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Layups: Henry Abbott Sets the Record Straight on Kobe in Crunch Time

Posted by Neil Paine on January 28, 2011

A must-read: TrueHoop's Henry Abbott tries to dig through all the mythmaking and find the truth about Kobe Bryant in crunch time.

The truth about Kobe Bryant in crunch time - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN

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66 Responses to “Layups: Henry Abbott Sets the Record Straight on Kobe in Crunch Time”

  1. kevin Says:

    "I understand that for some people, like Kevin (whom I'm familiar with), it's not enough to say that the Celtics are better team than the Lakers this year, or that Boston's defense did a terrific job of breaking the triangle."

    Well, that's nice but I didn't comment or opine on any of those things. I restricted my comment to Bryant. This has nothing to do with the Celtics. Or the Spurs and heat, for that matter. It has to do with Kobe, and his penchant of insisting on being a one man band from time to time. And how that "screws up the offense", in Phil's words.

    Could you please stick to what I did say instead of putting words in my mouth and commenting on that? Or instead of projecting what you imagine I might say, comment on what I actually did say and the point I actually made rather than the one you propose in your own mind what I might be making instead?

    So I'll ask again. Everyone is focusing on the 41 points but nobody has focused on the no-show in every other facet. Do you think Kobe played a good game of basketball yesterday? I mean, he scored more points than Pierce, and many more than Allen. Do you think he played a better game of basketball than Pierce and Allen, for example?

  2. huevonkiller Says:

    #48 Well seeing as he was focusing on their entire careers probably, he's still right.

    The main purpose of Abbots article, was also to mention that going by whatever barometer, Kobe's not the best clutch player. That's the main point and all that matters.

  3. Anon Says:

    Kevin, how are you going to have issue with Kobe during a run in the fourth quarter when he played 48 minutes of great basketball offensively? He kept his team in the game with his output, when he and his team yielded a billion points on the other end.

    Nitpicking at its finest.

  4. huevonkiller Says:

    That said, Kobe is more complete than Kevin martin and he's most likely a better player to have in virtually any situation. So I can't concur with Abbot on that point.

  5. Anon Says:

    "#48 is the type of blind "analysis" that Abbott engaged in his his column. What is the context of plays in the discussion? Who is being asked to do what, and how much? When you start ignoring situational factors, you end up making stupid arguments like "Kevin Martin is more clutch than Lebron James" or "Kobe Bryant is the reason the Lakers can't win (two championships aside)."

    I think what this shows more than anything else is that alot of players are capable of making a GW shot whether it's assisted or not. Sure, I'm all for giving the ball to my best playmaker to create a shot, but the "myth of the MJ legend" (that people still subscribe to today) leads people to think that stars HAVE to take that shot no matter what - if you don't, you're a wuss. It's not exactly sound strategy and makes your team predictable offensively.

    Draw up a play, put the ball in the hands of your playmakers, and whoever is open should shoot it.

  6. kevin Says:

    "Kevin, how are you going to have issue with Kobe during a run in the fourth quarter when he played 48 minutes of great basketball offensively? He kept his team in the game with his output, when he and his team yielded a billion points on the other end."

    First, he didn't play great offensive basketball. He had zero assists for the entire game. And I don't see those two separate observations as unrelated, the volume shooting ont he part of Kobe and the bad team defense. Kobe seemingly spent all his energy on the offense end and the Boston 1/2/3 positions all went off. No blocks, no steals, 3 rebounds and 5 personals for Kobe?

    We'll never know what the outcome would have been if Kobe had involved his teammates instead of taking all the shots himself. I didn't see the game because I was driving but listened to the last 8 minutes or so on the radio and it was hard to tell if anyone besides Kobe touched the ball. Kobe did make some shots but here's what happened on all the Laker possessions the last five minutes until the game was over:

    04:41 Bryant Jump Shot: Missed
    04:09 Bryant Pullup Bank shot: Missed
    03:48 [LAL 89-98] Bryant Jump Shot: Made (39 PTS)
    03:20 Bryant Jump Shot: Missed
    02:55 Bryant Foul : Offensive Charge (5 PF)
    02:55 Bryant Turnover : Foul (2 TO)
    02:25 [LAL 91-103] Bryant Jump Shot: Made (41 PTS)
    01:58 Blake Rebound (Off:0 Def:3)
    01:46 Bryant Jump Shot: Missed
    01:44 Gasol Rebound (Off:4 Def:3)
    01:44 Gasol Tip Shot: Missed

    At that point, the game was over. They were losing by 14 with a minute and half left. The Lakers failed to stop the Celtics on almost every possession down the stretch. So, between 5:20, when the Lakers were down 4, to 1:29, when they were down 14, Kobe shot the ball 6 times, making 2, committed one turnover, an offensive foul, and really did nothing else to help his team.

