Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

« Previous Post | Lakers Now Home | Next Post »

Back on track

After opening Tuesday night's game against the Raptors at Staples flirting with the three pointer like a sailor on leave, the Lakers settled down for the final three quarters, controlling the game and cruising to a relatively easy 117-108 win.  Hopefully the final 36 minutes put memories of Sunday's loss and the first twelve minutes of tonight's game, and everyone can get some solid z's.  Kobe led the way with 34, LO chipped in with a very solid 20/9.  Fish hit some big threes, finishing with 18 to go along with five dimes, and the supporting cast (led tonight by Ronny Turiaf, Luke Walton, and- seriously- Coby Karl) gave the Lakers a big boost. 

Sorry for any formatting issues with the breakdown below.  There were some web problems at Staples tonight, accounting for any potential goofiness.

BK

The Good:

  • Lamar Odom: 20/9/3 including a huge third quarter where he was the catalyst for the Lakers offense.  13 points on 6-8 from the floor.  Odom showed the full range over that 12, finding his way to the rim on the dribble, with the post up, and by cutting off screens, then tossing in a three for good measure. 
  • Luke Walton: When he plays well, this is the sort of game he'll have.  In the second quarter with the Lakers struggling, he, along with a very active Coby Karl, helped get the Lakers moving, and moving the ball.  Walton found guys out of the post and cutting into it, racking up four dimes in just over nine minutes on the floor. In the fourth, he provided some stout D, forcing an early turnover on Kris Humphries, then teaming with Kobe on the next possession to force another.  I'm not a believer in allowing +/- to tell the full story of a player's performance, but +9 in only 17:45 minutes indicates good things were happening with Walton on the floor. 
  • Ronny Turiaf: More than simply an energy guy tonight, Ronny provided 9/4/3, along with a block, hit a couple of big shots from the perimeter in the second quarter as the Lakers started to get their act together on that end. 
  • Kobe Bryant: I didn't love the performance early, despite some gaudy Q1 stats, but as the game went on, I thought Kobe played very well.  Six points, three dimes in the second on 3-3 from the floor, a mellow third while LO dominated offensively (though Kobe did set up one of Odom's baskets with a sweet feed off a slip screen), and a massive fourth.  Twelve points, three more assists, and a really big block on a TJ Ford layup attempt.  More importantly, he didn't turn the ball over in the final three quarters. 
  • Coby Karl: He doesn't get a lot of minutes outside of garbage time, but when PJ turned to him tonight, likely out of frustration with how his more established players were mucking things up, Karl was ready.  He played in control, moved himself all over the floor, penetrated and kicked, and helped jump start the offense.  Three points, two boards, and a block in seven minutes isn't a massive line, but he made an impact tonight.  I'm sure he felt better about that contribution than all the trash minutes put together. 

Generally speaking, as soon as the Lakers stopped their love affair with the outside shot (eight of their first 14 shots were triples), or at least stopped shooting without either a penetrating pass or drive first, things got a lot better offensively.  It's something Kobe says they "absolutely" need to remember to do, and did well as the game went on. "Especially in the start of the fourth quarter, I just told the guys, "Throw the ball to me in the post.  Let's not play around with it." Just throw it in and make the defense do something. Then when Pau got in the game, it was throw it in to me, or throw it in to Pau.  This way you make the defense collapse or make them make some type of decision and then we can get easy opportunities.  Early, we were just hoisting them up.  If you make them, fine.  But you're not going to make too many of those at a high enough clip to be successful at them."

The Bad:

  • Vlad Radmanovic: 19 minutes, 0-5 from the floor, 0-3 from downtown, no rebounds, no assists.  Only a blocked shot in the third ruined what would have been a fabulous "bagel line."  It wasn't like he didn't have a chance, either.  PJ stuck with him a lot longer than he normally does when Vladdy is piloting his own personal space shuttle. 
  • The First Quarter: Because the Raptors, without Chris Bosh, aren't a particularly powerful bunch, the Lakers managed to escape the frame down only three.  That doesn't mean they deserved such a tight score.  Seven turnovers, including four from Kobe, who, while he scored 13 points, on 5-8 from the floor, wasn't all that great early.  He spent a lot of time working one-on-one, and like everyone else on the floor, became totally enamored with the three point shot.  Just as there are times when he doesn't score and totally dominates (he'd get much better as the game went along, and was awesome in the fourth, as noted above) there are others when he does, but the numbers are deceiving. The Lakers had a flat first twelve, and allowing their mistakes to give Toronto a boost.  Even with the easy giveaways, they still held the Raptors to 41.7% from the floor.  Take away the miscues, and they leave the quarter with a seven or eight point lead.  Big difference.

    BK

Unfortunately, the postgame audio with Phil accidentally got erased. I'm not going to mention any names or hint at where the fault lies, but BK did want to mention that he's sorry.  At any rate, Phil mentioned that he was fairly pleased once the team got beyond the first quarter, which he thought was too shot happy, particularly from distance.  Hard to argue that contention, considering the Lakers shot ten from behind the arc during those opening twelve minutes.  "I thought we came out and played ourselves into a deficit by playing too fast."  Jackson thought the team might have been trying to a little hard to deliver a knockout punch from the outset, which resulted in the barrage of bombs.

