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Lakers' teamwork evident on numerous plays in 96-81 victory over Utah Jazz

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It's likely Lakers fans have often heard or read buzzwords such as "teamwork," "collective effort" and "balance" to describe how the team has managed to survive this last week without guard Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) and center Andrew Bynum (sore right hip) in the lineup.

Feel free to run a count on how many times I've written those words, because I know they've circled in my head numerous times while the Lakers (40-13) have reeled off three consecutive victories, their latest being a 96-81 win Wednesday over the Utah Jazz

It remains unclear whether Bryant will play Sunday in the NBA All-Star game. It's also uncertain when Bynum will return, after recently telling reporters he may get a cortisone shot to treat his hip after the All-Star break.

Regardless of whether they will have to hold the fort without two of their starters, the Lakers have provided a model these last three games that the team can follow going forward. It's nothing groundbreaking. They simply have been executing the triangle offense and sticking to basic defensive principles, resulting with the team feeling pretty good about itself during the All-Star break. 

Though the Lakers had actually gotten off to slow starts against Portland and San Antonio before pulling away, they displayed a balanced effort the entire game against Utah. The execution mostly went well from start to finish. Below is a breakdown on how the Lakers pulled that off (after the jump). 

First quarter, 12:00 - 11:45

The Lakers displayed their teamwork from the opening tip. Forward Pau Gasol's tip went to the Lakers' backcourt near Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko. But Lakers guard Derek Fisher quickly took the ball out of Kirlenko's hands and then passed to forward Lamar Odom to direct the offense up top. After Gasol set a high screen on forward Carlos Boozer and rolled inside, Odom drove to the left, recognized center Mehmet Okur was confronting on helpside and passed to Gasol inside for the easy lay-in and a 2-0 lead.

First quarter, 11:24 - 11:19

On a give-and-go, Lakers forward Ron Artest connected with Fisher just above the free-throw line. With Boozer trailing Fisher, Okur and Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer moved up from the paint. Before being locked into a double-team, Fisher kicked the ball out to a wide-open Shannon Brown, who sank a three-pointer for a 5-2 lead.

First quarter, 9:00 - 8:49

Brown's pull-up 20-foot jumper over Brewer hit off the front rim, but Odom grabbed the rebound. He took a quick dribble, weaved through Boozer and Utah guard Deron Williams and drew a foul on his successful left-handed bank shot. After converting on the three-point play, the Lakers held a 12-8 lead.

First quarter, 7:42 - 7:39

With Odom directing the offense up top, Gasol set a screen on Boozer. But rather than allowing Gasol to roll off the screen, Boozer locked him in on a double-team with Okur. He then moved up toward the perimeter, but it was too late. Odom immediately drove through the lane for the authoritative left-handed slam, drawing a foul on Okur. The three-point play gave the Lakers a 15-10 edge.

First quarter, 6:30 - 6:18

After Brown's entry past to Gasol on the near post, Brown flashed to the basket, Brewer followed him toward the paint and pushed him out toward the far wing. Gasol's post-up on Okur immediately drew a double-team from Brewer, but Brown quickly slashed from the far wing to the basket along the near baseline. Gasol found Brown open for the right-handed layup, giving the Lakers a 17-12 lead.

First quarter, 6:11 - 5:50.

The shot clock was winding down, and the Lakers played tight man-to-man defense. But for a slight moment, Artest left Brewer open on a back-door cut. But Gasol deflected Boozer's pass from the top of the left block, Artest saved the ball and Brewer was forced to shoot a highly contested 20-foot shot over Artest from the nearside as the shot clock expired.

First quarter, 1:07 - 1:00

After Boozer set a screen on Brown by the left block, Brown curled around and prevented Utah forward C.J. Miles from cutting inside. Miles' bounce pass to Boozer was quickly intercepted by Gasol, who led a three-on-one break with reserve guard Jordan Farmar running on the far end and Brown running on the near end. Gasol made a well-placed bounce pass just above the free-throw line extended, where Brown picked up the ball and added another one-handed slam that will surely be documented at LetShannonDunk.com. The play also gave the Lakers a 23-18 lead.

First quarter, :38 - :27.9

Boozer's drive to the lane was immediately blocked by Gasol, and the ball landed in Odom's hands. He then ran a three-on-two break and found Brown on the left wing. Brown then one-timed it to Gasol on the other end for an alley-oop lay-in and a 28-18 Lakers lead.

First quarter :8.4 - :00

Brewer's inbounds pass to Boozer resulted in a give-and-go to Brewer, who tried attacking the near baseline. But Gasol and Brown moved to cut his penetration while Lakers reserve guard Sasha Vujacic surrounded him from behind to limit his options. Nonetheless, Brewer managed to drive the lane, but Gasol blocked his shot. Gasol then pushed the ball to Vujacic, who went past the timeline and found an open Farmar on the nearside for a 27-foot three-pointer as time expired. The Lakers led 31-18 after the first quarter, thanks a 12-0 lead in the final 2:15.

Second quarter, 11:30 - 11:22

Though Brown's three-pointer from the top of the key fell short, Lakers forward Josh Powell grabbed the rebound and kicked it out to Farmar on the nearside. After Farmar pointed Gasol to the near post in the paint, Gasol caught the entry pass, drew a double-team from Kirilenko and Utah forward Paul Millsap. Gasol found Powell wide open along the near wing, and he nailed the open J for a 33-20 lead.

Second quarter, 10:12 - 9:57

Williams briefly lost a handle of the ball from a pesky Farmar, but he quickly connected with Jazz guard Wesley Matthews on the near baseline. Powell blocked Matthews' shot, which went off the backboard and landed in Vujacic's hands. He sprinted down the end of the court, almost went in for a left-handed layup but made a quick pass to avoid Kirilenko swatting the ball away. Gasol picked up the ball and slammed it home for the 35-24 lead.

