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“Too Much Kobe”? Try “Not Enough Defense”

Posted by Neil Paine on January 31, 2011

Just a brief rant about the media reaction to yesterday's Celtics win over LA...

After the game, especially on the SportsCenter coverage last night, I saw "Too Much Kobe" being held up as an explanation for the Lakers' struggles. Here's a sample:

"Bryant took 29 of the Lakers' 66 field goal attempts (43.9 percent) while he was on the floor. This was the 10th game this season that Bryant took more than 40 percent of the Lakers' shots while on the court. In those 10 games, the Lakers are 3-7. Los Angeles is much better when Bryant shoots a smaller percent of the team's shots while on the court. The Lakers are 23-5 when Bryant takes less than 35 percent of the team's shots when on the floor."

That's a familiar media theme when Kobe scores a ton of points but his team loses; we saw it a lot in 2006, for instance.

As far as I can tell, "Too Much Kobe" is exclusively an offensive criticism. Trouble is, L.A.'s offense was fine yesterday. Against the 3rd-best defense in the league, against whom an average team would expect to score about 104 pts/100 poss. at home, the Lakers scored 110.1. The offense is not why L.A. lost, and therefore "Too Much Kobe" can't be why they lost.

They lost because they allowed the 11th-best offense in the NBA to score a staggering 125.0 points per 100 possessions against them on the road. This may or may not be Kobe's fault -- aside from personal fouls, he wasn't overly active on D, and despite his scoring feats the Lakers were -9 when he was on the court.

But it can't possibly be because Kobe had zero assists.

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143 Responses to ““Too Much Kobe”? Try “Not Enough Defense””

  1. Walter Says:

    I agree 100%. The offense was fine. The Lakers lost because they didn't guard Pierce at all (I am looking at you Artest), and then gave up way too many offensive rebounds (Bynum, Gasol, and Odom), and finally they did a horrible job at staying with shooters on baseline screens (Blake and Brown especially).

    One stat you won't hear in the media is: "Lakers are 27-10 when Kobe has fewer than 7 assists this season, but 6-5 when he has 7 or more... perhaps he should stop passing the ball."

    The fact is, the Lakers offense has actually been pretty consistent this season. They haven't lost many games on that side of the ball. They have however lost quite a few game where they simply didn't defend well.

  2. AYC Says:

    Come on, Neil. Whether he likes it or not, Kobe is the primary playmaker on the Lakers, as well as the primary scorer; Zero assists (and just 10 for the team) is terrible considering how much he dominated the ball. Kobe did exactly what the Celts wanted him to do; he kept shooting, and never got his teammates involved. Kobe happened to shoot the ball well, but you can't win games playing 1 on 5. And he shot the ball much better in the first half, shooting 8-11. In the second half, he was 8-18; not a terrible %, but not great either.

  3. AYC Says:

    PS the reason for LA's struggles that nobody talks about is the replacement of Ariza with Artest. Ariza's superior athleticism and spot-up shooting is sorely missed. I did a little dance when they let him go....

  4. Anon Says:

    124 points/100 possesions on 40% usage. Isn't this what you want from your star player, especially when other players DON'T want to take charge on offense?

    That Lakers defense is ugly though. Kobe/Artest wasn't exactly locking down Allen or Pierce on D, and Gasol/Bynum was bullied by The Bully.

  5. Boss Says:

    I agree. Kobe's offense was fine.

    What should really worry people is the decline in play of Gasol and Artest. Neither has showed up for the past two games.

    By now, Kobe knows what he needs to do to get the team moving offensively. He's been averaging a relatively high amount of assists because of it. But when Gasol starts to falter like he has lately, Kobe has no choice. He's going to do what he does best. Shoot the ball.

    Defensively, the Lakers are a mess. I think they'll be able to figure it out as they've shown flashes this season but it's not looking good.

  6. Anon Says:

    AYC, rhe problem with that thinking though is that the ball often went through the Lakers offense ONLY to find it's way back to Kobe for the shot (save for some iso plays). He was shooting well - might as well keep shooting it especially if no one else wants to step up (and I ain't a Kobe apologist).

    It's just amazing how people neglect the fact that basketball is played on both ends of the floor. They would rather put this on Kobe's domination of the ball instead of the Boston Big Three + Rondo having their way with LA's defense.

  7. AYC Says:

    What was his pt/poss for the second half alone?

  8. Walter Says:

    And with regards to +/-... the numbers don't tell the story of that game very well. For instance, the only Laker to finish with a positive +/- was Artest (+9) but he arguably had the worst game (1-10 FG on offense and Pierce killed him on defense). The ONLY reason it shows a positive is that he didn't play the final 5 minutes of the game.

    With 5:20 left in the game the Lakers were down 91-87... over the final 5:20 Boston would outscore LA 18-9! Boston would score on 8 of their final ten possessions with an offensive rating of 180!!

    During that final run Kevin Garnett scored 6, Glen Davis scored 5, Ray Allen scored 5, and Rajon Rondo scored 2. The only Celtic that did not score was Paul Pierce (who Kobe guarded during the strecth).

  9. P Middy Says:

    The defense was not good. The Celtics shooting numbers were ridiculously good. But there's no doubt in my mind that Kobe shot the Lakers out of the game in the 4th. Celts won because they expertly, and consistently found the open guy, or the mismatch on defense. Had the Lakers been that cohesive on offense, it would've been a closer 4th quarter.

  10. robinred Says:

    Thanks, Mr. Paine.

    Phil Jackson said that he dind don't think anyone else really "wanted the ball."
    Lamar Odom said that the Lakers really "didn't give (Kobe) a choice"

    People who are obsessed with Kobe forget that there are four other Lakers and one other team on the court. What I saw was Boston using its size and length to disrupt cutters and screeners and shrink passing lanes. That left Kobe with space to work on Allen, and he did, but Boston shut everyone else down, executed superbly, and was the better team.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall Wade, James or Jordan ever being accused of undermining the team defense by taking over the game. If people actually think this is going on, it would be easy to study. Break down/isolate "takeover" games and look at W-L records and DRTG.

  11. robinred Says:

    Ariza's superior athleticism and spot-up shooting is sorely missed. I did a little dance when they let him go....

    ___

    Were you dancing after Game 7 last June as well?

  12. Walter Says:

    @ AYC

    You do realize that in order to get Assists it requires the other players to make the shot right?

    This season Kobe is averaging just under 5 assists per game. 80% of those assists have been from the two most effecient places on the court (right at the rim and the 3-pt line). Yesterday the Lakers not named Kobe made only one three-point attempt. Kobe had numerous kick-outs to other spot up shooters (Artest in particular) who couldn't make a shot. As for lay-ups, the Celtics typically kept all 5 guys near the paint and didn't allow the Lakers to establish anything inside. Without the outside jumpers falling their was no need bor Boston to extend its defense. With the defense packed in there were simply no lanes to cut through to get easy baskets.

    As for the Ariza comment... you're kidding right? His best year as a spot-up 3P shooter was last year at only 33.4% He got hot during one playoff run (40-84 47.8%) but has been sub-par both before and after. Artest has been a much better 3P shooter for LA than Ariza has been.

  13. King Kong Says:

    I thought the biggest problem was bad defense in the 4th quarter down the stretch

    remember, the Lakers were leading 54-50 at the half, and it was still a close game at the end of the third with 77-72 Celtics

    At 5:18 left, it's 97-87 Celtics. Celtics call time out, the Lakers give up easy layups and it's 98-87 and after that it was basically over, because the Lakers couldn't get more stops

    so really, I think people are taking this game way out of proportion. The Celtics are one of the best teams in the East, and the score doesn't reflect how close the game was

  14. King Kong Says:

    @ 13

    oops, 91 - 87 at 5:18 left

  15. AYC Says:

    Do you honestly think the 2010 Lakers (or this year's team) was as good as the 2009 team? Do you realize that Artest has shot under 40% from the field in the postseason every single year of his career since his rookie year (when he shot .407)? Lakers fans are so silly; when guys like Shaq and Ariza leave your team, you try to minimize their former value. They crow about Kobe's "5 rings", while ignoring the fact that Shaq carried Kobe to those first 3 titles. Ariza gives them all-star caliber production during their 2009 run, and they get amnesia when he leaves. Go on, keep pretending Artest was an upgrade if it makes you happy.

  16. King Kong Says:

    Sorry to triple post, but people saying things like "defensively they are a mess" is crazy.

    The Celtics are a really, really good team, and the Lakers played poor defense on some key possessions (maybe because of the bigs, maybe because Artest wasnt there, maybe because the Celtics drew up great plays and moved the ball well), but this idea that losing to the Celtics means your team is a mess is crazy

    Remember, just that week the Lakers beat the Thunder, Nuggets and destroyed Utah before that weird loss to the Kings (although the Kings also beat the Hornets back2back so hey)

  17. Thomas Says:

    Neil, have you seen/have an opinion on Kobe's statistical and adjusted plus/minus this year. He was a solid star positive last year and is an abominable anti-star (-20 in adj) this year. It seems as though his defense has completely left him. I wonder if he may be nothing more than a glorified Monta Ellis anymore. But, cmon, this is Kobe, right?