A little of that mentality still remained going into the second, and it didn't take long for Phil to pull Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic in favor of Luke Walton (a typical second quarter substitution) and Coby Karl (who would be anything but).  "We needed a small defender, a guard defender," explained Jackson of the unusual move.  "Sasha was not doing what I wanted done on the floor and at that particular time we were just cranking up shots against their zone."  To his credit, Karl acquitted himself nicely over seven minutes of early action, garnering praise for his decision making, a key three pointer and doing an adequate job on the defensive end.  I also wondered if inserting Karl at that particular time was as much about sending a message that he'd demand guys play the right way even if he had to look down the bench. Phil confirmed my suspicion.  "I think so, but that's the one thing you have as a coach, playing time as the ultimate, 'if you want to play, do the right thing' type thing.

But these turn of events did create the opportunity for Karl to do the rare post-game interview (and you'll hear Luke Walton congratulating the rook for getting stopped by yours truly).  Karl's a coach's son and no dummy on top if it, so he understood from the outset Phil's use of him as a "pawn" to some sizable degree.  But at the same time, he was also psyched to get some meaningful minutes, human "message" or not. In his words, it's "1000%" better than garbage time.   "I enjoy the appreciation by th the fans, but I really strive to be in there with the game counts.  You practice for situations like that and you stay ready for situations like that.  Fortunately, he gave me the opportunity."  What does he take away from a night like this, where he played well but also knows he wasn't necessarily playing to win a spot in the rotation.  "It's like giving your bird a little snack.  It keeps me hungry and helps me out a lot."

If anything, it beats all the running Karl usually does day in and day out.

Said the other Kobe on Coby: "I told him I was very proud of him.  I told him at halftime I was proud to be called Kobe because of the way he was playing.  I think he came in and did a great job, it's always tough in that position, he doesn't know when he's going to go in, and I think Phil kind of shocked him a little bit, but he came in and did a great job."

Cool little post-game item.  As I was entering the locker room, I saw Ronny Turiaf in the hallway taking a few pictures with a kid about probably 5 or 6 years old.  About ten minutes later, Turiaf was giving the little man a tour of the locker room, pointing out Kobe and introducing him to Lamar Odom.  As I was leaving, Ronny was snapping a picture of LO and his buddy.  I imagine this kid was pretty amped the entire ride home.

Also, Mike Bresnahan is reporting that the Lakers might ink Ira Newble.  The official K Brothers stance?  We'd support the move. Dude's a smart, good defender and could help pick up some slack if Ariza either isn't available or takes a while to round into game shape.

Download coby_karl_postgame_3.10.08.mp3 (Coby Karl)
Download lamar_odom_postgame.mp3 (Lamar Odom)

AK

 
Comments () | Archives (31)

The comments to this entry are closed.

A nice tribute song to Kobe for MVP by Lupe Fiasco http://www.kb24.com/content/audio/kobe_lupe_mvp.mp3

Coby Karl was the starter and the other engine named Kobe zoomed the Lakers. They need this win as an insurance for this uphill battles on the road. If they just play 48 minutes as a team, there is no reason to lose any games even to the contenders.

I like the reaction of Luke Walton said he's excited about the trip. So there you go, that's the lakers assurance of a good trip.

Accidentally erased audio happens. No biggie.

On the Ira Newble signing - they don't need to drop anyone to sign him right? If so, that does sound like a good pick-up. He'd be like Ronny's twin. Except I think Ronny has a better outside shot, starting this season.

I wouldn't mind signing Newble as a stop-gap before Ariza comes back (if he does indeed come back this season).

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/photo?slug=
ef4fdabdbe284bed94465d96013257ac.raptors_lakers_
basketball_las102&prov=ap

this pic shows that kobe's foul is really flagrant... u can see that he is not going for the ball... kobe's a dirty player... he's no MVP... lebron is the MVP

Laker Lover

Do the refs really have something against kobe? this is not a flagrant... clearly, kobes going for the ball... its a hard foul but not a flagrant... i think kobe should mellow down on the refs so that he could get some love from them... big games ahead of us.. i hope we can win sll tose 4 road games

Go Lakers! Best in the West!

Kobe 4 MVP

Look Lonely

funny pic from last nights game.I seriously like the emotion that D fish and Kobe are showing in it though. Thats the true killer instinct that everyone needs to learn from on the lakers.
http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/photo?slug=40e69dbc68804
9819bd1d871527df42f.raptors_lakers_basketball_las105&p
rov=ap

AK/BK,
i'm an audio engineer. if you send me the clips, i'll normalize and compress them, so we can hear them....

:^D

D-

Thanks for the offer, but I'm afraid you can't restore what's been erased. Oops.

