Man, Byron Scott had a sweet stroke. I was inclined not to like Byron Scott when he came to the Lakers because he was traded for personal favorite Norm Nixon (the guy I wanted to model my game after, as much as a fifth grader could in the YMCA league). But Scott could shoot, providing the perfect three-point counterbalance to Kareem, Worthy and Magic getting into the paint. I loved that he played his high school ball a couple blocks from the Forum at Inglewood High. I loved that quick catch-and-shoot jumper (but he could still create his own shot). Man, he was just fun to watch.
Not that I can root for his team to win tonight.
Letâ€™s talk about Bynum. His removal from the Laker starting lineup and Phil Jacksonâ€™s comments to the media about his work ethic led to a lot of ink and talk show air time along the lines of â€œPhil rarely publicly criticizes his players, he must be really frustratedâ€ articles. Iâ€™m sure he was a little frustrated; Bynum had a few down games in a row and made some poor offensive and defensive decisions.
But Phil is the master motivator, he goes to the media for the effect. It was a calculated public slap on the wrist because Phil thought that would work better than a private conversation. Nothing more, nothing less. Letâ€™s not read too much into it.
Finally. So you said to yourself, â€œKurt, those new NBA stats you use are nice, but why canâ€™t we apply these concepts and equations to things that really matter?â€ Well, someone finally has: Babemetrics.
Congratulations to Jon from Dodger Thoughts being named to Los Angeles magazineâ€™s list of the most influential people in the city. Heâ€™s not sure he deserves it, but I am. For my money, the best blogger in Los Angeles canâ€™t get enough credit.
Whither Kobe? He will be a game-time decision (Iâ€™ll update this as soon as I see any word). My personal thought: itâ€™s a long season, donâ€™t rush back for one game and have the problem linger. If Kobe does play, look for a lot of both Rasual Butler and Desmond Mason to cover him (often at the same time). If Kobe sits, Mo Evans will get more minutes.
Itâ€™s not just Kobe. The Hornets are banged up too, with three/fifths of their starting lineup out tonight. Try not to be shocked by this: Peja Stojakovic is injured (back spasms). Also out are Bobby Jackson (cracked rib) and forward David West (strained right forearm).
And the injuries donâ€™t help this: The Hornets are the worst shooting team in the NBA right now, shooting just 45.9% (eFG%) as a team. Chris Paul is the go-to offensive guy but he is shooting just 47.1% on the season.
Then there is the fact Desmond Mason (he of the 39.5% shooting percentage and 7.9 PER) is starting. And guys like Marc Jackson and Rasual Butler (both with PERs under 10) are playing 19 minutes or more a game.
The bright spots. Chris Paul is the focal point and he is good, heâ€™s averaging 19.9 points and 10 assists per 40 minutes (he uses about 25% of the Hornet possessions, and a third of those are assists).
And Tyson Chandler is a beast on the boards â€” so far this season he is the second best rebounder in the NBA, pulling down 21.3% of the available rebounds (only Dwight Howard is better). Heâ€™s not a scoring threat (7.1 points per 40 minutes) but the Lakers need to keep him off the board.
Old School blogging. If youâ€™ve been at this a couple years youâ€™re considered old school, but Hornets 24/7 is still doing well because itâ€™s such a good and smart read.
Things to look for. The Hornets have actually been a good defensive team this season (eighth best defensive rating in the league) but where they have struggled is to stop good power forwards. This is a game Odom can do a lot of damage.
When the Hornets have the ball itâ€™s pretty simple: The Lakers must not let Chris Paul control the game. Defending the point has been a big Laker weakness, and while some of that falls to Smush (and Farmar) we canâ€™t expect anyone to stay in front of the speedy Paul. Rotations inside will be key. Also, make Paul work on the defensive end a little.