  18. Anon Says:

    #17 His D hasn't been "lockdown". Average DWS numbers and +6 with the +/- splits defensively.

  19. Rob Says:

    I found that last part particularly interesting.

    Using Game Finder, I found that the Lakers are 47-21 in regular season games where Kobe has 10+ assists.

  20. Dave Says:

    #19 Rob,

    Assist totals are misleading because you can only have good numbers when your teammates are getting open and making shots. Anyways I looked at your point from the other direction.

    Over the last 3 seasons when Kobe has 3 or less assists the Lakers are 41-25 (.621)

    and are 7-4 (.636) when he has 10 or more.

    I'm guessing that's not a statistically significant difference

  21. robinred Says:

    AYC,

    I opposed the Artest/Ariza switch openly on two blogs when it was made. I am a UCLA grad and love Ariza. But Artest was brought in, basically, to do what he did: bother star wings in post-season. Hr was very successful in doing that against both Durant and Pierce last spring, and there is no way the Lakers would have won Game 7 without him. Would they have won the title with Ariza? No one knows. We do know they did win it with Artest. Ariza, OTOH, could not handle higher USG in Houston and while he has been OK in NO, is not a special player. His hot shooting run in the 2009 post-season was an anomaly.

    The Lakers are slower overall without Ariza, but their Team D was outstanding last year and delivered when it had to. And the team declined for a number of reasons--age, mostly. It was not just about the switch at the 3.

    As with the whole roster except for Odom and Bynum, Artest's contract is about two years too long. But he did what he was paid to do. And this year's post-season hasn't started yet.

  22. robinred Says:

    Also, AYC, ratchet down the genealizations about Laker fans. If you want to do that, there are plenty of fanboy blogs around for you.

  23. AYC Says:

    Hmmm... the Lakers are older and less athletic, but that doesn't have anything to do with replacing Ariza with Artest?? Anyway, your comment about "not knowing" whether they would've won last year with Ariza is a perfect example of the amnesia I'm talking about; the Lakers won 65 games and the title the previous year with Ariza! And his production during that run was far superior to any postseason Artest has EVER had. So winning a title with Artest hardly proves anything. Here's what I know; Ariza is much more athletic, younger, able to hit hit open 3's, finish in transition, and defend point guards. Is Artest better in any of those areas?

  24. Baseballhead Says:

    Hmmm... the Lakers are older and less athletic, but that doesn't have anything to do with replacing Ariza with Artest??

    It might have something to do with Bryant, Gasol, Odom, and Fisher being two years older than they were in 2009, with a lot more mileage on their wheels.

    And thought I also thought the Ariza/Artest swap wasn't good for the Lakers long term, so what? We don't know if the Lakers would have won last season with Ariza, but we kNOW they won a second consecutive championship with Artest. Worth it.

  25. javier Says:

    That's exactly what Boston was looking for , bryant shooting all
    over the place the same way like 04-05,05-06 and 06-07 remember 81 points
    but LA was blown-out of the playoffs with a younger bryant ;
    Boston has shooters as good as bryant but if one of them is taking over
    (shooting) they will be benched , remember Wilt ?? 100 points and that
    same year Boston took care of Wilt and LA in the finals;
    Bottom line, IT IS A TEAM SPORT ! and when LA plays team ball not bryant
    ball not Wilt ball LA has a much better chance to win and nobody understands
    that better , then the Bston Celtics , ask Bill Russell (11 rings) the best
    "Team-player" of our era.

  26. javier Says:

    Better yet, when bryant scores the same or less then
    his teammates LA can win any game with any team ,
    remember game 7 last year ? bryant 16 points, artest 18 points
    Gasol 17 points and 19 boards, Odom 15 points and Fisher 11 points
    that looks to me, Team-ball won that game.

  27. AYC Says:

    Nothing funnier than LA fans trying to talk themselves into liking Artest. He was "good enough" seems to be the best argument they can come up with.

  28. javier Says:

    The problem with Miami right now is chemistry
    and if they can solve that puzzle (asap) and
    play "TEAM_BALL" they will be right up-there and
    maybe they solve the puzzle on how to beat Boston and
    then some, coming playoff time and for the West it looks
    right now that San Antonio has one more hurrah left in the
    tank and for sure this is another team that plays "Team
    Ball" to the max.

  29. KevinG Says:

    "But it can't possibly be because Kobe had zero assists."

    Then how about the 0 blocks, 0 steals, 3 rebounds, 5 personals, Neil?

  30. KevinG Says:

    "But Artest was brought in, basically, to do what he did: bother star wings in post-season. Hr was very successful in doing that against both Durant and Pierce last spring, and there is no way the Lakers would have won Game 7 without him."

    Now that you've brought it up, what do you make of Artest this year, Robin? I agree he did a good job at guarding the opposing 3's, but this year he seems to have taken a serious step backward. Too old? Sulking? Playing hurt? Wha?

  31. Greyberger Says:

    Ariza only played in 106 regular season games and 31 playoff games for LA. Since then his efficiency and offensive rebounding have fallen off a cliff. In Houston he was especially bad for taking so many possessions and not getting many points out of 'em. I think the Lakers sold their Ariza stock at about the right time.

  32. robinred Says:

    @30

    Well, yesterday your man Pierce wanted to send a message, and he did. Pierce took it to Artest on both ends. Credit to him. Overall:

    1. As I said in pre-season, the Lakers have a ton of mileage, Artest included. His ability to finish, always poor, is worse. His vertical is about like mine. His lateral is a little off as well.
    2. Last year, he really wanted to fit in and worked to stay focused and dealt well with the drop-off in usage. This year, he may be having a harder time with those issues.
    3. He lacks confidence on offense, so he doesn't play with flow--clutches on jumpers, thinks instead of playing.

  33. Baseballhead Says:

    Better yet, when bryant scores the same or less then his teammates LA can win any game with any team, remember game 7 last year ? bryant 16 points, artest 18 points, Gasol 17 points and 19 boards, Odom 15 points and Fisher 11 points. that looks to me, Team-ball won that game.

    This requires that many people on the team contribute. Gasol wasn't effective, and Fisher and Artest were a combined 2-16 — how are you supposed to play "team ball" when three of the starters can't throw a ball in the ocean? You can't, and no individual performance by another player was going to make Fisher or Artest make shots for them.

    Yet you're always going to have people insist that the problem wasn't that Gasol and Odom got outplayed by their match-ups, or that Fisher and Artest couldn't hit shots. They're always going to insist that it's always Kobe Bryant's fault. These same people were also the ones who are mysteriously absent in thread discussions after the last game of the last two seasons.

  34. Baseballhead Says:

    Bah, mis-tag.

  35. Neil Paine Says:

    #29 - Yep, those are all numbers which were more pertinent to the Lakers' problems yesterday than 0 assists.

    Don't get me wrong, the point of this post wasn't to absolve Kobe Bryant of responsibility for yesterday's loss. It was merely to show that whatever blame there is needs to be directed at L.A.'s players defensively (Bryant certainly included).

    To try to pin this loss on the Laker offense, specifically Bryant for a lack of assists, when the offense actually performed well and the defense was flat-out atrocious, is just asinine.

  36. robinred Says:

    AYC,

    Aside from your asinine 'tude, your points have been refuted by three different people now. Also, trust me on this--Lakers fans are not in love with Ron-Ron. A few people are calling for him to be traded. The Kamenetzkys called him the #1 problem with the team. But again:

    1. The team D was very good last year. Part of that was Ron-Ron.
    2. The Lakers made the switch with an eye towards post-season--and Artest delivered when the money was on the table. It is not about Lakers fans "talking ourselves" into anything. It is about the banner that is hanging up in Staples. And the way things look now, they ain't getting another one this year, so as BaseballHead said: Worth it.
    3. Many Laker fans still love Trevor;I have heard people musing about trying to get him back if NO has a fire sale. But he has not developed into an All-Star after leaving LA.

  37. Jason J Says:

    Neil - Somebody I read today (possibly Wilbon?) was saying that part of the problem with LA's defense was too many forced deep jumpers and turnovers leading to transition opportunities for Boston (hence Rondo's 15 second half assists). Not sure I agree with it, but that's the only was I can see tying Kobe's tough shot forcing ways to the poor defense.

  38. Knick with the Knack Says:

    Zero assists (and just 10 for the team) is terrible considering how much he dominated the ball.

    Who cares? Once you know how many points the team scored, why does it matter how many assists they had? I don't care if my team never gets an assist all season if they score 150 points a game. Teams that get more AST/FG may be more efficient (I don't know), and it may bode better for the future. But if you accept the argument that LA had a good offensive game, the assist argument is moot.

  39. Baseballhead Says:

    Once you know how many points the team scored, why does it matter how many assists they had?