    As I said, I was listening on the radio and all I heard was the name Bryant when the Lakers had the ball. I knew they would lose if Kobe took all the shots. Kobe is not a one-man team.

    After the game, Freddie Coleman was basically saying the same thing on ESPN radio. Kobe is too old to take over games now. He can't expend that much energy on the offensive end without having to pay the price at the other end. He's not Ray Allen, where he runs off picks and spots up. All his offense he starts himself off the dribble. He could save his energy by passing to a teammate once in a while but he seems reluctant to do that. And it has unfportunate consequences for the Lakers. The team looks somewhat dysfunctional right now. They fell apart down the stretch yesterday and lost to lowly Sac-town at home the night before. They aren't going to get out of this funk until they start sharing the ball more. And Kobe is at the heart of that problem.

  7. Jason J Says:

    My take on why Carmelo ranked so high on this list, and I had the same impression when I first saw on 82games a few years ago that he was the top of the heap, is that his game doesn't change in crunch time. He always takes the same shots. Maybe from deeper, but basically he's in the same iso set.

    Kobe (and most other players) change from their normal movement and attack games to iso jumpshooter mode (particularly obvious of James who isn't that type of player for most of the game). It takes the team out of its game and gives the advantage to the defense. Not so with Melo since George Karl's team game is basically a series of isos anyway.

  8. Baseballhead Says:

    We'll never know what the outcome would have been if Kobe had involved his teammates instead of taking all the shots himself.

    That's false; we DO know because that's what happened for a 9 minute stretch in the 3rd quarter: nothing. The Lakers struggled to get their shot off against a stifling defense, their passing lanes were closed, and they couldn't find their way inside. Van Gundy and Jackson on the TV-cast pointed out over and over that the Laker bigs were being beaten down court both ways.

    Moreover, from the 5:03 mark:
    5:03 Kevin Garnett makes 18-foot two point shot (Paul Pierce assists)
    4:28 Glen Davis makes layup (plus one free throw)
    4:03 Kevin Garnett makes 2-foot two point shot (Rajon Rondo assists)
    3:11 Ray Allen makes 24-foot three point jumper (Rajon Rondo assists)
    2:41 Ray Allen makes 18-foot two point shot (Rajon Rondo assists)

    5-for-5 shooting while Bryant went cold, and Boston was after shooting 56% up to that point. Where's the defense? Is that Bryant's fault that his big guys were getting beat? Because we saw in Game 7 of the Finals that the other Lakers are perfectly capable of playing Championship-caliber defense even when Bryant's ice cold. Gasol missed a grip of open jumpers. Artest was 1-10, Fisher went 1-6, and both guys got killed in their match-ups. The Lakers were out-rebounded 43-30. Their opponent shot over 60% from the field. There's plenty of people to blame... and of course Kevin wants to blame the guy who scored 41 points on 29 shots. Maybe if someone hits a open jumper, Bryant gets a few assists. Context. Game situations. Stop ignoring them.

    A previous commenter was right, there ARE guys who's agenda in threads is to pump up Kobe Bryant. And then there are others — like Kevin — who's agenda in threads is to try and bury him. The fact that the Lakers have won two titles and been in three straight Finals running this exact offense should have put this type of criticism to bed, but I guess you can't ask fans of opposing teams to be rational about this stuff.

  9. Jason J Says:

    @ #5 - Didn't Mike have an Air Jordan commercial in his last season where he told us how many times he'd missed a last second shot? The message was that failures can lead to success.

    I can think of 3 missed game winners and missed assist (if there is such a thing) for MJ.

    1) In the series against Cleveland in the game prior to the shot, MJ had a chance to put Chicago up or tie it (can't remember anymore) with two free throws and missed them both. If he hits them, either there's no game 5 or there's an overtime and maybe no game 5.