BK

BK,
i'm talking about future clips that you are posting for us to hear. 15 minutes of work would make them much easier to understand.

i'm not complaining, just offering as a fan...

man,

I think that would be awesome. I always find myself putting on headphones and listening to the clips REALLY loud just to try and make out some of the words that are being said. Any clean up done on the audio would be GREATLY appreciated.

btw BK, that ":^D" is a face, not a signature

:P

Laker Lover,
Thanks for providing proof that dissing Kobe can in some cases be symptomatic of a pathological condition. The picture, as Look Lonely points out, shows clearly that Kobe had his hands only on the ball (along with the opponent's hand, which is part of the ball). There's a lot of body contact, so it definitely is a foul especially as the live action showed Kobe preventing him from elevating and scoring. It was a hard foul, which is part of the game, even a precious skill. Nothing dirty about it.

There's plenty to criticize about Kobe, but remarks like that accompanied by photographic evidence reveal that you are a pathological hater when you interpret good baskeball strategy and execution not only as incompetence but as a proof of moral failing ("kobe's a dirty player... he's no MVP... lebron is the MVP").

Your perverse interpretation of the photo and your non sequitur conclusion are both flagrant and foul.

We'd better start playing better defense or we're not getting anywhere near one of those shiny trophies they give out once a year.

This isn't just not championship defense--this isn't western Conference champion defense or maybe not even Pacific Division championship defense. (that may be the worst sentence ever written, by the way).

This is loose at home to Seattle defense, and it isn't pretty.

We need to step it up. I’m glad we have this killer 4 game roadie coming up. This is going to force us to ante up and kick in (as it were).

Ok…

Wes

BK-

i think what "man" is trying to say is if you could amplify the sound files, it'd make the overall audio bits experience better. for instance, for the lamar audio, it could sound something like this:
http://download.yousendit.com/2665BA022FDFF90A

it takes about 30 seconds to do after you've figured everything out.

try using a program called "audacity" and downloading the lame_enc plugin (both can be found free online) if you guys are interested. that's how i did it, but i'm sure there are even better ways. i just don't know about em.

also, i think "man" didn't actually want to be referred to as D. i think he was trying to make a smiley face with a cone shaped nose, lol

*****
GREAT ARTICLE ON GREATEST 2 GUARDS OF
ALL TIME, HINT KOBE IS RANKED ABOVE THE LOGO
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/index

The Lakers looked flat with minimal energy in this game. It could be a 1-3 road trip or worse if they continue this trend. They were also out rebounded by the Raptors. What has happened to their defense?

A quick update on Bynum...

Bynum progressing from kneecap injury, no timetable set for return
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers center Andrew Bynum ran on a treadmill Tuesday for the first time since injuring his left knee two months ago.


Bynum temporarily dislocated his kneecap and sustained a bone bruise early in the third quarter of a 100-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 13 when he landed on teammate Lamar Odom's left foot while going for a rebound.

"He's coming along well. He's progressing," coach Phil Jackson said before Tuesday night's game against the Toronto Raptors. "It's not as fast as he'd like to, but we're looking at the big picture here.

"We know that he makes a big difference in our team, but ultimately the organization feels we don't have to rush him into anything and jeopardize the situation."

Lakers spokesman John Black said no timetable has been set for Bynum's return, adding: "We set a minimum of eight weeks. We didn't set a maximum."

The Lakers hope the 20-year-old center will return before the playoffs begin the weekend of April 18-19. He has been rehabilitating by running in a swimming pool.

Bynum ran for 20 minutes on a new $75,000 treadmill that simulates low gravity situations. A player can run without the pounding he would normally experience on a regular treadmill or on the court, which gives his legs a break. Black said Bynum ran at 60-65 percent of his body weight.

"The thing with Andrew is how the knee responds when he works out," Jackson said. "You can see the strength coming. He still gets fatigued and it's all about that muscle firing and the protection and all that stuff that's going on.

"It's just part of recovery from an injury and the body protecting itself. But the swelling that happens around that injury is what we're going to have to watch and eliminate as we go down the stretch toward the end of the season."

A third-year pro taken by the Lakers with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft, Bynum is averaging 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.06 blocked shots. He was the NBA leader in field-goal percentage (63.6 percent) and ranked 11th in rebounding and ninth in blocked shots when he was injured.

sick lupe track....

"There were some web problems at Staples tonight"

Probably Cuban's revenge, for daring to question him.

AK/BK,

While trying not to be insulting of your intelligences...I'm sure you double-checked the recycle bin (or trashcan, if you are using Mac)?

Just a thought.

BTW, if properly motivated (this means with a fair amount of disposable cash handy -- and don't look at me, I don't have any of that "cash" stuff handy), even if you've dumped your trashcan or recycle bin, it could still be recovered since most things created on a computer are never really destroyed.

That's my $.02 on the subject.

--FearlessWhackJob

Good morning everyone!

Good to see a Laker victory last night, especially with people contributing in ways that you wouldn't think (CK and Luke).

I'm looking forward to a .500 trip - because it's a tough roadie, and I think that one of them might be a back-to-back.