    It matters because Kevin wants to establish the argument that Kobe Bryant is selfish, and that it's his selfishness that lost the game for the Lakers. From his comments in this thread and the clutch shooting thread, it's easy to deduce that Kevin really doesn't care about the other Lakers except now they might relate to Bryant. It's very important to Kevin that Bryant be proclaimed a deeply flawed player, which is why he's been stuck on the 0 assists number all day.

    Kevin's been pushing, almost word for word, the exact arguments he's making today for years on another site. As Neil pointed out, these arguments are asinine.

  40. anon x 2 Says:

    it's hard to get assists when the kickouts to ron and artest are a combined 2/17 (or was it 16?). And Gasol missed 1-2 open jumpers off Kobe's passes.

    Someone has to hit the shots to get assists.

    Anyway, the game was already explained. The issue was defense, and in particular, Artest's defense on Pierce. The Lakers' D is built around Artest making Pierce inefficient and not getting lots of opportunities, which allows Kobe to defend Rondo in his "two feet back" approach which denies penetration from Rondo and allows Kobe to "semi-roam" on defense in help situations.

    Unfortunately, once Ron stunk it up on both sides . of the ball, he had to be pulled. The result was putting Kobe on Pierce, who did a decent job as usual, but allowed Rondo to run free. Blake cannot guard him.

    If Rondo isn't guarded by Kobe and Pierce by Artest (successfully), everything falls apart in the matchups. This is where Barnes is missed because Luke cannot handle any of that responsibility while Barnes has a fighting chance.

    On a sidenote, I'm a Lakers fan who liked the Ariza-Artest swap. For one, I knew Ariza's hot shooting was a fluke and it's turned out to be true. For another, we needed Artest to defend the bigger 3s like Pierce, Lebron, and Durant. I am very certain that we do not defeat Boston with Ariza in Artest's place. Pierce was pretty terrible outside 1 game in that series and Ariza's offensive contributions would not have off-set that. I don't even know if they get by OKC. No way Durant shoots that poorly against Ariza.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved Ariza and didn't want him to leave. But it was the right move and it saved the title defense. Artest is playing worse this year, but the more pressing issues are that:

    A. Gasol has slowed down considerably from the start of the season.
    B. Steve Blake is not getting more of Fisher's minutes.
    C. The team over the past 2 years was one of the best 3 point defenses (if not the best) in the league. They've dropped off since then and really, they've had some really bad games in that department (they seem to run hot n' cold). Giving up 2 more ppg this year from 3 on a higher percentage.

  41. AYC Says:

    #36, what points of mine have been "refuted", exactly? As for my so-called attitude, I responded to being ripped by overly sensitive LA fans for saying something that should be uncontroversial: Ariza was better in LA than Artest. Is Ariza the second coming of Pippen? No. But he's better than Ron-Ron. You jumped all over me for saying this, but now according to you, many Laker fans agree with me. You make a big deal about picking up Artest for the postseason, but the implication that Ron somehow put them over the top is silly. That requires you to continue ignoring the fact that they won it all the year before with Ariza.

    And Artest isn't any worse offensively this year than he was last year; his Ortg is actually higher this year....

  42. robinred Says:

    #36, what points of mine have been "refuted", exactly?

    ___

    The points about Ariza's shooting and performance. Posts 12 and 31.

    But he's better than Ron-Ron. You jumped all over me for saying this, but now according to you, many Laker fans agree with me.

    ___

    Wrong again. And I am not sure Ariza is better than Artest. Also, the fact people are mad at Artest doesn't mean they think he is worse than Ariza. Since you are just here to push an agenda and hassle Laker fans, you assumed that LA fans want to trade Artest for Ariza. That really isn't it. People are concerned by the team and casting around/complaining, including, as of today, Mitch Kupchak.
    ___

    but the implication that Ron somehow put them over the top is silly. That requires you to continue ignoring the fact that they won it all the year before with Ariza.

    __

    0-for-3. Artest made a huge difference against OKC and against Boston, particularly in Game 7. Artest's ability to body up Pierce was huge. Would they have won with Ariza? Maybe. You don't know, and I don't know. Also, the 2009 run and the 2010 runs were different. Different matchups, different needs. During the Denver series, the Lakers switched Bryant and used Walton on Anthony because Ariza couldn't body him up. When Artest was acquired, the Lakers specifically said they were getting him to match up with star wings.

  43. robinred Says:

    CA Clark of Silver Screen and Roll on Laker assists against Boston:
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Bryant took only three shots in the 1st quarter of yesterday's game, due to early foul trouble. Since Bryant wasn't dominating the ball even when he was playing, you would assume the Lakers offense would be more engaged. Nope. The Lakers only had two assists the entire 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter, in which Bryant did aggressively look for his own shot, the Lakers had 5 assists, and 4 of them occurred while Bryant was on the court. Bryant had 17 shots in the 2nd half, but only three in the first nine minutes of the 3rd quarter. It was only after Boston had turned a 6 point half time deficit into a 5 point lead that Bryant began attempting to will his team to victory by launching 14 shots in the final 15 minutes of action. And in that nine minute period in which Kobe took only three shots to start the 2nd half, there was ... 1 assist. In over half the game in which Bryant was either absent, or not aggressively seeking his own opportunities, the team as whole had 4 assists. In the other half, in which Bryant had the ball in his hands a majority of the time and was actively seeking his shot, the Lakers had 6 assists.
    ________________________________________________________________

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2011/1/31/1966040/kobe-bryant-didnt-kill-the-triangle-the-triangle-was-already-dead#storyjump

  44. robinred Says:

    Here's what I know; Ariza is much more athletic, younger, able to hit hit open 3's, finish in transition, and defend point guards. Is Artest better in any of those areas?
    ___
    Artest 3P%: .384
    Ariza 3P%: .293

    Looking at overall stat profile--PER, WS etc.they are about even:

    WS/PER

    ARIZA 2.8/11.2
    ARTEST 2.5/11.3

    Ariza is better in transition. Artest is better at on-ball D against big wings (except yesterday). Both get some steals. Ariza gets more RBs but that is partly system/personnel.

    They are basically even, and Artest, last year, did what he was brought in to do and came through in one of the biggest games in the histiory of the franchise.

  45. anon x 2 Says:

    and people are forgetting that the Lakers have Matt Barnes (when healthy) to fill the transition/cutting role in the offense when we need it.

    I'd much rather have Artest + Barnes than just Ariza. Pick the matchup and run with it. Offense is struggling and there's no Pierce/Durant guy, use Barnes.

  46. Rob Says:

    #21, Dave

    I agree with you. To suggest there's a direct correlation between Kobe's assist totals and the Lakers record is silly. At the time I saw my post as a semi-interesting jumping off point.. I'm not sure what I wanted to do with that, though. haha Good call.

  47. storyofgreats Says:

    Come on,I don't know who created this ultra meaningless +- but come on now create something more meaningful.

  48. ELJ Says:

    I don't understand why Pau complains about not getting the ball enough in the post, when he's just so friggin passive most of the time.

  49. KevinG Says:

    "It matters because Kevin wants to establish the argument that Kobe Bryant is selfish"

    I didn't "push" that argument. However, I did concur with that argument that was pushed by people in the NBA, including his own coach.

    I know you are a hypersensitive Laker fan, as AYC dryly notes, but Kobe is not the second coming, you know. He has his flaws. Jackson himself admitted he doesn't like coaching him because of his "me first" tendencies. If you want a good comp for Kobe, it's not Jordan. It's Rick Barry. Barry had a ton of talent too but had personality issues as well.

  50. KevinG Says:

    "To try to pin this loss on the Laker offense, specifically Bryant for a lack of assists, when the offense actually performed well and the defense was flat-out atrocious, is just asinine."

    I didn't see the game, Neil. Did Boston double on Bryant at all, or just let him get his and settle for shutting everyone else down?

  51. KevinG Says:

    "I'd much rather have Artest + Barnes than just Ariza. Pick the matchup and run with it. Offense is struggling and there's no Pierce/Durant guy, use Barnes."

    This seems like a non sequitor to me. How does having Ariza prevent the Lakers from picking up Barnes?

    And isn't Barnes out for the year? I don't think the Lakers can count on him helping much. Not this year anyway.

  52. Piper at the Gates Says:

    I saw their last two losses and it was very clear in the Kings game that Kobe's first quarter seemed to throw the rest of the team completely out of rythym. Whether it was Kobe's, the other four on court, or the coaching staff's fault (or of course all three) doesn't matter. The result was terminal.
    The Lakers were keeping it close early in the game v the Celtics. Then for some reason the whole thing tumbled retro-domino from O to D. To me it was pretty clear how the balance was upset. The surprising part was the weak display of resistance in the closing minutes on the defensive end - Allowing Boston to drop 8/9 FG's in the last 5 minutes.

  53. javier Says:

    If bryant is soo goood what happened with him
    on 04-05,05-06 and 06-07 ?????? the same year that
    he scored 81 points but LA was blown-out the (missing one)
    playoffs and he was taking more shoots then now and younger ???
    One more time , IT IS A TEAM-SPORT but bryant wants to SHINE ,
    anyways do you think that Ray Allen in any given night can outshoot
    anybody including bryant ?????did anybody get it ???ssshhhhhtttt

  54. huevonkiller Says:

    Kevin honestly, I don't like LA but you're spewing some stupid trash talk.

