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Boxscore Breakdown: Kobe Drops 61

Posted by Neil Paine on February 3, 2009

Last night, Kobe Bryant put up an MSG-record 61 points, breaking Bernard King's old mark of 60 from 1984. Since we focused on a not-so-great game by Kobe the last time we did a boxscore breakdown, I figured we should look at a game where Kobe is at his absolute best:

4 Factors  Pts Poss eFG% TOr  OR%  FTr  ORtg
LA Lakers  126  102 56.5 15.6 32.5 36.9 122.9
NY Knicks  117  102 47.8 12.7 26.4 30.1 114.2
Player           Tm   Pos  Min Poss PProd ORtg  %Pos DRtg Floor% Stops  Stop%
Lamar Odom       LAL  PF   38  12.6  9.2  73.2  15.6 105.8 0.369  10.8  0.667
Luke Walton      LAL  SF   22   5.2  7.5 143.5  11.1 116.0 0.733   4.1  0.432
Pau Gasol        LAL  PF   41  19.8 30.1 152.1  22.6 112.3 0.732   9.0  0.516
Kobe Bryant      LAL  SG   37  31.4 49.2 156.4  39.8 121.2 0.687   4.9  0.312
Derek Fisher     LAL  PG   25   1.6  2.7 166.3   3.1 115.9 0.600   4.6  0.435
Trevor Ariza     LAL  SF   26  11.5 11.9 104.1  20.7 112.4 0.480   5.7  0.516
Jordan Farmar    LAL  PG   22   7.6  7.9 103.0  16.3 107.4 0.396   5.9  0.629
V. Radmanovic    LAL  SF    6   3.9  1.3  33.9  30.6 122.4 0.157   0.7  0.285
Sasha Vujacic    LAL  SG   11   2.2  0.6  26.2   9.5 107.1 0.121   3.0  0.637
Josh Powell      LAL  PF   12   2.6  1.5  56.7  10.3 115.5 0.262   2.3  0.442
Sun Yue          LAL  SG    2   0.0  0.0  0.0    0.0 121.9 0.000   0.3  0.295
Al Harrington    NYK  PF   34  18.2 21.1 115.9  25.0 120.2 0.526   7.2  0.496
David Lee        NYK  C    37  17.8 20.6 116.1  22.5 120.5 0.561   7.7  0.490
Jared Jeffries   NYK  C    18   5.9  8.4 141.7  15.5 121.6 0.692   3.6  0.464
Chris Duhon      NYK  PG   38  12.9 12.7  98.2  15.9 129.9 0.434   4.4  0.272
Q. Richardson    NYK  SF   13   5.2  2.7  52.8  18.7 128.3 0.256   1.7  0.309
Wilson Chandler  NYK  SF   31  11.0 17.4 157.4  16.7 122.9 0.734   5.7  0.433
Nate Robinson    NYK  PG   27  15.6 11.9  75.9  27.1 124.7 0.349   4.5  0.392
Danilo Gallinari NYK  SF   20   7.9  9.4 119.9  18.4 121.0 0.509   4.1  0.478
Tim Thomas       NYK  PF   23   9.4 11.4 121.7  19.1 125.0 0.510   3.8  0.385

First of all, it doesn't take a close examination of the numbers to see that defense was certainly not a strength for either team in this game. The league's average points scored per 100 possessions going into tonight's games was 108.2, and the Lakers were allowing only 105.5, good for 6th-lowest in the NBA. Tonight, though, they allowed 114.2 pts/100, one of their poorest defensive showings of the season. Luckily for them, though, the Knicks (whose defense was the league's 13th-worst at 109.5 pts/100) were even worse, giving up a staggering 122.9 pts/100.

Most of that had to do with Bryant, who took on 40% of L.A.'s possessions while he was on the floor (including 48% of their shots) and posted an incredible offensive rating of 156.4 (his average going into the game was 116.2). Kobe asserted his offensive dominance all over the floor, knocking down 3 of his 6 3-pointers, draining 64% of his 2-point attempts, and drawing a foul on 24% of his touches. And from the line, he made all 20 of his FTAs! He did all of this damage while turning the ball over only twice, which made up just 6.4% of his total possessions used. Plus he found time to assist on 20.1% of his teammates' baskets when he wasn't shooting. In the end, he produced at least 1 point 32% of the time that he touched the ball in an attacking position. Truly a brilliant performance by KB24 last night.

And as usual, Kobe's teammates also held up their end of the bargain, even with Andrew Bynum sidelined. Pau Gasol scored "only" 31 points with an ORtg of 152.1 (plus 14 rebounds), Luke Walton had an ORtg of 143.5 (albeit on only 11.1% of L.A.'s possessions), and Trevor Ariza chipped in 13 points off the bench. Mainly, though, it was Bryant who haunted New York, as he set the high-water mark for single-game points this season. And it was only the fourth-highest single-game point total for Bryant in his great career -- we all know about Kobe's 81 in 2006, but he's also had games of 65 and 62 points in recent seasons.