Hope everyone has a good day today!

I hope Mitch will sign Ira Newble. He is a defensive minded player with veteran experience in the playoffs. He can be our stopper while Trevor Ariza is still out. Newble can also hit jumpshots.

Hello,

I just saw this: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-GreatestSGs

Interesting ....

Good Morning!!!
Good win by the Lakers last night.

Signing Ira Newble will be a good decision by the Lakers. He is a certified banger!!! the one that can guard a Lebron type body. The kind of player that does the dirty work. Lakers needs some toughness!!!!!!

drew gooden scores 24 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. after this without playing with lebron, he just lost the mvp.

*____________________
THA SHOW EDWIN PSYCHED LAKER GIRL
KEIFOOO, LAKER NATION 10 MINUTES TO
ROLL CALL. OUT OF THOSE NOW!

*_______________________________*
March 12, 2008 The Force is in balance
The Lakers are in 1st Place - All’s right in Laker Nation
Good Morning Charles Good Morning Tha Show
Good Morning Keifooo Good Morning VMAN
Good Morning PsychedLakerGirl
GOOD MORNING LAKER NATION!!

NO EIGHTY ONE BUT THE LAKERS STILL WON *

MAMBA’S PLAYER GAME RATINGS:

KOBE 31/2STARS LAMAR 4STARS GASOL 31/2 STARS
FISHER 21/2 STARS VLAD RAD ½ STAR SASHA 2STARS
RONNY 2STARS

AND NOW INTRODUCING THE BENCHMOB :
(3) TREVOR ARIZA (5) JORDAN FARMAR, (1) COBY KARL
(10) VALDAMIR RADMANOVIC , (28) DIDIER ILUNGA-MBENGA
(21) RONNY TURIAF (8) SASHA VUJACIC -(4) LUKE WALTON

Now The Starting Lineup For The 14 TIME WORLD CHAMPION LA LAKERS:
At center number 17 ANDREW BYNUMMMMMMMMM
At forward number 16 PAU GASOLLLLLLLLL
At forward number 7 LAMAR ODOMMMMMMMMMM
At guard number 2 DEREK FISHERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
At guard number 24 KOOOBEEEEE BRYYYANTTTTTT}