    Rick Barry? Lol no we're at basketball-reference to weed out that kind of nonsense. Rick Barry had 29 PER, in the ABA not NBA. He was never that level of player Kobe is. Learn your metrics if you're going try to debate anyone.

  55. robinred Says:

    And isn't Barnes out for the year?
    ___
    No.

    Replacing Ariza with Artest was not some genius move. I would probably rather have the next three years or Ariza than the next three of Artest. But Artest was brought in to fill a speicfic function, and when he had to, he filled it to near-perfection, and the Lakers got another parade--by beating Boston. 99% of Laker fans will see that as worth the exchange, even if Artest totally implodes.

    And again, Ariza has not developed--he has regressed.

  56. robinred Says:

    @ 50

    IMO, Boston decided to try to shut down the bigs and Ron-Ron, figuring if Kobe got 40, they could win anyway if Gasol, Artest and Fisher didn't hurt them and they did OK on the glass. They focused on the passing lanes and the paint, and on using size and length to disrupt cutters/screeners. Everybody TRIES to do that. Boston actually CAN. CA Clark's breakdown in #43 tells the story.

    The truly bizarre--and revealing--thing about Abbott's stuff, and about Rob Mahoney's hatchet job at the NYT that Abbott linked and others--is that these guys, as BaseballHead suggests, IGNORE THE CELTICS. Here we have a great team, a legendary defensive team, at full strength, possibly making their last run this year, in a statement game against their rivals--their return to the scene of the crime, so to speak. They win in style, shooting 60% from the floor, and executing on both ends.

    And what do Abbott, Mahoney, and the other Haters talk about? Kobe Bryant's shot selection. Not Garnett ouyplaying Gasol, not Pierce dominating Artest, not the Boston gameplan, not Kendrick Perkins' presence in the paint. Kobe Bryant. And that's what Laker fans, reasonable ones anyway, are tired of.

  57. huevonkiller Says:

    How many reasonable Laker fans are there? So forgive me if I don't really care.

    However it is true that your defense just wasn't good enough. It is a really simple thing, no matter how they got their offense going, it should not have impacted their D.

  58. robinred Says:

    How many reasonable Laker fans are there?

    __

    About as many as there are wiseass guys like you and Haters.

  59. robinred Says:

    And forgive me if I don't worry so much about guys like you and kevin whining about Kobe/MJ/LeBron articles. After all, how many reasonable MSM guys are there?

  60. mytoast Says:

    ariza or artest? both won u championship what can u ask for? get real and get over it. Everybody changes team nowadays, and every team change a few men every year now.

    KB shooting too much? nobody is hitting anything, whose number u are going to call?

    Laker have a bad 4th qtr, boston have a prefect qtr. Laker has one guy on fire, and boston have 4 guys on fire. I can see BOS doing the same def in the final and limit KB to some extent, but i can't see all the other laker suck so much for a whole series.

  61. kevin Says:

    "Learn your metrics if you're going try to debate anyone."

    OK. How about this:

    The ABA never, and NBA not until 1974, didn't record blocks and steals. And turnovers weren't recorded in the NBA until 1978, so comparing players from the '70's and '00's based on metrics like PER is idiotic.

    OK?

  62. kevin Says:

    "And forgive me if I don't worry so much about guys like you and kevin whining about Kobe/MJ/LeBron articles. After all, how many reasonable MSM guys are there?"

    Me??? I'm agreeing with Mahoney and Abbott!! You're the one that's whining!

    Plus, I don't think you're right that Boston is at full strength. West and J O'Neal are both out with injuries and both Shaq and Perkins are coming off them. They still have some room to improve.

  63. robinred Says:

    Sure, kev. You are the one who brought Jordan comps into this--again.

    Basically, there is a type of HaterBoy--you, Abbott, Simmons and Mahoney are all examples--who won't let it go even if Lakers fans say:

    Kobe is not as good as Jordan or James.
    He shoots too much sometimes.

    My issue with it is not that random Celtic Fanboys do this stuff on the internet. That's OK; it is just the flip side of the LakerBoyzz who post stuff like "24>>>>23!!! H8RZ!"

    What bugs me is that we have guys on national media outlets are doing slipshod analysis about the Lakers as a team based on wanting to vent about Kobe Bryant.

    I certainly don't expect people to care about that, but it is tiresome. Even Mr. Paine said that he thought it was "asinine" in this particular case.

  64. AYC Says:

    #44, I thought LA picked up Artest for the postseason? You know, when he shot .398 from the field and .291 from 3? When he had a dismal TS% of .477? As I pointed out earlier, that terrible inefficiency is normal for Artest, who has shot under 40% in the postseason 5 straight years, and under .480 TS% for the last 4 playoffs. Should we make a big deal about him hitting one 3 in game 7, when the Celtics' were begging him to shoot?

    Ariza shot .497 from the field and .476 from three in the 09 playoffs; his TS% was .610. He also defended elite guards, as well as forwards, something Ron-Ron can't do. And he's 5 years younger....

  65. Greyberger Says:

    Sure but Ariza played 3 1/2 seasons before and 2 seasons since his time in LA. Do we throw that out the window and only look at his 106 regular season Lakers games and the one championship postseason?

    Ariza looked great in '09. In the regular season he had a league average efficiency, which is great for him. In the playoffs he shot even better, didn't try to do too much and played good defense. I thought the Lakers were crazy for letting him walk.

    But since then Ariza has totally fallen apart and is a shadow of the player he was in LA. His offensive rebounding - gone. His efficiency - in the tank. Good decision making and teamwork and defense? Shot to hell by his apparent need to prove himself on offense when everybody else in the arena is screaming, "don't do it!".

    Houston wanted no part of that and New Orleans is probably regretting the acquisition too. Artest has mental problems and teamwork problems, but I think they're actually less damaging to the team than Ariza's. I don't know how Lakers fans can want that kid back.

  66. Greyberger Says:

    To put it another way - you don't think there's a reason he's been on 5 teams in 7 years?

  67. kevin Says:

    "Sure, kev. You are the one who brought Jordan comps into this--again."

    I did? Funny. The first mention of Jordan I can find in this thread is in #10. By you.

    I'm not interested in comparing Kobe to Jordan. I am, however, interested in bursting the bubble of Laker fanboys like yourself and preventing you from anointing him as "the new Jordan. He's not the new Jordan.

    You made that comp. Not me.

  68. robinred Says:

    I have said probably 100 times that I know Kobe is not as good as Jordan, James, Bird or Magic, or many other guys. You know this. You are, I assume, trolling.

    #10 just says that if people want to study this claim that scorers taking over undermines team D--Jordan, Wade, James, Bryant, or Iverson or Anthony or anyone else you want to add, without reference to how good they are relative to each other--they can do that.

    Meanwhile, here you are in 49:

    If you want a good comp for Kobe, it's not Jordan. It's Rick Barry. Barry had a ton of talent too but had personality issues as well.

    ___

    Note which post has the word "comp" in it. Yours.

  69. robinred Says:

    Should we make a big deal about him hitting one 3 in game 7, when the Celtics' were begging him to shoot?

    ----

    Yes. For Laker fans, org people, and players, yes. As I have explained several times now.

    And I notice you ignore the substance of the reason they got Artest: to match up with big wings in the post-season. And you ignored the substance of the post where I acknowledge that statistically, they are more or less even, and that I would probably rather have three years of Ariza than three years of Artest.

    Like I said, you are just a guy with an agenda. Greyberger has shown how misguided you are three different times now with specific facts, which you have also ignored. Maybe you are the guy from Detroit that Artest punched in the face or something.

    And kevin, I will talk ball with you anytime. But I am done talking about Kobe Bryant with you. Your last post ended that for good. You deliberately misrepresented me. End of exchange.

  70. robinred Says:

    I don't know how Lakers fans can want that kid back.

    ___

    He is a UCLA guy with a nice personality and sad backstory. He helped the team win a title. We love him.

    Also, I think many people in LakerLand are getting tired of the Derek Fisher experience and would like to pair up Kobe with a younger, bigger guy. A young Ron Harper instead of using Fisher and a guy like Blake. (NOTE: I KNOW THAT JORDAN WAS BETTER THAN BRYANT. I AM ONLY TALKING ABOUT THEIR FUNCTIONS ON THE TEAM IN MENTIONING HARPER).

  71. kevin Says:

    Maybe you didn't use the word "comp" but that's exactly what you were doing in #10, wondering why Kobe is scrutinized the way Jordan, Wade etc never are. That's a clear reference to comparability.

    And I wasn't referencing you specifically when I made that Barry reference. Kobe is compared to Jordan all the time by the MSM so the comment was made in that context. I wasn't calling you out.

  72. Baseballhead Says:

    If you want a good comp for Kobe, it's not Jordan. It's Rick Barry. Barry had a ton of talent too but had personality issues as well.

