Here are some links and some other random thoughts going through my head as I’m inside an office on another nice day in the Bay Area.
*Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone. Now go celebrate by listening to Tas and Skeets’ song tribute to the Irish players in the league. You know, guys like Lamar O’do’m. Classic. (hat tip to Probasketballtalk.)
*We linked to this earlier today, but if you haven’t done so already, go check out the video break down of Artest guarding Tyreke Evans from last night. Evans had his moments (that spin move and layin was gorgeous), but overall Ron did a really good job denying Tyreke penetration and using active hands to disrupt passing angles. This is just another example of the impact Ron can have for this team as he’s asked to guard the other teams best perimeter player – even when he’s a point guard. I’m genuinely excited to see how Phil deploys Ron on defense in the playoffs.
*Speaking of the playoffs, it’s nice to see that our big guys are picking up their games as we head to the post season. In the past two games, Bynum has gone for 40 points and 26 rebounds and Pau has had 54 and 21. I’ve contended a lot in the past two seasons that Pau and Bynum have often gotten their numbers at the expense of each other. I’ve just had trouble recalling where both players had really good games in the same contest. Well, in the past two games that’s been exactly what’s happened. If this is a trend that can continue with their chemistry and ability to play together only getting better, the league will truly be in trouble. By the way, a big key to this recent success is Pau reestablishing his mid-range jumper. Last night he hit at least two more of those shots. When he’s knocking that down, the spacing on the interior is that much better and since Pau is one of our better passers the angles for him to distribute the ball are plentiful.
*And with our big men on my mind, please go check out the interview that Mike Trudell had with DJ “Congo Cash” Mbenga over at Lakers.com. They touched on lots of interesting topics including his nickname, his “clean” fashion sense, and who’s a more difficult cover – Bynum or Gasol (which I won’t give away).
*Very recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about Kobe shooting too much and what works best for our offense. These were concerns expressed again last night as Kobe took 26 shots while Pau & Bynum combined for only 28. So you know, I see both sides of this. There are times that Kobe is taking too many shots and it’s detrimental to the team and there are times where his shot taking and making is essential to our chances in a game. For me, nothing is concrete and it truly is a game to game thing that needs to be felt out based off what is going on in that particular contest. However, a side point to all of this is from the prologue epilogue of Bill Simmon’s “The Book of Basketball“. In that final chapter, Simmons visits Bill Walton and the discussion of winning and doing it “your way” comes up. They talk about Kobe and how #24 wants to win his way. And, for the most part I agree with that sentiment. Kobe is a dominant player with a dominant personality and he’s a guy that imposes his will on the game. That leads to him having a distinct style of play that he tries to win with. Well, guess what, so does every other superstar, past and present. Magic and Bird wanted to win their way too. So did Jordan. The difference is that fans liked their “way” and don’t always agree with Kobe’s “way”, often labeling it as something negative. The fact is, as long as it’s successful, it doesn’t matter. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Kobe may frustrate us all sometimes, but he’s pretty damned good at skinning the cat.
*You know who else is pretty good? That Lebron James guy. And so you know, Roland Lazenby has another post up at Laker Noise about Lebron and the Lakers. This is the second time Lazenby has covered this topic and while it all sounds plausible, I’m not sure that this could ever really happen (it is called a pipe dream, after all). It’s a very interesting read though, so go check it out.
*Lastly, have you joined the FB&G tourney pick ’em pool yet? What are you waiting for? First games are tomorrow morning and we can all see our brackets get busted together.
Kobe’s biggest strength is also his biggest weakness – his unrelenting will that can manifest into his stubbornness to do it his way. I don’t have any problem Kobe shooting a lot of shots. How would he score 81 if he doesn’t? What I have problem with is that he often thinks that he can shoot himself out of bad shooting night. It’s not as if we NEED him to score every night for us to win like we did 3-4 years ago. We have other options now. Sure there are other nights when we need him to carry the team on his back. But by and large, scoring is rarely a problem for this team when we go inside to our twin towers.
I know that Kobe is the best scorer and shooter, and I’d rather have him shoot than any other player in this league at any time. However, basketball is a team game and when other players don’t get involved in the offense, they’ll be disinterested in the defense also. It’s just a way game of basketball works, especially for the bigs.
I think Kobe should shoot within the context of the offense rather than trying to dominate it too much. Use the shot clock and let the game come to him. So often, I see him trying to take over the game from the start and not have enough at the end. He has improved in this regard. I just wish that he would continue to “make his teammates better” as Magic did and Lebron does.
To me, the most encouraging thing about last night’s game was Sasha’s play. This team is absolutely DYING for an outside threat, and if Sasha can heat up, this team is vastly improved. He handles the ball well enough that if he remains “within himself” (i.e. – not trying to do too much), he can be a useful option at PG.