    2) Game 1 against the Lakers in 1991 Finals he crossed up the defense and got a clean look at a 17 footer that rimmed out.

    3) 1998 ECFs after Reggie hit the "shove Jordan in the chest with two hands after getting a running start and then get behind the line" game winning 3, Jordan had a chance to answer and had a rimout on a long sideways release from behind the arc.

    The assist came in a Pacers game I happened to be at in 1998 while Pippen was still on the IR. MJ dragged the Chicago within 2 or 3 (can't recall) and in the closing seconds drew a double and hit Kukoc for a wide open elbow extended 3 pointer. No good.

  10. kevin Says:

    "Is that Bryant's fault that his big guys were getting beat?"

    It was Kobe's man who made 2 of those 5 baskets. He was probably so tired from driving one-on-one he had nothing left for defense. C'mon, 3 rebounds? No steals? No blocks?

    Of course the Lakers played bad defense. And Kobe was right there, playing as bad defense as anyone.

    "A previous commenter was right, there ARE guys who's agenda in threads is to pump up Kobe Bryant."

    Yup. And it looks like you're one of them. And I came neither to bury nor to praise Kobe. I'm merely pointing out what Phil Jackson himself pointed out a few weeks ago- Kobe has a tendency to go off and play the game by himself. The last two games are both illustrations of that. Freddie Coleman pointed out something on ESPN last night- in games where Kobe has taken at least 405 of the Lakers FG attempts, they are 3-7.

    I will concede you one point. The Lakers bigs played like they were disheartened. I think there's some dissention going on, between the coach and the team and between some of the teammates themselves. But I think Kobe has a part to do with that too. Nobody wants to hustle to get open if he isn't going to have the ball passed to him. And the lack of movement tends to carry over on defense. Passing the ball has merits other than if it directly leads to a basket.

  11. Baseballhead Says:

    It was Kobe's man who made 2 of those 5 baskets. He was probably so tired from driving one-on-one he had nothing left for defense.

    That's what help defense is for. Then again, the normal rules of basketball don't seem to apply to Kobe Bryant, at least not from a Celtic perspective. Neil's comments on the game more than cover the bases.

    Your a Boston fan who hate the Lakers, and you hate Kobe Bryant in particular; you've made that very clear over the years. Don't pretend you don't have an agenda — you've insisted for years on the other site, and now on here, that the Lakers can't win with Kobe Bryant being Kobe Bryant. For all the sturm und drang over the selfish, destructive, poisonous Kobe Bryant and his ball-hogging, non-clutch ways, he's the MVP of two straight championship teams and been to three straight Finals — and after all that, you're still peddling the same exact arguments you were peddling last year, and the year before last. If he's the problem with the Lakers, every team should have that problem.

  12. Baseballhead Says:

    And now I realize I've dragged dirty laundry from elsewhere into here. Apologies, folks. I'm away from the thread.

  13. KevinG Says:

    And you're a LA fan who loves the Lakers and loves Kobe in particular.

    So I guess that makes us even.

  14. KevinG Says:

    "Kobe Bryant and his ball-hogging, non-clutch ways, he's the MVP of two straight championship teams and been to three straight Finals"

    Kobe won the MVP awards for the same reason Derek Jeter won Gold Glove awards.

  15. huevonkiller Says:

    Well I don't like the Lakers and I don't think Kobe proved anything the last two years, but you're getting a little carried away. If you're ignorantly going to blame Kobe when he loses, do you also ignorantly credit him when he wins? Use your own logic Kevin. Btw KG is probably a lot more obnoxious.

    The Lakers need to defend better, I doubt Kobe was horrible enough on defense to offset the Lakers very successful offensive rating against Boston.

    Maybe if Phil Jackson would stop ignorantly using Fisher and his terrible defense? He's not good anymore...

    As for being successful in crunch time, most superstars seem to have great success according to 82games.com

    Overall this crunchtime discussion is nonsense. Just take the guy that's the better player, and if he rests enough in the fourth, he's probably a great "crunch time" player. Not like you should be saving someone for just the fourth quarter either.

  16. Cort Says:

    i bet larry bird's crunch-time shooting pct. is higher than anyone on the list. end of game free throws should also be included somehow in the analysis...