Blake more of a spot up shooter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq1pCrKGMOo

  39. Kobe looked good.

    he looks like he’s just getting back to ball, like in a preseason game.

    he didn’t look especially slow and his hops looked sufficient when rebounding. obviously, he’s hesitant on his shot and taking the ball to the rim. i don’t expect that to continue al season.

    if he plays like last night for the next month, well…then he’s done. for the first time back after a severe injury, he looked great.

  40. what looked BAD last night were the Laker bigs, especially Pau and Hill. they’re both nursing injuries though.

  41. My son asked me during pre-game :”Why does Kobe look different?” The dude is heavy now. It all wasn’t coming off in one game. Prognosticating that Sunday’s performance is his new average is hysterical.

    If there are no personnel changes (trades) to be made, Farmar has to start. Blake defers too much to Kobe and they don’t compliment each other well on perimeter defense. Just too many slow footed people in that starting line up.

    Pau, if you’re hurting, don’t play. If you play, stop making excuses. It seems every other sentence is riddled with excuses.

  42. We have to give kobe a chance to get in shape and shake the rust off. For the last 4 or 5 years kobe has weighed about 205 during the season. Right now he’s 225. He needs to lose about 10-15 pounds before he can get back to the kobe we are used to.

    It’s going to be a harder adjustment period for the team because Kobe is primarily going to be the facilitator until Blake arm heals farmar and Nash get back. Kobe has to learn his teammates tendencies. Once he does that and our pgs get healthy the offense will run smoother and kobe will find balance between scoring and facilitating.

    Kobe being back will immediately help on the boards. Kobe is a pretty good rebounding at the guard position. The lakers have been getting killed on the boards because they’ve been lacking a 3rd player who can go in and grab a defensive board.

    But our big men play is more of concern than Kobe right now. Hill has regressed a bit to the norm. He is what he is. He’s a hustle player. He’s going to get some offensive boards make a couple of energy plays. Sacre is somewhere in between gasol and hill. He’s just not that good yet so there will be some up and downs and growing pains. Kaman has been injured and not playing. Pau has been “hurt” and ineffective on both ends. Until they get some collective consistency the big men on both ends of the court the lakers will be up and down as a whole.

    It’s sad but the reality is pau may be done number 2 guy. He gives you next to nothing on the defensive end and is inconsistent on the offensive end. I want to attribute his play to nagging injuries but he’s been playing like this for 3 plus years and the nagging injuries probably won’t go away this season. I hope I’m wrong but I have a strange feeling we are seeing the end of gasol’s tenure as a laker.

  43. @Joel….

    Agree that the Lakers’ bigs are of the utmost concern. I can’t believe, given the state of the Lakers’ frontcourt, that Chris Kamen doesn’t deserve a look.

  44. Craig call me when you plan on it I will intro you to my partner who is Pres of retired NBA Players Assoc. Lots of fun stories.

    714-363-0565

  45. After getting over the initial disappointment that Kobe didn’t have an epically great game in his comeback, I came to the conclusion that overall it was a pretty good starting point.

    8 turnovers is glaring, but its softened by the fact that 2 of them were due to Sacre mishandling good passes that should have resulted in assists (the bounce pass that Sacre mishandled as he was cutting to the front of the rim was perfect). One of them Kobe came off a pick from Pau, and fired the ball in the corner to Meeks, only Meeks had taken a few steps out of the corner while Kobe was using the pick…. As for the other TO’s, well yeah, they were pretty bad.

    With a little luck, and better shooting from his teammates, Kobe’s stat line could have easily been a very respectable 13 pts 8 Rbs 8 ast 6 to’s… I came away thinking that Kobe had a bad game due to being out of rhythm more so than because he isn’t physically capable of playing at a high level anymore. Being out of rhythm is expected (M.J went 7-28 fg/fga in his comeback game, and he was much younger and hadn’t suffered a devastating injury). Kobe was able to hit 2 Kobesque shots (left hand from left block, and turnaround jumper from right block area) that provided proof that he can still get the spacing he needs to put up shots. I look forward to Kobe being more aggressive in his 2nd game back and not allowing defenses to play the pass as Toronto did in the 2nd half.

  46. Mud,

    I concur. This is, after all, Kobe’s first pre-season game. Of course he’ll be rusty and a little out-of-shape. We shouldn’t be shocked at that.

    Let’s compare notes in another 2 weeks.

  47. Kenny T,

    You bring up a good point. Why has Kaman been exiled to Siberia? Is his back really that bad? I think we need him. He’s far more mature than Sacre and less inclined to have ups and downs. And he certainly couldn’t have been any worse than Pau last night.