    Also, fits in nicely with Kevin's life theme of "Kobe Bryant is evil." See, folks, Bryant has "personality issues". That's why the Lakers lost to the Celtics. Personality issues. If you focus on the game, on the performances of his teammates or that of the other team, you'll miss the reason out on what, according to Kevin, the NBA is all about: Kobe Bryant's "personality issues."

    I know you are a hypersensitive Laker fan, as AYC dryly notes, but Kobe is not the second coming, you know. He has his flaws.

    And anyone who's read my comments on the BTF thread will know that I've criticized Bryant and the Lakers perhaps more harshly than anyone else there when they warrant criticism. Also, I actually watched the game, so I'm not just making stuff up when I talk about what happened in it, as opposed to people who didn't watch the game at all but still use it as an excuse to push the same arguments they've been pushing for many, many years.

  73. kevin Says:

    "Also, fits in nicely with Kevin's life theme of "Kobe Bryant is evil." See, folks, Bryant has "personality issues"."

    He doesn't? Forcing anal intercourse on a near stranger is Ok with you?

  74. Greyberger Says:

    Hey-O! If I resisted the urge to make that reference through 72 comments, you should too #73.

  75. kevin Says:

    OK. That was a little cruel.

    I don't have any overt hatred of Kobe. But I'm a bb purist and I do agree with those who think he takes to many bad shots and doesn't find the open man often enough. The clip Mahoney provided showed several possessions where Blake and Brown and Fisher were wide open at the 3-point line, frantically waving for the ball, without even being considered. it could be that Kobe just has poor court vision and doesn't want to risk a turnover. but whether it's intentional or a simple lack of ability, that's a problem for him and the Lakers.

    Personally, I think it's mostly intentional. I think he likes to ring the bell. I've seen games where he doesn't do his one man band thing and fins the open man. And when he does that, the Laker offense really hums and they transition smoothly back on defense.

  76. huevonkiller Says:

    And yet Kevin, you're the genius bringing up Barry's name. Maybe you should take your own advice? Obviously it was a stupid comparison and it is your burden to prove it. I can mock you for it.

  77. AYC Says:

    "Should we make a big deal about him hitting one 3 in game 7, when the Celtics' were begging him to shoot?

    ----

    Yes. For Laker fans, org people, and players, yes. As I have explained several times now."

    Well there you have it; Artest just knows how to win! Ariza couldn't have hit that shot; he's not a winner! He wasn't the 3rd best LA player during the 09 championship run, and he isn't a super-athletic 6'8" forward who defends big wings just fine, along with being able to defend PG's!

    Why is it so hard to admit that LA let go of Ariza because they didn't want to pay him? You admitted earlier that you didn't think Artest for Ariza was a good move at the time; now it's because Artest supposedly defends "big wings" better? You don't see me pretending Tony Allen was better than James Posey, do you? I give up....

  78. AYC Says:

    #76, why is it an outrage to compare Kobe to Rick Barry? Are you saying Barry wasn't a dominant player?? And isn't that beside the point? The whole point of the comparison is that Kobe is a prick, just like Barry was. Are you denying Kobe is a prick?

  79. robinred Says:

    I give up.

    __

    You should. You don't understand my posts, you ignore the substance, and you have lost the argument three times now.

    Like I said, you are just a Boston fanboy with an agenda. Not up to real discussion.

  80. huevonkiller Says:

    #58

    I'm not really complaining, like you, I'm just stating a fact that most Laker fans are homers. Neil can attest to all the countless crap he gets from them.

  81. huevonkiller Says:

    #78

    Well I dislike Kobe, so I am not "outraged". Yeah I think it is a pretty bad comparison, because Barry was never that level at his peak. Adjusted for pace/era.

  82. Baseballhead Says:

    The whole point of the comparison is that Kobe is a prick, just like Barry was. Are you denying Kobe is a prick?

    So what if he is? Kevin's argument is, and has always been that (1) Bryant's a prick, and (2) that is the reason the Lakers lose games. (1) is only an issue for people who don't like the Lakers, but it's been pretty demonstrable that (2) is completely false. Seriously if the Lakers lose because Kobe's such a prick, why isn't his prickishness also the reason they win a bunch of games? There are 10 guys on the court; it's not all about Bryant all the time.

    Well there you have it; Artest just knows how to win! Ariza couldn't have hit that shot; he's not a winner!

    Artest DID know how to win right then, because he actually won. Whether or not that'll be true going forward is doubtful, but no one can deny that Artest DID play well when the Lakers needed it. Moreover, even the people defending Artest's play have said that they were opposed to letting Ariza go. I can still be against the Lakers letting Ariza go while still acknowledging that Artest was very good in 2010, can't I? I can still say that Ariza will probably be better going forward and still say that it all worked out for 2010, can't I? I don't understand why that's such a problem for people.

  83. Cloud King Says:

    Considering the Celtics had a better record and were a better team before Sunday's game, why is it such a surprise and upset that the Celtics won?

    This obsession with the Lakers and Kobe and figuring out exactly why they lose, when they've been in 7 finals in the last 12 years, is crazy. Sometimes the other team is just better and it's not fair to them to think of the result as Lakers losing rather than Celtics winning.

    Ask yourself this, if the Lakers managed to get some stops down the stretch and won the game, would anyone be saying "What's wrong with the Celtics? Why can't they beat the Lakers?"

  84. robinred Says:

    @ 80

    I hear you. I have given up on trying to convince some folks in the fanbase that Jordan and James were/are superior players. But I don't think me and BaseballHead are in that crowd and there are a lot of us out here in SoCal. All fanbases have all types, and the Kobe FanBoyz are no more irrational about the guy or more numerous on-line than the HaterBoyz are.

    And yeah, I am sure in some ways Kobe is a "prick." That subject is not of great interest to me, however.

  85. robinred Says:

    why is it such a surprise and upset that the Celtics won?

    __

    No one has said it was. Mahoney and Abbott just used the game to grind their Kobe axe.

  86. robinred Says:

    I don't understand why that's such a problem for people.

    ________

    It appears to be a problem only for AYC, not anyone else.

  87. kevin Says:

    "Yeah I think it is a pretty bad comparison, because Barry was never that level at his peak."

    How do you know? You ever see Barry play? You can't tell by the numbers because the numbers in Barry's day were pretty minimal.

    FWIW, Barry was 1st team All-NBA as a 21 year old rookie. Kobe didn't make 1st team until he was 23. Barry was 1st team All-League 9 of the 1st 10 years of professional ball. Barry averaged 35 a game as a 22 yr old. Kobe didn't do that until his peak year when he was 27. Barry led an otherwise nothing-special GS team to the title in '75. Kobe always had plenty of help.

    If you had ever seen Barry play, which I'm sure you never did, you would see the similarities. Barry passed a little more and was a 3 but otherwise the skillset is pretty similar.

  88. anon x 2 Says:

    AYC,

    Do you think the Lakers beat Boston with Ariza defending Pierce in the finals? Honestly.

  89. kevin Says:

    "Do you think the Lakers beat Boston with Ariza defending Pierce in the finals? Honestly."

    Last year? Maybe. Pierce was playing on a bum knee and was only about 80-90%.

  90. anon x 2 Says:

    See, I don't see it. I watched Ariza for some time now, but he gets eaten alive by big strong SFs. He's better at the weaker ones. I think he gets abused and finds himself in foul trouble.

    Would he be better on offense? no doubt. But not enough to compensate for what we lose on defense.

    I also think people forget how close the OKC series was where Durant shot horribly. If he shoots 45% in the series against Ariza, which I'm sure he approaches, Lakers are probably in deep trouble.

  91. kevin Says:

    If Robin comes back maybe he can speculate on what Kupchak meant when he said he was contemplating changes.

    I was thinking, would Denver consider a 2 for 1 swap- Kobe for Melo and Billups? That might work for both teams except I can't think of a more unfortunate place to trade Kobe than Denver.

  92. Baseballhead Says:

    I was thinking, would Denver consider a 2 for 1 swap- Kobe for Melo and Billups?

    How anyone can think that either team would consider this a reasonable trade is boggling. The Lakers are coming off two championships and three Finals, and they're 33-15 and the #2 seed in the West right now. Why would they blow everything up now to trade the face of the franchise and the guy who's the key to their championship runs? It doesn't make sense for the Lakers.

    And Denver, why would they want to rebuild with a 32-year-old with more minutes on his legs than any other player this century, and who's remaining contract obligations exceed $83 million for the next three seasons? Even if you add Bryant instead of Anthony, they're not contenders. It makes even less sense for the Nuggets.

  93. huevonkiller Says:

    #84 Alright man I'm cool with that. I understand what you're saying.

    #87

    Well that's why we're at "basketball-reference" isn't it? Not just to throw around random ideas.

    I'd say most metrics favor Kobe, and Neil puts him at the Magic Johnson tier or slightly better. I don't put Barry at that tier nor have I seen evidence, adjusted for pace and league average, that suggests I should do so.