ROLLLLLLL CALLLLLLLLL LAKER NATION SOLDIERS REPORT IN:
(1) FAITH, BOB, KEIFO, THA_SHOW, VMAN. JJ., CHARLES
TALIQ, EDWIN GUECO, MIKE T, ZAKEE, CLEON, SBPIMP, TAOSHUM, TSIRY
LAKERLEGACY, WOLF, EXHELODRVR, NEMIA FALETOGO, David WHANG
COMPTONS_FINEST, TIM-4-SHOW, RICK FRIEDMAN, KIWI, LAKER TOM,
JON KAVULIC, WeaveMAN, SixONEZero, FearlessWhackJOB, HMRHED #4
DICE8UP, TSPHERE, utzworld THE BANNER HOLDER, JANAYA, RDLEE
JESTERGURU, ANGRY LAKER, DREWPAUKOBE, KELLY, LAKERTRUTH
GREEN_PAZ , TRIO,FKILLAH, PETE MAGUIRE, ANDREW Z, JMAN, JCOOL
TEEJ, PK-IN-THE-MESA, PSYCHED LAKER GIRL, LAKERGURL, ELLE,
HUGOBOSS, COMPLEX_BROTHA, GENERIC ONE, HOBBITMAGE, THE_D.
FIRE32, GIANTSQUID, BOZ, TOAD, HAPPY GILMORE, WESJOENIXON
Mamba24Fan4Life, FanofMamba, WhiteMamba24, BlackMamba24, BrownMamba24
Just-AnotherMambaFan, Just-A-LakerFan VI LakerFan, LAL_FAN, TP, WondahBap,
YOU EVER NOTICE ? TAOSHUM, AKR68, PW, FIRE32, LAKERFAN , MAMBA#5
TellITLikeItIs PSLAKERLOVER, EastCoastJessie, The Dropper, DOC4daLakeShow
10MILLION DOLLAR ZEN AFROJOE, SMOOTH D, LAKER NORTH, HAPPY DAZE
JeffGROTKE,KOBESBAD, KOREY, Lakers4REALZ, GINO, GABE, DC, SIGH, DARICK
IDIOT, LAKERDAWG, DK, MOB_WAGONEER, DOC, JANDRO, NIK KANNAN, WOW
AdamKiley, LakersryDeordie, The CAT, DarkAngelSK, JUSTIN, CHRIS H, Rose, ANDO
THE_LAKESHOW, BAYWOOD, CaliKing, Thirty2, The OUTLAW, AIME WILLIAMS
CBUCK, GDChild, ZEN, DION, Centralk, FATTY, Greek Dude, Staples24, FRANKY J.
TWOODY, Ajax, MITCHELL, BZAR, PJ_DOUBTER, Occupant-Cell-186, GUY, ANDO,
NEVER, LakaLover, Bynumite, LakerDogerDieHardInUpStateNY, Chucky.L.Ohnio, ,
CAMERON, NEVITT, LakerHOPEFUL, CHUCK23, LakerSMR, TRUE_LAKER_FAN,
DARRYL WHITE, CLASSIC, AMAZING_HAPPENS, LAKER/KOBE_FAN, GILLY,
BENJAMIN, LEBRON_LOVER, DREW, Han_Soul_Food, Purple&Gold_4EVA
LOOK_LONELY, MEL, HAN_SOUL_FOOD, HMMMM, DAXMDD, 40YEAR_FAN,
Sead94, JOREMA, Xtro, MCGarnagle, Gugy, Laker4Life, KEN, LAKERFAZE, KYLE
BLKTHGHT06, CYRUS(Ventrilquist), PIG MILLER , TROY, KOBE_ROCKS, CS
PhxLkrFAN, Pince Akrasian, TexasLaker, EagleBoy, JR., KOBES T., FlagrantFOWL
Purple & Gold, t_Sensei, Tully Moxness, Brandon C. LakerHOLIIC, SWETTUAL,
Kinglakernidas, HUBBIT, BronxLakerFan, RespectMyAuthorith, Hariyahu, LakerLass
Michael J, Michael H, Michael A., ALEXINH017, VIOLATER, KIKOS_DAD, Marty,
LAKERGURL, LEELO, CriticalBeatDown, BLAZE1BX, SIMONE, Paul Lee, MAXXIMO
Tajluck, , BerkleyLaker,CRAIG, B4Hoops, RYAN, CALIPHILOSOPHER, HeWhoHoops
JR, Dascilla, tellitlikeitis, Nik Kannan, Sean P. HollywoodJack, Rico Tico, NestrossBistro,
SocalSpider,AA LOS, LAKOBER, Slo GAL, Linda Pineda, SAMLL, ALLANSY8, Sead94
ChiTownLaker, RealityCheckTime, CORNER J., WiZo, MagicShaq, RealityBites,
LakerLarry, Jay Jay, LakerLifer, Tripgame3, Houstion Laker, Todd Battles, SHIVA
JoninJAPAN(INCANADA), LT Laker Fan, Mainor, East Nyboer, Long Live Chick,
JEFF, Andy B. SwanWorld, , Benny Blanca, HAL9000, Tim in Sydney,
LakerBake, AnyOneMouse, GHOSTofHAWKEYE, PHIL JACKSON, TEX WINTER}
*
ALL TOGETHER NOW:
WE ARE THE FREAKIN LA LAKERS THE WINNERS OF 14 NBA TITLES
THE TEAM WITH THE BEST WINNING PERCENTAGE IN NBA HISTORY
THE HOME OF WILT, KAREEM, GEORGE MIKAN, SHAQ, MAGIC, KOBE,
ELGIN BAYLOR, THE LOGO(JERRY WEST), PAT RILEY, JAMES WORTHY,
COACHED BY THE 9 TIME TITLE WINNER PHIL (9RINGS) JACKSON
AND NO ONE WILL EVER CONQUER OR DIVIDE US}

Ira Newble would be a Key pickup for the Lakers..We DEF need some toughness to piggyback on what a previous blogger eluded. Somebody with major cojones! Besides Kobe, Sasha, and Ronny, and Fish, our current players lack a physical toughness needed to put fear in anyone on the court, especially when it comes to penetration to the basket. We need to shore that up if we want to make some real noise in the playoffs. This is not the time for the Lakers to start with their lackadaiscal attitude. Pau needs to step up his on the court persona, gets some FIYAH going out there, we are the LAKERS for Christ sakes! remember that.

I love the way Lamar has been playing lately, he needs to do MORE of that, just be aggressive and when he and Luke DO get opportunities at the free throw line, they need to make it count and stop being Liabilities when it comes to free-throw shooting..

I don't remember whose phrase it was, but I would like to say that vlad was one block away from a 'trillion'

as in 12 zeros on the box score.

a very diverse skill set on this page. between audio tech, chinese folk remedies, and intense amateur psychology, I wonder when we will get to have a 'survivor' for various teams blogs to compete with each other. one desert island, a bunch of bloggers, and some liquid sea minerals. as bill simmons would say, this needs to happen.

and I would give ira newble a try. coby getting minutes early is a sign that we need some depth at guard as the season goes on. but as I understand it, he (newble) won't be eligible for the playoffs, no?

I felt the urge of placing this here for all of us to read....
================================================

Since most of you NEW NBA fans think LeBron is better then Kobe let me convince you otherwise.

As we head into the final stretch of the season, the MVP discussions have began to heat up. As they have, one thing has become painfully obvious. Whether he has earned these honors or not, he will not receive them. It's not my place to decide if Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Chris Paul, or Kevin Garnett is most deserving of this award. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Each of those players have staked a rightful claim to the award with their play this season. What is unfortunate though is that one of the favorites to win this award is not being given a fair and objective chance at winning it.