It might just be my perception, but I think Sasha worked on squaring up better on his shots. He seemed to be getting into a nasty habit of leaning on his shots after coming off of screens, but last night, he seemed to be totally squared to the rim, which helped him maintain his quick release without being rushed. I hope he can keep it up.
Craig W. says
It’s pretty obvious that we can criticize the person we are with much more heavily than that ‘beauty’ across the street.
Kobe is ours and we smell the bad breath and farts in the morning, along with the gorgeous outfits in the evening. We only see Lebron in the evening and many of us have only seen pictures of Magic. My guess is that the youngsters in 20 yrs will be much more accommodating of Kobe’s shortcomings.
Maybe we should take more time to talk to our cousins – the Clipper fans – before we sound off so loudly about our own.
alex v. says
I think it’s great to see how hard Sasha seems to be trying when a lot of players might have given up when they got pushed out of the rotation early in the season. I still wish he could be a little less frenetic on defense (especially in the backcourt); I think all that motion makes it too easy for refs to call reach-in fouls.
Alex V. — I completely agree with you about how hard Sasha tries…it’s admirable that he still gives maximum effort despite year-long shooting droughts, being benched, AND his recent injury. I think he consciously knows that his method of playing defense will get fouls called on him–I think he thinks it’s worth it to get a couple questionable calls so that he can be a pesky defender. I would agree with him.
Puddle–I also get really encouraged when Sasha has a good shooting game. We should wait for this to become a trend, though. He shot pretty well for the Sacto game but it is a very small sample size (3/4, 0/1 on 3’s). Being a useful option at PG would be particularly helpful, considering how Brown and Farmar have been playing recently..
On some occasions your pretty wife (Kobe) can look ugly compared to Meagan Fox (Lebron James). Sometimes you can’t be the most beautiful girl in the world and if you are it won’t last forever. Kobe was the best player on the planet for in my opinion 8 years straight. I don’t feel badly for Laker fans or Kobe because he is still after all the 2nd fairest lady in all the land. And that aint too shabby.
Your wife farts?
I thought women were physically incapable of doing that…I need to sit down.
My whole world has just been rocked.
does any team does the “shot tap tap layup” better than the lakers LO AB and Pau?
that thing is a killer
Im not trying to be a downer on the current 4 game win streak, but to be convinced that our big man are truly going to lead LA to the chip. The dominate performances have to come against teams that have the size to contend, or at least contest, with our height.
The last four teams LA beat up on, is compared to a teenager beating up on kindergardner. It was something that was suppose to happen. Now lets see what they do on the next road trip, when they are pushed a little harder and the teams have a little more talent on their roster. The next 8 out 10 games LA plays will be against teams in the playoffs or are fighting to get in.
I think Kobe is only a step or two away from being the type of player that makes his teammates better. It actually starts with him possibly scoring more points than he does, by taking the open shots the triple post offense provides for him. Too many times, he passes up open looks, only to create a more difficult shot for himself with a phenomal move or two. We do need that unpredictable angle sometimes to keep defenses off-balance, but most of the time, we just need him to take or create high percentage shots — less “imposing of the will” and more “going with the flow…”
Effort has never been Sasha’s problem. From the day he stepped into the league, he’s tried to get better, it just hasn’t worked out for him other than in a contract year.
I still maintain that if he’s completely healthy and all the parts are in order, the Machine is still the best shooter on the team. It’s just a matter of making the repairs. Unfortunately for us, it seems like his brain/psyche needs to be fixed just as much as his body does. At least he’s on the right team for that, if I trust anyone in the league to fix him, I trust Phil.
Still time for him to put 10 games or so together and go into the playoffs hot. Ariza wasn’t making shots until the playoffs last year either.
I’ve been of the belief that Bynum just needed more game experience. He just hasn’t played that many games in his life, miniscule compared to all his teammates. Yet he continues to show steady growth.
in the last few games he’s made a concentrated effort to look for his teammates instead of just his shot everytime when receiving it on the post. He’s also looked for Pau. He’s not always successful but if you rewind, you can see that pause and head looking.
