Lakers 114, Memphis 98: Kobe Bryant dominates the post
Gave myself a nice shave of the dome before heading to the arena tonight. With a machete and some Barbasol, far as you know.
More breakdown below.
I talked about Kobe's performance above, and will have more on it tomorrow. I'm not kidding when I say it was among the more remarkable I've seen from him. This on a night where he became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 24,000 points, moved into 16th place on the all-time scoring list, and notched his 99th game of his career with 40 or more points. Dude's been prolific, but there was something particularly evolved about what he did to the Grizzlies Friday evening.
The stat was in the video, but it's worth repeating: Six times Kobe has scored 40-plus without making a three. This is the first time Kobe has ever cleared 40 without attempting a three pointer. Nor did he live at the line, making only three from the stripe in four tries.
I asked Ron Artest, who has seen and defended a player or two, if there's a guard that can go to the post with the effectiveness of Kobe. "Not that I know of. Maybe a few, but they don't the fundamentals. He's got all the fundamentals. Fundamentals and focus." To say the least. And they give him a decided advantage against opponents over that part of the floor. "A lot of (guards) don't really know how to guard the post," Bryant said after the game. They don't get much practice, either. "I might be pretty much the only guard right now in the league right now that posts that much."
Don't expect Kobe to leave the post anytime soon.
More good stuff:
-Ron Artest: 19 points, six boards, seven assists. He hit three of his five three pointers. Again, Phil Jackson gave him time with the reserves, putting Artest in a position where he had to both be aggressive as a scorer but also as a facilitator. He was particularly effective working at the elbow, making crisp and purposeful passes that helped push the bench to its best game of the season.
-DJ Mbenga: Nine rebounds in the first nine minutes of the game, 13 overall, along with four blocks. Sure, he was 2-7 from the floor, but overall Mbenga was a force over his 29:39 of burn. In the absence of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, he gave the Lakers a lift.
-Other guys: 13 points for Josh Powell, who has officially extended his range beyond the three point line, along with five boards. He struggled at times to match up with Zach Randolph, but that is to a large degree to be expected. Powell, like Mbenga, has his limitations (though shooting isn't one of them in the early stages of the season), but like Mbenga is as solid a player for his spot in the rotation as you're likely to find across the league. He's a nice luxury for a top shelf team like the Lakers. Luke Walton finished with seven boards and seven assists. Jordan Farmar hit two of his three triples, Derek Fisher four of his seven shots to go with seven assists. Overall the Lakers had 35 helps on 48 makes, a great ratio, especially when combined with only eight turnovers. That's some slick passing. Granted, the Grizzlies are among the worst defensive teams I've ever seen, but that's not really the point. Overall, on a night where the Lakers needed other players to contribute, they got all that and more.
Kobe, on his night, working in the post, and the career achievements that came with it:
Artest, on fitting in, Kobe's game, and the win:
Phil Jackson, on Kobe's game, Josh Powell, DJ Mbenga, and Andrew Bynum:
More to come tomorrow.