Prior to Colorado, and the sexual assault allegations, Kobe was the NBA's golden child. Similar to Lebron James the media had latched on to him early. A boy wonder with a squeeky clean image. That image would forever be shattered after those allegations. The story then became that of a fallen hero. Like a greek tragedy, people were entertained by the idea of an ego-driven star who had broken up a dynasty, driven out it's other stars and Hall of Fame Coach. Kobe the villain sold newspapers and improved ratings. That is not to say that he has not deserved the criticism he has received. There is one question that deserves to be asked though. Is it truly possible that Kobe was once a model citizen and a great guy, only to one day decide do a complete role reversal and turn into the Anti-Christ? A much more feasible explanation is that he was never as clean, or as evil as his media portrayal.

The reality is that journalists are just people. They take sides. They become offended if they are snubbed by a player, and sometimes they can be vindictive. Yet the NBA's Most Valuable Player award is determined by the sports media. Two seasons ago Steve Nash walked away with MVP honors for the second straight season, joining an elite cast of multiple time winners. Nash had a great season, and kept the Suns afloat without the injured Amare Stoudemire. Kobe Bryant would finish fourth in MVP voting despite averaging 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals. His 35.4 points was the most the league had seen in nineteen seasons, since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 in 1986-87, and he led that Lakers team to a 45-37 record and pushed them to the brink of an upset, going up 3-1 against the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs.

Allow me remind you of his roster at that time. That team featured Smush Parker, Kwame Brown and Luke Walton as 3/5 of it's starting lineup. Kwame Brown is stinking it up on one of the leagues worst teams and Smush Parker has been on paid vacation for most of this season by the league's worst team. Luke Walton had his break out season the next year, but averaged just 5 points and 3.6 rebounds that season. To have led that team to 45 wins and the brink of an upset was truly an accomplishment for Kobe. Say what you will about the Cavaliers supporting cast this season, but they are innumerably better than Kobe's Lakers team two seasons ago.

Yet 22 members of the media didn't even feel that Kobe was worthy of a top five vote. The 125 man panel gave him 22 first place votes, 11 second place, 18 third place, 22 fourth place and 30 fifth place votes. If cornered with the question of why Kobe Bryant failed to receive more two votes the de facto response were that his Lakers team simply wasn't good enough. The MVP usually goes to the best player on one of the best teams. Okay, I can respect that. The media backed up that notion last season by voting Dirk Nowitzki as the league's MVP.

What I don't understand is that many members of the same media have suddenly done a 180 on the criteria of MVP this season. Kobe has taken more of a backseat role this season. He has allowed his teammates to do more, and in the process the Lakers have become a better team. Even before the acquisition of Pau Gasol, the Lakers were the top team in the West prior to Bynum's knee injury. His 28.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.0 steals is more impressive than the 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 0.8 blocks that Nowitzki posted en route to the MVP last season.

Yet, there is an alarming trend in the media. Suddenly they have decided that the old criteria didn't make much sense after all. In recent weeks the Lebron for MVP talk has picked up. The Cavs are 35-27 and in 4th place in the much weaker Eastern Conference. The Lakers are 43-18 and second in the Western Conference, despite battling injuries all season. Let's put that into perspective. Despite playing in the much weaker conference, and thus having a lighter schedule, the Cavaliers current record would place them as a 10th seed in the west, or two seeds away from the last spot in the playoffs.

ESPN's John Hollinger answered some questions on his choice of Lebron James, followed by Chris Paul as his MVP candidates earlier this week. He began by explaining that 58 of the 82 games are identical between the two conferences and that it shouldn't make a large difference in the win/loss column. I'm sorry John, but that just won't fly. That leaves a whopping 30% of the eason where western conference teams are battling it out with much stiffer competition. Mr. Hollinger knows this well, as his power rankings are determined by a statistical analysis which calculates the Strength of Schedule. According to his own power rankings the Cavs would place as the 15th best team. The Cavs have faced the 18th most difficult schedule in the league this season. The Lakers meanwhile are even with the Mavericks for the 7th most difficult. Of the ten most difficult schedules to date, only three of those teams were in the eastern conference, topped by the Knicks at #4. If the strength of schedule means so little, then why does he weight it so heavily in his standings? In the end he would explain that he felt that Lebron was head and shoulders above the rest of the league right now, and for that reason he would get his vote. If that were the case then why didn't he vote for Kobe two seasons ago?

Kelly Dwyer shared his sentiments in a recent article at Yahoo Sports. He would say in that article that Kobe probably should have been the MVP in the 2005-2006 MVP race, and not have been punished for playing on an otherwise poor team. He would then explain his thoughts of why Lebron has been a better player this season and deserves the award this season. The problem here is that Kelly Dwyer wrote an article two years ago at when he picked Lebron James as his MVP then. Why the change of heart now? Does anyone honestly believe that the Cavs supporting cast is weaker right now than the Lakers was two seasons ago? If next season Kobe averaged 50 points a game beause the rest of his team died in a plane crash but the Lakers struggled, would the criteria change yet again?