I hope he can maintain the learning cur ve along with the focus all game long. Unfortunately games are running out and not many more chances to face a physical nasty matchup so he can learn.
in that respect coming back early last year against Howard might help. I’m still unhappy how he shrank against Shaq earlier in the year. But he showed growth later going up against Perkins and Howard after the Cle losses.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
just wanted to add that i agree that sasha has shown much better confidence in his shot and i think the injury to jordy is really giving him an opportunity to show he is able to play 8 to 10 mins of consistent basketball.
i have to say though Andrew Bynum has been a beast lately. he is the one guy on the team that has the ability to improve during the season and he is doing just that. he is rebounding much better, going after offensive rebounds and not worrying about freak injuries that are a part of the game. he has commanded a double team and shown people that he is no longer the “black hole” and he has been able to pass out of the double team for open jump shots (even tho many aren’t being knocked down). i really like his progression and I’m very excited to watch him for years to come.
forgot to mention – i know this may have been said before. but my personal opinion is the lakers have not played to their potential all year long for whatever reason. but they are still in 1st place and that is amazing. imagine if they suddenly click and get it all together..even if they didn’t i still believe they will be in the finals fighting for back to back championships.
If Bynum learns to play without getting too many fouls early and plays defense with the intensity, I don’t see why Hodges’ assessment of him is too farfetched.
Start Sasha! Start Sasha!
Finally, what was begun so long ago shall now come to fruition! *fingers crossed*
my biggest worry with kobe is how does he react to getting older and and his declining abilities, im not sure he’s ever gonna accept he’s not the best player on the team, if not the league, the history of superstars turning into effective role players later in their careers is not great
Every superstar wants to win their way. Unluckily for Kobe, he isn’t oozing with charisma(Magic, Shaq), he doesn’t get the “fighting against white men can’t jump” card nor did he get the benefit of playing in a generation that starved of flashy players(Jordan). Jordan’s attittude wasn’t much different from Kobe’s but are people gonna bash the single really bright star of a dark post Magic-Bird era? Obviously not. Big men are underappreciated by a lot of people and his era was abundant with them
However, it’s easy to bash Kobe when you have charismatic people like Iverson and Shaq, an impressive dunker in Carter, someone who smiles a lot like T-mac. As for the Lebron vs Kobe arguement, I’d still choose a healthy Kobe over a healthy Lebron. Kobe was a beast early this season, but got hampered by a bunch of injuries.
I agree that Kobe is just one step away from being a very very lethal team player that makes teams incredibly difficult to beat.
Right now, he is very lethal and his presence alone makes us difficult to beat, but he is able to take another step.
Now that step would probably be against his being, and thus incredibly difficult and probably impossible until circumstances force him to, but it’s worth daydreaming.
He could be saving tons of mileage by picking his spots more, or if Gasol becomes a bit more deserving, he could be channeling his defensive focus each game, playing Bruce Bowen like for 3 quarters and then becoming the Mamba for the fourth.
I mean, with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and Artest, I think Kobe *could* become Bowen-like, or even Trevor Ariza like for 3 quarters and we’ll still be in a position at the end of the 3rd where we won’t need the Mamba-mode in the 4th.
Not to mention that even when imitating Bowen, he’d still be an incredible threat to score and impossible to leave alone…
Yeah Zephid, I agree whole heartingly, start Sasha at Point Guard and see what happens, doesn’t Fisher get straight up all alone shots available to him very frequently? The Machine, circa 07-08, would make the Lakers deadly, imagine if he were hitting over 40% from out here, he could easily become our #1 scorer before the season’s end.
If Kobe did play the part of facilitator/decoy. The lakers would be unbeatable. As long as he took his looks within the offense, no team would see it coming.
Phillip has a new morning links post up.
“I know that Kobe is the best scorer and shooter”
But he’s not the best shooter. Not even on his own team. He has the greatest arsenal of shots, but that doesn’t make him the best shooter.
John Morris says
I didn’t know that a Vujacic-Bandwagon existed. It sounds like that are many Laker fans that are pulling for him to get more minutes in wake of his recent proformances. I even think I just read something about him starting here also.
Personally I’d rather see the rotation stay as is for the playoffs. I don’t mind him getting 5-10 minutes a game but no more. I really don’t think he’s a very good defender. He looks like he’s trying hard but he makes dumb fouls and still can’t stop any dribble penetration. Plus, I still can’t get that image out of my head from 2 years ago in the finals when Paul Pierce dribbled right past him to cap off a huge run the C’s put on the Lakeshow. He’s supposed to be a shooter and I don’t think he’s shot well for 2 full seasons now. I wish we would have paid Turiaf. Everyone always thinks the Lakers need a 3-point specialist but They’ve won 4 titles in the past decade without one.
As for the rest of the team; I think Lamar and Ronald Artest are playing very well in the past few W’s also. Their numbers don’t stand out but they are doing exactly what the team needs them to do. I’m not yet sold on the bigs’ improved performance because their past 3 wins have been over teams with weak frontcourts.
All of what was written sounds negative but I really think that in a week or two the Lakeshow is going to get rolling and the rest of the league will be worried. They haven’t showed barely any intensity all season and you know they will eventually when they start smelling playoffs.
New post is up.