  94. KevinG Says:

    They're not random ideas. They're facts. If you don't believe me, you can look it up on basketball-reference. Barry made 1st team All-NBA as a 21 year old rookie. Look it up. That has nothing to do with era. He was considered the best in the league at his position as a 21 year old rookie.

    If Neil's metrics put Kobe slightly above Magic, then there's something wrong with Neil's metrics. Most metrics overrate high volume scorer types like Kobe and underrate guys like Magic.

  95. huevonkiller Says:

    Oh Rick Barry, the guy with Allen Iverson shooting percentage in a pace-inflated era. Wow his 20.0 PER was REALLY impressive for an All-NBA player. LOL I think your argument is amusing. Pre-ABA merger in a where Barry has inferior numbers.

    You mean Kobe Bryant is underrated because he plays in a deeper, more athletic era and has a far higher peak than Barry.

  96. huevonkiller Says:

    *in a league where Barry has inferior numbers.

    Yeah looks like you don't have a clue about metrics.

  97. KevinG Says:

    Did you tell yourself you have no clue about metrics?

  98. huevonkiller Says:

    You messed up.

    Your guy is trash percentage wise so stop crying already.

  99. nimble Says:

    Nice to read the hatred!Fuel the fire!He has 27 5 5 already,be very jealous:)

  100. AYC Says:

    Hey, Laker fans, did you catch Legs on NBA Tonight last night?

  101. AYC Says:

    http://www.newsok.com/hornets-trevor-ariza-having-success-defending-thunders-kevin-durant/article/3537344?custom_click=lead_story_title

    "Only one player this season can lay claim to holding NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant scoreless in the fourth quarter. New Orleans forward Trevor Ariza. In the last meeting between the Thunder and the Hornets on Jan. 24, Ariza's defense helped keep Durant off the scoreboard in a closely-contested final period that featured three ties, two lead changes and neither team holding more than a six-point advantage. Durant went 0-for-5 in the quarter. He played 6 minutes, 58 seconds. Ariza played 6 minutes, 48 seconds. The Hornets won, 91-89, on a game-winner by David West. Remember those facts tonight. While the point guard battle between Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul serves as the sexiest matchup in the teams' fourth and final meeting this season, the more significant chess match will be between Durant and Ariza."

  102. robinred Says:

    Durant vs Lakers, 2010 playoffs

    G5 5/14 FG
    G6 5/23 FG (he did make 14 FTS)

    Pierce vs. Lakers, 2010 playoffs

    G6 6/14 FG
    G7 5/15 FG

    The Lakers won all 4. Artest of course scored 20 himself in Game 7.

    Ariza matches up well with Durant; they are both skinny. If NO plays OKC come post-season, we will see how it goes down. Pierce, Anthony, and James different than Durant, however. Artest has not done that well against James, which will be an issue if we actually get a Lakers/Heat Finals match-up.

    Like I said, the players are about even, and Artest did what he was brought in to do at the time he was brought in to do it. You can dismiss that if you want to, but it's pretty dumb to do so, particularly when no one is going RON-RON BABY!!!!! We are looking at both sides of it.

  103. robinred Says:

    Sweet! LeBron posts here.

  104. anon x 2 Says:

    Please tell me the Lebron James handle and comments about Kobe needing Pau and Odom are meant to be ironic.

    Oh god, please.

  105. Baseballhead Says:

    I'm sure Lebron didn't write or think that. It was something a friend of his said, and he's just passing it on.

  106. Anon Says:

    Can someone please explain to me how scoring the basketball somehow DOESN'T make you a team player? Isn't that the point of the game in the first place?

  107. kevin Says:

    "Can someone please explain to me how scoring the basketball somehow DOESN'T make you a team player? Isn't that the point of the game in the first place?"

    Traditionally, league scoring champs have not been on the winning team. It has to do with keeping everyone else involved. Players tend to stop moving on offense if they know they won't get the ball if they get open. And that tends to carry over on the defensive end. Help defense tends to be slow or not happen at all. Everything stagnates and becomes a struggle. And if one player shoots too much, it allows the other team to sit back on defense and save their energy reserves for offense. For instance, watch Rondo in those clips Mahoney provided. When Fisher ran to the weak side away from Kobe to set up, Rondo stayed put in the lane, ready to help out if Kobe tried to take it all the way. The usual thing to do would be to punish Rondo for not guarding Fisher and to pass the ball to a wide open Fisher for an unmolested 3 rather than settle for a contested 19 footer. Instead, Kobe missed the shot and Rondo got a nice little breather for himself not having to follow Fisher over to the weak side.

    I realize the Lakers were in a funk and Kobe was the only one hitting shots with any consistency but not passing to them is not going to help anyone's confidence. When Kobe takes so many shots, he's basically telling his teammates "You guys suck. I'm the only one who can put the ball in the hole on this team.".

    I did watch the game last night and Kobe did seem to make an effort to involve everyone more. he made a few nice passes for good shots so it's not like he can't do it. Odom and Gasol had solid games as a result.

  108. James Says:

    I want someone to explain how the guy who is on track to be the only 30 6 6 k in NBA history can be condensced into being simply a "selfish" non-team player. You don't get 6000 assists easily in the triangle, which is the only system he's ever run (Rudy don't count). Has Kobe had many, many games where he focused to much on scoring, yep. He also has at least as many where he cared as much about defense and facilitation. He's one of the greatest scorer's ever, thank god he shot a lot. He's better than you want him to be and not as good as you want him to be as that same time. Jordan was the same way, accept he was worshipped by everyone and never had true Haters like Abbot undermine his abilities and often the public's perceptions of his talent on a regular basis. Even Bill Simmons at some point realized he was in a losing battle. Kobe will be remembered as one of the greatest because frankly, he is. As a competitor, a teammate, and a winner.

  109. Neil Paine Says:

    I deleted the "LeBron" comment... Just FYI, it's a violation of our comment policies to impersonate a player.

  110. King Kong Says:

    If the reply is "maybe they can't win it this year, they don't have the intensity, they've lost to great teams", my answer is: so what?

    It's practically unheard of to go to the Finals 4 years in a row and a 3peat in a league with so many great teams and players is almost as difficult. There is no shame in losing to the Spurs in the WCF this year.

  111. robinred Says:

    Abbott posted a link to a curl play the Lakers ran to ice it. Bryant, BTW, said after the game he wants to play more off the ball and wants Gasol to be more aggressive. Here is what I posted at TrueHoop:

    It is a lot easier for Odom and Gasol to play against Chuck Hayes, Chase Budinger, and Luis Scola than against Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, and Glen Davis.

    I assume Abbott thinks (posting) this proves that he is

    a) Right
    b) Objective

    But, actually, it shows his biggest problem (and Mahoney's, and Simmons'): they think everything is about Kobe Bryant. This play worked in large part because of who the opponent was, the most undersized team in the NBA, that allows a lot of assisted buckets:

    DEFENSIVE RATING/OPPONENT ASSISTS (RANK)

    HOUSTON: 110.0 (24) 1045 (20)
    BOSTON: 100.1 (2) 892 (2)

    After Bryant caught the ball, the help guy was Chuck Hayes, a tough player--but the league's shortest 5.

    Don't get me wrong; the idea of less iso in crunch time has merit, and Kobe sometimes jacks up shots he shouldn't.

    But the next time Abbott and Mahoney watch a Lakers game, they should try watching the other nine guys on the floor occasionally.
    ___

    As to Kevin's description of the play:

    1. Rondo is on Blake, not Fisher, in every sequence on the Mahoney clip.
    2. In the play in question, I think, people watching should watch:
    a) Bynum (weakside, hands down, not looking for position)
    b) How Blake leisurely runs the baseline, clearing the mid-post and setting up weakside.
    c) How Garnett shades a possible cross-court passing lane, by dropping into the key after Kobe gets the ball.

    Fisher is at the arc, and Kobe could have given it to him, that part is right. Fisher is shooting .402 on 3s this year. But like I said, it is Pierce, not Rondo, on Fisher. Pierce gets hung up briefly on a Gasol screen, and one could argue that at that point, Kobe should have given Fisher the ball. But Fisher is spaced at an angle, about 30 feet from the basket,and keeps his hands down almost the whole time. Plus, Fisher has a slow release; Pierce might well have been able to get out there and distract him.
    3. Blake was in the corner, so Fisher if he had gotten the ball might have swung it to Blake, who is hitting .395 on 3s on the year. But like I said, Blake just jogs the baseline, gets there late. Rondo lets Blake go, IMO knowing who he plays with: he will have help.

    Kobe decides to put up a fallaway off a step back/pivot, which misses short.

    Next time down, they swing the ball back to Kobe after Fisher and Gasol touch it, he beats Allen, but Davis gets there in time enough to distract him and he shoots it to hard off the window. Again, watch Gasol and Bynum--neither makes any serious effort to get the ball or set up on the block, or mid-post.