Has Lebron really surpassed Kobe as the games best player? If you look at statistics, then a strong case can be made. Lebron outdoes Kobe in just about every statistical ranking at a glance. Lebron averages 2.3 more points, 2 more rebounds and 2.3 more assists per game than Kobe. He also shoots a better field goal percentage and has more blocks. Kobe has a higher free throw and three point percentage, as well as averaging more steals. He does play a couple more minutes per game than Kobe. On the surface it seems like an easy choice if the criteria is purely on who is the better player. Numbers can be deceiving though.
The most important difference is defense. You know, the activity that occurs during the other half of the game. Kobe has been on the all-defensive team seven times in the past eight seasons, including five first team appearances. Lebron meanwhile is an average defender. The interesting thing is that some members of the media have attempted to do the jedi mind trick on us, and convince us that Lebron has turned into a good defensive player. While I agree that his defense has definitely improved, to call him a good defender would be a stretch. Effective Field Goal Percentage is a representation which takes three point baskets into the equation of field goal percentage. Opposing small forwards have shot a 50% eFG against Lebron this season. Meanwhile, Kobe has held opposing shooting guards to a mere 44.1% eFG against him. That's a huge difference.

Next up is rebounding. Both players are good rebounders at their positions. The difference is the positions they play. Kobe plays 77% of his minutes as a shooting guard, and the remaining 23% as a small forward. Meanwhile Lebron plays 73% of his minutes as a small forward, and the remaining 27% as a power forward. Rebounding is primarily a responsibility of forwards, and not guards.

Assists is a no brainer. Lebron is a better passer and more willing passer than Kobe. Kobe leads his team in assists year in and year out though. Over the past seven years Kobe has averaged 5.4 assists per game. His primary role though, is as a scorer. As a scorer, Kobe is second to none. Despite chasing Lebron for the scoring lead this season, Kobe is still the better scorer. His field goal percentage as a result of 74% of his shots being outside shots, as compared ot 61% of Lebron's shots. Kobe shoots 45.8% efG on his jump shots though, as compared to James' 39.3%, that's the difference of 6.5%. The big difference difference here is that Lebron is taking 22.3 shots per game, as compared to just 20.4 by Bryant. That is nearly 7 shots less per game than Bryant took two seasons ago.

At the end of the day you can make a strong argument for either player as the games best. Do you value Lebron's passing or Kobe's defense? What you can not argue though is that Lebron makes his teammates better and that Kobe does not. This is an argument that gets used seemingly any time the two are compared. Apparently averaging more assists equals out to making your teammates better. Nevermind the fact that the triangle is not an assist-friendly offense. Let's just stick to the undeniable facts and compare the teammates of both players. The only player who has shown any significant improvement prior to being traded to play with Lebron are Drew Gooden and Carlos Boozer. Boozer was a rookie the year before Lebron came, and had a decent year with him before heading to Utah. His field goal percentage dropped with Lebron but his scoring average went from 10 to 15.5. They only played together one season. Drew Gooden saw his field goal percentage leap by 4.7% in his first season with Lebron, and his scoring average jumped by 2.8. His scoring would drop back down in later seasons.

Ilgauskus was an all-star before playing with Lebron. He has not shown any improvement. In fact the only career high he can boast since the arrival of Lebron is in blocked shots. What has been most confusing about Lebron's game though is that they have brought in a number of guys who have played absolutely terribly with him. One would have to wonder why Kevin Ollie saw his shooting percentage drop from 45.1% the season before playing with Lebron to 37% in the season playing alongside of him. He was only 31 years of age. Ricky Davis was traded mid-season in Lebron's rookie season. He responded by lifting his shooting percentage by 5.7% and his three point percentage by 2.6%. Eric Snow had averaged 12.1, 12.9 and 10.3 points in his three previous seasons, while shooting 44..2%, 45.2% and 41.3%. He joined Lebron at age 31 and plummeting to 4 points per game on 38.2% shooting, despite playing a 22.8 minutes per game.

The next season they made the moves that were supposed to move them into contention. They brought in Donyell Marshall, who had long been a deadly shooter. He had averaged 11.5 points on 41.6% from beyond the arc the season before, and had shot 40% or better from that range for the past two seasons and routinely averaged in the low teens. Yet in three seasons with the Cavs he never shot better than 35.1% from that range or averaged more than 9.3 points. Damon Jones was also brought in to space the floor. The 29 year old averaged 11.6 points on 43.2% shooting from beyond the arc and 45.6% from the field the season before in Miami. Those numebrs dropped to 37.7% shooting and 6.7 points playing under Lebron, however. The largest disappointment though was Larry Hughes. Hughes was an all-defensive player who was coming off a year in which he averaged 22 points on 43% shooting. He had averaged 18.8 points the season prior to that. Yet he never averaged more than 15.5 points or 40.9% shooting in three seasons with Lebron. He was recently traded to the Chicago Bulls and saw a 4.1 point and a 4% leap in his field goal percentage in the seven games since the trade. It's way too early too make any determination on the impact of his latest shooter, Wally Szczerbiak, but it should be noted that in the six games since joining the Cavs he has seen his fielg goal percentage plummet by 13.6% and his three point percentage drop by 4.9%.