As for the Knicks, they received a number of good offensive performances from the likes of Al Harrington, David Lee, and Wilson Chandler, but defensively they couldn't do anything to slow Bryant down, they struggled to contain Gasol inside, and they didn't hit the defensive glass particularly hard. All told, it was an inauspicious start to what will be a brutal week for the Knicks schedule-wise -- next up are the Cavs at MSG on Wednesday, and then the Celtics come to town on Friday. They'll have to do better on defense than they did last night, because those two teams rank 3rd and 4th in the NBA, respectively, in offensive efficiency.

But back to Bryant. I know it sometimes seems like we pick on the guy here at the BBR blog, comparing him somewhat unfavorably to Michael Jordan and LeBron James... But when he's in one of his scoring zones, he's probably the most dangerous player in the league because he can beat you from just about any spot on the floor. And just like the Raptors did three years ago, the Knicks really learned that lesson the hard way last night.

18 Responses to “Boxscore Breakdown: Kobe Drops 61”

  1. Owen Says:

    I would question if this is really Bryant at his absolute best. Maybe at his best as a scorer, since he was extremely efficient, but Kobe is not at his best when he fails to get a rebound in a game, something that hasn't happened since 2003.

    And no matter how "dangerous" he is, Kobe still is definitely not the best player in the league this year. He isn't close. Flashy games like this notwithstanding, Kobe isn't in the same class as Paul, Lebron, or Dwight Howard.

  2. Steve Says:

    You forgot Dwyane WAde (who has been better this year than Paul, Lebron, Dwight OR Kobe)

    Lebron and Wade have been the two best, no doubt about that. (Good to see Wade healthy again, that kid was best in the nba in 06-07 season up until his injury and his 05-06 season and finals was unreal too in just his 3rd year, he was great for the olympic team thats when you knew he was healthy again)

    I still think that if push came to shove and you had to win just one game that it would be ill-advised to pick Lebron or healthy-Wade over Kobe though, for one game i would take Kobe...... if i was picking for one playoff series or even for one YEAR i would pick healthy-Wade over any of them, and if I was picking for keeps for the next 10 years i'd take Lebron..... (for arguments sake you are adding "your pick" to this years Toronto Raptors to team up with the calderon-parker-bosh-oneal/bargs lineup, deal?)

    but to put it in perspective: just put it this way, if you were a gm and had all 3 of those names in a hat (Kobe, Healthy-Wade, Lebron) and you got whoever you picked out.... there is no way that you would be dissapointed in the result of who you got, period. Thats the all-nba 1st team and those are the 3 best players in the league, period.

  3. Steve Says:

    ps: thats the all-nba 1st team meaning paul-wade-kobe-lebron-howard

  4. Tony Says:

    I see Owen's reference to this in passing, but I do find it statistically notable that someone can reach 60 without recording a rebound (no easy offensive putbacks, no defensive boards that lead to six quick dribbles and a pull-up jumper on the break). A quick look on the site shows that he is the only player to score at least 60 without grabbing a board since 1986-87. The site doesn't list 60-point games earlier than that but I would love to know how many times that has happened. Anyone have ideas?

  5. steve from boston Says:

    That is why Kobe is still the best (Lebron and Healthy-Wade have both been better than him this year so far but Kobe is still the go-to guy of the 3, just ask Coach K and Mike D'antoni)

  6. Owen Says:

    Hasn't Chris Paul been better than him too Steve? Paul is outrebounding Kobe this year (check the rate), has twice the assist rate, more than twice as many steals, and a significantly higher ts%, even after Kobe's amazing effort last night.

    It's a senseless argument I have had many times, but I just don't think Kobe is really anything truly special. Take away Shaq and the titles, take away the LA media spotlight, and the perception would be very very different I think.

    It really amazes me that Kobe gets the credit he does, especially after the Finals last year, where he very clearly failed to live up to the hype. It's been amazing to watch Kobe escape blame for that defeat when the Lakers were so overwhelmingly favored going in. Amazing to see how Pau ended up getting the blame after a performance which was better than Kobe's.

    I cant believe people consider him better than Wade, Wade has actually done what Kobe has failed to do, despite rumors and projections to the contrary. And that is be the outstanding player leading a mediocre team to an nba championship.

    When you look at career stats, its hard to find much difference between Kobe and Pierce.

    And outside of MPG and perhaps injuries, it's very difficult to favor Kobe over Manu, who is far more clutch and on a per minute basis better statistically.

    Ultimately, what it boils down to is I think is that Kobe is indisputably the most entertaining player in the game. He is the best actor in the NBA, no one delivers the spectacle better, and as a result he gets credit for being something which imho he isn't close to being.

    But anyway, pointless argument.