    So, there is lot of stuff going on. Kobe is part of the problem. So are the other guys, and you also have to look at who the opponent is. Boston wants gys to play ISO, and they are good at making it happen.

  112. kevin Says:

    "I'm not sure why so many people want to criticize them and figure out what Kobe is doing wrong when they've been to 3 straight Finals and won back2back. What else are they supposed to do?"

    On NBA TV last night, Brent Barry and Dennis Scott, and then Tim Legler on ESPN, were basically reiterating what Mahoney indicated in his column- the Lakers offense is out of whack if Kobe takes that many shots. Barry mantioned Gasol getting good post position several times in the Celtics game but not ever getting a touch. These guys aren't writers. They aren't MSM. They are former NBA players who know what the score is.

  113. kevin Says:

    "But Fisher is spaced at an angle, about 30 feet from the basket,and keeps his hands down almost the whole time."

    Even if they were down, all Kobe had to do is throw it at his waist and Fisher would have been able to catch it easily. And Kobe could have led the pass so Fisher had forward momentum into the incipient shot. And even if Garnett (or Pierce) were able to jump out and contest it, Fisher could have swung the ball to blake, who was WIDE OPEN in the corner, since his man was standing in the middle of the key and would not have had time to recover. Or, if there was a radical shift by the defense to the weak side, then Fisher could have throw it right back to Kobe for an isolation on Allen.

    If you don't pass the ball, it's really hard to get the defense out of position. As every coach will tell you, the ball moves a lot faster and covers a lot more ground when you pass it than when you dribble it.

  114. kevin Says:

    Abbott has posted a Kobe quote in a JA Adande column:

    "Me going one-on-three, one-on-four at the end of games … I don't care how good you are, it's tough to do," Bryant said. "So [let Odom] be the playmaker, let me come off the ball. Now I catch it, the defense is not set, now I can make plays I can take a shot or make the defense collapse. I think that's much better."

    I don't know how to interpret this. Is Kobe saying he STILL wants to be the shooter, just off a pass rather than a dribble isolation? Or did he just phrase that unfortunately?

  115. robinred Says:

    @ 113

    You're exaggerating, (as you did yesterday when you said guys were "waving frantically for the ball"--no one does that on the whole clip) and again, you are ignoring the Boston D. By the time the ball swung all the way to the corner, they might have been able to close, (Garnett was over there) and by the time they swung it back, in your other scenario, you might have shot clock issues. Also, like I said, Blake ran the baseline very casually.

    Finally, there is the question of whether a 3 from Blake or Fisher is really the shot you want in that spot. My guess is Rivers would be OK with a 3 from Blake or Fisher as the Lakers' shot with Boston up 6 late. Fallaways look bad when they miss, but that is one of Kobe's shots. Should he have taken that particular one? Maybe not. But there were a lot of reasons he did.

    Basically, you are saying "move the ball" which I read on Laker blogs every game preview and which everybody knows. But many times against Boston last year, the paint would be packed and the Lakers would just swing the ball around the perimeter and get little or nothing for it. Boston is #2 (very close to #1) in defense for a reason.

  116. robinred Says:

    Now I catch it, the defense is not set, now I can make plays I can take a shot or make the defense collapse.

    ___

    I think he is saying that he wants to get the ball off curls--this is a big thing among the keyboard coaches in LakerLand (not that it's a bad idea) so he can pass or shoot.

  117. Baseballhead Says:

    It's a chicken-or-egg argument. Does the offense suffer because Kobe takes so many shots, or does Kobe take so many shots because the offense is suffering? When the other two perimeter shooters go 2-16, wouldn't you want your shooting guard to, you know, shoot his team out of a funk?

    Kobe Bryant is not Magic Johnson. He's not going to run around dishing like crazy to get his team into the game. Yet whenever the Laker lose, the criticism is always the same: Why isn't he someone other than who he is? Why can't he be Magic Johnson for three quarters, and then Jordan for the fourth, especially when he's never been anything except for who he is: He's a shooting guard and a volume scorer, and he's been extraordinarily successful at it. The bar for Bryant is ridiculously high and the expectations have never been realistic. That he's carved out a 1st tier Hall of Fame career while refusing to assume the roles that other people have set for him infuriates people like Kevin; that he can flaunt five rings while playing with such team-destroying selfishness makes him the absolute Devil.

    I did watch the game last night and Kobe did seem to make an effort to involve everyone more. he made a few nice passes for good shots so it's not like he can't do it. Odom and Gasol had solid games as a result.

    This all ignores the fact that the 22-27 Rockets took the Lakers to overtime. If Lowry or Brooks could hit the side of the barn last night, Bryant would have had 26-10-5 in a losing cause, and all the Kevins of the world would be trying to blame him for Scola eating Gasol's lunch in the last three minutes.

    It is a strange world. Everyone in Lakerland worries about every other Laker except Bryant, while the rest of the NBA doesn't seem to acknowledge that other Lakers besides Bryant even exist.

  118. King Kong Says:

    Well, it's pretty simple.

    If the Lakers lose and Kobe was shooting poorly, it's his fault.
    If the Lakers lose and Kobe was shooting well, it's his fault for not getting teammates involved.
    If the Lakers win and Kobe doesn't play great or other teammates play great, then they won because of Pau
    If the Lakers win and Kobe plays great, then it's because the team played great

  119. Anon Says:

    "It's a chicken-or-egg argument. Does the offense suffer because Kobe takes so many shots, or does Kobe take so many shots because the offense is suffering? When the other two perimeter shooters go 2-16, wouldn't you want your shooting guard to, you know, shoot his team out of a funk?"

    No, the NBA is the pee-wee basketball leagues, remember? Everyone gets an equal opportunity to shoot the ball no matter what - don't wanna bruise those egos now :)

  120. KevinG Says:

    "You're exaggerating, (as you did yesterday when you said guys were "waving frantically for the ball"--no one does that on the whole clip) and again, you are ignoring the Boston D."

    At 0:39, Fisher is crouched and has his hands up, expecting the ball that never came. And I'm not ignoring the defense. Look at how much room there is between the Laker wings and the defenders. There's probably 15 feet between Fisher and Blake and the nearest defender.

  121. KevinG Says:

    "Finally, there is the question of whether a 3 from Blake or Fisher is really the shot you want in that spot."

    Uhhh, yeahh. You're down 11 with 3:50 minutes left, of course a wide open 3 would help. Blake abd Fisher have the best %'s on the team. Who else would you want? A contested 3 from Kobe? And if you aren't going to get that out of F&B, what else do you expect to get out of them? That's what they're on the team for.

  122. Baseballhead Says:

    These guys aren't writers. They aren't MSM. They are former NBA players who know what the score is.

    So when former players were falling all over themselves proclaiming Kobe Bryant to be the best player in the NBA the last two years — and many of them still do — they must have been exactly right. And I know this because Kevin said that those guys know what the score is.

  123. robinred Says:

    @121

    Kobe was 3/5 on 3s in that game; the rest of the team was 1/4. Boston is #2 in the NBA in 3PA allowed. They want to make you beat them with long 2s, and they are good at it. But again, I expect Doc Rivers and Lawrence Frank would live with Fisher and Blake trying to stage a miracle rally on deep 3s.

    You are forgetting something else: Bryant draws a lot of fouls in crunch time. Twice it appeared he was trying/hoping to get calls in the Mahoney clip. On one, Allen played disciplined, stayed down, and forced a miss. It was Bryant's worst shot attempt of the sequence, but he was probably trying to get a call. Ref called it right. The second time, he beat Allen but the help guy--I think Davis--got there in time, and it was a charge. These are things the Celtics do.

    As to the argument that iso-ball leads to breakdowns on D--maybe it does. I would like to see a study. But even if it does, that is on the whole team and the coaches, not just on the guy taking over the game.

  124. robinred Says:

    Durant had 43 tonight against the Hornets, nine in the fourth, including 7 in a 57-second span that more or less decided the game. Ariza had 5 points, and was 2/9 from the floor.

  125. DJ Says:

    #107

    "Traditionally, league scoring champs have not been on the winning team."

    Except, of course, for when Michael Jordan was scoring champ. And when Kareem was scoring champ. And then there was that year that Shaq was scoring champ and won it all with the Lakers. And then there was the year Shaq was scoring champ and his Magic lost in the finals. And the year Iverson was champ and lost in the finals.

    Of the last 40 years, the top scorer also won the NBA ring in 9 years (Jordan 6 times, Abdul-Jabbar 2 times, and Shaq once). And in two years was runner up. So 25% of the time the scoring champ goes to the finals.

    Just looking at the numbers, I'd say that scoring champs go to the finals (and win) pretty darn frequently.

    If we're talking about the effect of a ball-hog scorer on a team, we might look at top-5 scorers to see if these top scorers aren't on winning teams.