I don't want to hear how Lebron makes his teammates better ever again. There simply is no statistical analysis to support this. In fact, he seems to destroy the shooting stroke of the guys brought in to spread the floor for him. Oddly enough, the guy who for years the media has said does not make his teammates better, has indeed done a much better job.
Perhaps the best indication is Smush Parker. Smush bounced around from team to team for a couple of years, never having averaged more than 6.2 points or shot better than 41.9%. The previous season he averaged 3 points per game. Yet he averaged 11.5 and 11.1 in two years with Kobe, having career best numbers in both shooting and three point shooting in each of those seasons. He left to the Miami Heat thsi season, where he saw his average drop by 6.3 points, his shooting percentage by 12.1% and his three point shooting by 11.5%. Chris Mihm was a 45% shooter on his career, with a career high 48.8% from the field. Not only did he have career highs in scoring average during each of his first two seasons with the Lakers but he also shot above 50% in each of those seasons prior to his injury. Kwame Brown had never shot above 49% in his career, yet he shot 52.6% and 59.1% as a Laker. He was traded mid-season this year and since that trade he has seen his field goal percentage drop from 50.3% to 35.3%. The other big man in that trade, Pau Gasol has seen his field goal percentage raise from 50.1% in Memphis to a whopping 59% alongside of Kobe, as well as raising his scoring average by 1.8 per game. Gasol is a 51.1% career shooter who had never shot better than 53.8%. The third piece of that trade, Javaris Crittenton, has sene his shooting percentage drop from 49.1% to 38% since it was made. Another mid-season acquisition in Didier Ilunga-Mbenga has seen a similar rise. He shot 31.3% from the field last season, and 39.1% in 16 games with Golden State this year. He has shot 45.5% in 14 games with the Lakers. Derek Fisher's three years away from L.A. saw him shoot 39.3%, 41% and 38.2% from the floor. Since returning to the Lakers he has shot 44%. Laron Profit suffered a career ending injury in his first season as a Laker. In the 25 games prior to his injury though he shot 47.6%, his previous career high was 43.8% with two seasons under 40%. Jumaine Jones shot 39.1% from beyond the arc and 43.2% from teh floor playing alongside Kobe, after shooting 34.4% from teh floor and 29.5% from beyond the arc the season before. Since leaving he has never shot better than 40.5% from teh floor or 34.3% from long range. Chucky Atkins also had arguably his best season alongside of Kobe, scoring 13.6 per game while shooting 38.7% from beyond the arc. He hasn't matched either number since.

Lamar Odom has in the eyes of some struggled to co-exist with Kobe. In many ways this is true, as both guys like to have the ball in their hands. In reality though he had shot under 43.9% in each of his three previous seasons before joining Bryant, and never above 46% in his career. He has shot 47.3%, 48.1%, 46.8% and 50.4% in his four seasons with the Lakers. His scoring has dropped slightly, by a couple of points a game. The other odd case is Caron Butler. Caron became an all-star after being traded from the Lakers, and some might use that as justification that Kobe held him back. The reality though is that Caron averaged a career high in both points per game and in field goal percentage in his season with Kobe. His field goal percentage jumped 6.5% from the season before and was 2.9% higher than his previous career best.

In the end, there is plenty of evidence to support Kobe making his teammates better, but not much at all to support Lebron doing so. In fact the evidence would seem to point the opposite way. You can read into that what you will. But at the end of the day members of the media will soon determine who is the NBA's next MVP. It's a reasonably safe bet that the name on that trophy will be Lebron James and not Kobe Bryant. In the aftermath of that you will hear a lot of rhetoric and hyperbole about why they gave him the award. What I would like to see from those very same writers though is to address the things written here. Kobe has been among the best, if not the best player in the NBA for a very long time. Yet he has never won the trophy. At just 23 years of age, Lebron is going to have many chances to hang that trophy. Kobe Bryant is not. He has earned it by the very criteria that they set out. In a perfect world he would be the 2007-2008 MVP. In reality though, that is not likely to happen. Not because he hasn't earned it, but because too many of the people who have earned a vote simply do not like him.

by malimall30 Mar 12, 2008 1:29 PM
==========================================

this person said it all....but i'd like to add something to it.
some of the lakers players having career years this yr are: farmar, sasha, fish, bynum, ronny, and not to mention even gasol is having career #s since hes been traded to the lakers.

all the big names dat have been traded this yr are struggling with their new teams, except gasol. if james is so great at making others better then how come wally and ben haven't been able to find their old groves?

btw: everyone should post this on every nba blog so ppl can see the facts and not some stupid opinions. im personally emailing this to all the espn, si and foxsports "pundits".

KOBE FOR MVP!!!!!


Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



Categories


Archives
 

About the Bloggers


Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:


In Case You Missed It...