    FYI : Consider the source, disgruntled Knicks Fan

  7. Mike Says:

    Beautiful game to watch. For better or worse, Kobe's one of those players whose greatness doesn't show in statistical categories many times. There is a reason why he's still considered one of if not the best player in the NBA.

  8. CP4 Says:

    offensively, don't put Wade or Lebron in the same breath as Kobe. that's just ridiculous. if you were going to build a technically perfect shooting-guard robot, you would be building Kobe Bryant.

    here's a nice post for the 50-point Kobe historians.

  9. Bernard King Says:

    I want my record back.

  10. steve norris Says:

    kobe may not have the best numbers in the league but when the chips r down, kobes gettn the ball, he wants the ball, and every coach knows they need to double him

  11. Owen Says:

    CP4 - IF you were going to build a perfect shooting guard, you would build Michael Jordan, not Kobe Bryant.

    And why you would prefer Kobe's offense to Lebron's offense this year? Lebron is more efficient than Kobe this year, scores more, and assists more, while playing at the fifth slowest pace in the league.

    Kobe has a prettier game, but Lebron is the better offensive player, no question about it.

  12. Mike Says:


    There's a -1% difference in FG%, +6% in 3pt%, and +10% in FT%, and -0.6ppg from Kobe to LeBron. This year, I really don't think there is a difference in efficiency. No one in the triangle offense gets high assist numbers so I wouldn't expect Kobe's to be high, especially since he's playing low minutes this year. Per 36min, Kobe is scoring more.

    So it really is debatable. From an offensive versatility standpoint, there is no question who's the better scorer. Check the shot charts.

  13. Yocar Says:

    Owen so you think Kobe is really nothing special? Oh God you must be joking or you are just a hater. He is clearly a Top 3 SG of all time and a top 15 player of all time already and you think he's nothing special? He contributed to 3 titles, he has 2 scoring titles,1 mvp and has been robbed of at least one more and the guy even has more 60 point games than MJ in the regular season. I could go on and on, wade is not better than kobe...the guy does not have a long range game.

  14. CP4 Says:

    @Owen, completely disagree. Jordan did not have the range of Kobe. he never drained more than six threes in a game. Kobe has hit 8, 9, 10, 12 threes in a game. it's not just threes, its that Kobe's jumpshot has unlimited range. Jordan's did not. So thats why i said if you wanted to build the perfect "shooting guard" - emphasis on "shooting" - then Kobe is it.

    as for the Wade and Lebron comparisons. lets remember that right now they are 6-7 years younger than Kobe. they are running around in the physical peak of their careers. Kobe was like that back when he was with Shaq, and of course, he had to sacrifice a lot of his game back then.

  15. Owen Says:

    Mike - Lebron has raised his ft% to 77% this year. As a result, his ts% is higher than Kobe's this year. Not by a lot, just .6 of a percent, but at 58.1 it is .1% higher than Kobe's career high. So, Kobe is not more efficient than Lebron. And on a pace adjusted, per minute basis Lebron scores more, (due to the fact the Lakers average 5.6 possessions per game more than the Cavs). Lebron also is a significantly better passer and offensive rebounder, which more than makes up for Kobe's small edge in turnovers.

    I don't know where that insight about the triangle offense comes from, but Kobe's assist rate this year is pretty much exactly where its always been.

    You can have the versatile guy if you want, I will take the guy who scores more and more efficiently. At the end of the day versatility is simply a means to an end, which is to score as efficiently as possible and win as many games as possible. It's not an art competition.

    Yocar - I am not a hater, I just don't wear Kobe goggles. I don't think Kobe has been the best player in the league any year in his career, which makes sense since for the first 8 years of his career he was the second best player on his own team.

    Kobe is a great player but his reputation has always exceeded his actual ability. Michael Jordan set the standard for point guard play and Kobe falls so far short of that standard I really see no reason to consider him an all-time great.

  16. Owen Says:

    That should have said Jordan set the standard for "shooting guard" play obviously...

    CP4 - Look, go to Michael Jordan's page here and see how many years he led the league in Win Shares. Then see how many times Kobe has done it.

    Kobe Bryant is a great basketball player. In his career, he has consistently been in the top fifteen players in the NBA. Some years he has been in the top five. But he has never been the best player in the game and he certainly isn't an all-time great like Jordan, Wilt, Magic, or Bird. He isn't close.

    If Kobe hadn't landed on the same team as Shaq his rookie year you would be agreeing with me.

  17. CP4 Says:

    i can't have an argument with someone who believes Kobe has "never been the best player in the game". Go and look up who has been named to the All-NBA First Team AND All-NBA First Defensive Team the last three years. There's only one guy, Kobe Bryant. No one in the league has been as great as Kobe at BOTH ends of the floor the last five years. Don't take it from me though. Take it from Lebron and just about every other player in the league.

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