    In 2010 the #4 scorer (Kobe) won the ring
    in 2009 the #3 scorer (Kobe) won
    2008: no top scorer (Boston); #2 scorer (Kobe) loses finals
    2007: no top scorer (Spurs); #4 scorer (James) loses finals
    2006: the #5 scorer (Wade) won
    2005: no top scorer (Spurs over Pistons)
    2004: no top scorer (Pistons); #4 scorer (Kobe) loses finals
    2003: no top scorer (Spurs over Nets)
    2002: the #2 scorer (Shaq) won
    2001: the #2 and #3 scorers (Shaq and Kobe) won, and the #1 scorer (Iverson) lost in the finals
    2000: the #1 scorer (Shaq) won
    1999: no top scorer (Spurs)
    1998: Jordan wins ring and scoring title; Malone, #3 scorer loses in finals
    1997: Jordan; Malone, #2 scorer, loses finals
    1996: Jordan
    1995: #2 scorer (Olajuwon) takes title; #1 scorer (Shaq) loses in finals.
    1994: #3 scorer (Olajuwon) take title
    1993: Jordan ring and title; #5 scorer (Barkley) loses finals
    1992: Jordan ring and title; #4 scorer (Drexler) loses in finals
    1991: Jordan ring and title
    1990: no top scorer in finals (Pistons over Blazers)
    1989: no top scorer (Pistons over Lakers)
    1988: no top scorer (Lakers over Pistons)
    1987: #4 scorer (Bird) loses in finals
    1986: #4 scorer (Bird) takes ring
    1985: #2 scorer (Bird) loses in finals
    1984: no top scorer (Celts over Lakers)
    1983: #5 scorer (Malone) takes ring.
    1982: #5 scorer (Erving) loses in finals
    1981: #2 scorer (Malone) loses in finals

    So, in the last 31 years, there have been 10 years when no top-5 scorer was in the finals,
    16 times the NBA champ had a top-5 scorer on the team, and 12 times a top-5 scorer was on the NBA runner-up.

    So, let's see: the scoring champ has won the NBA championship about 25% of the time (11 of the last 41). A top-5 scorer is on the champ over 50% of the time (16/31). A top-5 scorer has been on 28 of the last 62 conference champs.

    So does having one of those ballhogs really screw a team up? Or do those guys help a team win?

  126. DJ Says:

    ooops: "scoring champ has won the NBA championship about 25% of the time (9 of the last 41)."

  127. AYC Says:

    Kareem won 1 title as scoring champ, not 2. Shaq won 1 as scoring champ. MJ won 6, but that's why he is considered the GOAT. That's 3 players since the shotclock era began in 1955.

  128. robinred Says:

    127-

    That doesn't change the overall point, though, which is obvious: you almost always need a great scorer to win the title, and you need to have help around him. It is possible to win with a balanced offense, and no Top 10 in the league guys: 2008 Celtics, 1989-1990 Pistons, 2004 Pistons if:

    You have several excellent players.
    You have an elite defense.

    But building a team that way is hard. It is easier to land a superstar and build around him. The "landing a superstar" part generally involves a bit of luck, of course. The other team that has won recently without a Top-5 scorer, the Spurs, had a Top 5 player in Duncan.

  129. Anon Says:

    Team balance as it relates to championships has been discussed at length here:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6013

  130. kevin Says:

    He cherry-picked the endpoints too. If he included the 60's and 70's the picture would look quite different. And there can be a huge difference between the #1 and #5 scorer so I don't see how meaningful it is to include that in there.

  131. robinred Says:

    If he included the 60's and 70's the picture would look quite different.

    __

    Sure it would, because the Celtics had Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, (and Sam Jones and John Havlicek and Tom Heinsohn) and there were 8,9, 10, 12, or 14 teams in the NBA, depending on the year. So, yeah, if you have Russell or Duncan to anchor your D and some top-flight wings and/or points with him, or if you have Kevin Garnett to anchor your D, and Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo with him, yeah, then you can win without a super scorer.

  132. robinred Says:

    Ariza sprained his ankle and missed the second half of the OKC/NO game. Needs to be said in view of previous discussion. Did not know until today.

    OTOH, Durant had 21 in the first half, when Ariza, who played 21 minutes, was out there.

  133. DJ Says:

    #130

    Thing is, I wasn't trying to show that you need a top scorer to win. I was just trying to show that there's no "tradition" that top scorers don't win.

    Obviously Jordan skews things--but then isn't that actually the most relevant comp anyway? Who does Kobe get compared to most often? Jordan got knocked for the exact same "selfish play" crap.

    If you say there is a tradition that the #1 scorer only doesn't win, fine, but what do you mean by tradition? Do you mean that it is rare that the #1 scorer wins the championship? I wouldn't say that 1 in 3 is rare. But Jordan and Shaq account for 7 scoring champ/title combinations in the last 21 years. At that frequency rate, I think the onus is on you to show that there actually is some tradition that scoring champs don't win.

    If random chance selected the top scorer, and random chance selected the winning team, we'd expect each team to have a 1 in 30 chance of having the top scorer, and each team would have a 1 in 30 chance of winning the championship. And there would--by random chance--be a 1 in 30 chance that a team would have both the championship and the top scorer. (Am I doing my math right?--each team has a 1/30 * 1/30 chance of having both; there are 30 teams, so the chance that the league would get both on a team is 1/30.) Clearly it happens a lot more often than that.

    The data shows it clearly: top scorers do advance in the playoffs and win championships.
    You say just the #1 guy, but sometimes the difference between the #1 and #5 doesn't really matter--often they're just the same guys in a different order--Kobe, James, Wade, Shaq, Jordan, Olajuwon, Kareem, Bird--these guys are the top scorers in their leagues; they win scoring titles, and they keep showing up in the finals--maybe not in the same years, but they're the same players.

    And then there are the years that the loser in the finals had the top scorer, too--because we'd hardly say that a team that advances all the way to the finals didn't have a winning season.

    You say there's a tradition that top scorers don't win, well, let's see the data. Show me the tradition instead of just claiming that it exists.

  134. robinred Says:

    Not trying to be snarky, I think the "tradition", as I suggest in 131, is that teams with awesome players win the title--be it a Russell (who skews this argument the other way in the 1960s) or a Jordan.

  135. kevin Says:

    "Jordan got knocked for the exact same "selfish play" crap."

    Did he though? Maybe a little but not much. I think he got ripped a little for being too hard on his teammates but he never got accused of taking too many or bad shots.

  136. kevin Says:

    The other thing is that Jordan's FG%'s were always pretty good while Kobe's are just meh.

  137. Baseballhead Says:

    Did he though? Maybe a little but not much. I think he got ripped a little for being too hard on his teammates but he never got accused of taking too many or bad shots.

    The whole "selfish Jordan" meme was Conventional Wisdom up until 1991; up until then, he was always being compared unfavorably to Magic Johnson. (Sound familiar?) Winning a ring — and beating Magic's team to get it — put that to rest.

    The other thing is that Jordan's FG%'s were always pretty good while Kobe's are just meh.

    News flash! Michael Jordan better than another player! Celtic fan thinks _____ quality of Kobe Bryant is meh! Film at 11.

  138. Anon Says:

    "The whole "selfish Jordan" meme was Conventional Wisdom up until 1991; up until then, he was always being compared unfavorably to Magic Johnson. (Sound familiar?)"

    Yep. LeBron James comparisons to Kobe.

  139. DJ Says:

    Mikan won two titles as scoring champ.

    I wonder if the whole "selfish scorer" meme came out of the 60s, when Wilt would win the scoring title and the Celtics, with Russell and about six other HoFers would win the title. Every year. And people would say how selfish Wilt was and that was why they couldn't get past the Celts.

  140. Baseballhead Says:

    That's probably as good a place as any to look. I found a copy of a Playboy interview with Jordan from 1992, which references the whole "selfish" reputation:

    A collection of great Jordan moments would have to begin with the 1982 N.C.A.A. championship game, when his jump shot at the buzzer lifted the North Carolina Tar Heels to a one-point victory over the Georgetown Hoyas. Then came his stellar performance at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. And since being drafted by the Bulls after his junior year (he later went back to earn his degree), Jordan's career has been one long highlight film. Most fans will never forget the 1986 play-offs in which he utterly befuddled the Boston Celtics with 49- and 63-point games; or the 1986-87 season, when he led the league in scoring with 37.1 points per game, had more 50-point games than any other player except Wilt Chamberlain and became the second player in N.B.A. history--after Chamberlain--to score 3000 points in a season. In the process, he was transforming a franchise worth less than $20,000,000 in his rookie season into one with a current estimated worth of $150,000,000.

    That estimate, of course, factors in last season's drive to the championship, in which Jordan proved once and for all that, contrary to his image as a selfish shooter, he's probably the most complete player in the game today, capable of providing his team with the best shooting, passing and defense in the league, as well as those intangibles of leadership and inspiration. (Emphasis mine.)

  141. Baseballhead Says:

    Whoops, missed a tag. Sure wish we could edit.

  142. KevinG Says:

    Yeah, guys like Greer, Arizin, West and Baylor really sucked.

  143. Baseballhead Says:

    #142 is Exhibit A that it's not enough to say that the Russell Celtics were the better team every year. The Kevins of the world insist that they have to be better human beings, too.