Second quarter, 8:47 - 8:32

Vujacic stole the ball from Miles by the three-point line, ran the break and made a behind-the-back pass to Lakers forward D.J. Mbenga for the one-handed dunk and a 42-26 lead. That marked Vujacic's fourth assist in only five minutes of play.

Second quarter, 6:07 - 5:59

Williams tried connecting with Miles on a back-door cut, but Vujacic grabbed the pass. As Vujacic dribbled up court, Williams jumped at him, but Vujacic made a bounce pass around Williams to Farmar just past the timeline. In a three-on-one break, Farmar dished off to Mbenga at the free-throw line. Mbenga handled it from there, capping the break with a two-handed jam for a 46-32 lead. That play marked Vujacic's third steal.

Second quarter, 2:14 - 2:07

Fisher fed the far post to Artest, who spun around Millsap for the left-handed layup, giving the Lakers a 54-38 lead.

Third quarter, 5:47 - 5:12

After tying up Fisher and causing a turnover, Williams tried leading a break, but Brown, Odom and Gasol were all back in time defensively to stop any transition points. Williams picked up his dribble just past the free-throw line and kicked the ball back out to Kirilenko, who quickly passed it back to Williams up top to set up the half-court offense. Kirilenko was open on the near side of the three-point line, but his shot rimmed out and Gasol grabbed the board. Moments later, Fisher set up Gasol in the post. After drawing a double-team from Okur and Brewer, Gasol saw Brown flash toward the free-throw line. After receiving Gasol's pass, Brown weaved through Kirilenko and Brewer for the one-handed dunk, increasing the Lakers' lead to 65-47.

Third quarter, 3:22 - 3:18

This play was perfectly set in the triangle offense, with Gasol on the near post, Brown on the near block, Odom on the far post, Vujacic on the far side of the perimeter and Fisher at the top of the key. After Odom passed to Fisher at the top of the key, Odom cut right to the far post to get positioning over Millsap. As soon as the cut was made, Fisher passed the ball to Vujacic on the far end. Vujacic then fed an entry past to Odom, who cut left, spun right, drew a foul on his successful layup and completed the three-point play. The sequence gave the Lakers a 70-51 lead.

Third quarter, 1:39 - 1:30

After Farmar fed Gasol on the far post, he cut toward the free-throw line and then backed outside the perimeter. Meanwhile, Kirilenko and Miles doubled on Gasol, who quickly dished it out to Brown at the top of the key. Brown's original man was Miles, so Jordan's original man (Ronnie Price) stepped up toward Brown. That left Farmar with a wide-open 26-foot three-pointer, giving the Lakers a 76-55 advantage.

Fourth quarter, 8:27 - 8:20

After Price passed to Matthews outside the perimeter along the near side, Price "flexed" and cut toward the right block and then slashed to the basket with Farmar trailing. Matthews fed a bounce pass inside to Matthews, but Jordan quickly recovered while Powell and Odom moved toward the paint. Matthews thought he had a clear shot at the basket. But as he went up, Odom swiped the ball away.

Fourth quarter, 4:00 - 3:54

With Artest handling the ball up top, Farmar penetrated the wing and curled around Odom on the far side. Artest fed Farmar, who quickly slashed to the basket for the left-handed layup, giving the Lakers a 90-74 lead.

What this means

Though Gasol and Odom specifically showed more initiative during these last three games, much of the Lakers' offensive production revolved around properly executing the triangle. And the fact you're reading lots of names from the Lakers roster clearly indicates that many were involved with the ball movement and court penetration. 

Some Lakers fans are reading Gasol's simple explanation that the team is properly running the offense as an indirect jab at Bryant. It isn't. The aforementioned plays indicate Gasol is just observing the reality. 

The triangle offense is simply based on proper cutting, spacing and reading of the defense, and it's best executed when there's constant movement and the team shows an ability to switch positions. When you match that description to many of the offensive plays above, it's obvious to any fan that the Lakers are just following the fundamentals. And as far as the defensive efforts go, most of those plays came down to communication and covering for each other. 

It's not flashy, but it works.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Pau Gasol finished with 22 points, going 10 for 15 from the field, and added 19 rebounds to help the Lakers overcome the absence of Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum for a 96-81 victory over the Jazz on Wednesday. Credit: Steve C Wilson / Associated Press

 
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maybe, let's just say maybe pau will be the next team captain for next year.

If Kobe had sat out the Denver game and the Lakers had won big, wouldn't all the Kobe-lovers be saying "But they didn't have Carmelo!"

Funny how Boston was a big win, even though they're old as all get-out and playing awful.... but a much more impressive San Antonio win is dismissed.

Funny how Lakers (w/Kobe) go down at home against an injured Denver team....but a big victory against an injured Portland team is dismissed.

Funny how Cleveland kills us on the final game of a tough (Dallas, Phoenix, Sacramento, Lakers) 4-game/6-day road trip, but when we beat Utah the night after a Clippers game in which only 1 player went over 33 minutes, Utah was "too tired."


Why do so many people make excuses now that Kobe is gone, instead of celebrating how good the Lakers have been without him? Are you Laker fans or Kobe fans?

bump...the edited version...

Game notes...

The Lakers played a near perfect first quarter, 31-18. They played good team defense and as a consequence got a number of steals, which they turned into several textbook fast-breaks.

The prettiest break was led by Pau, who picked of a pass at the top of the key, dribbled down the court to the opposite FT line, bounce passed to Brown on the right wing who immediately lobbed the ball to LO swooping in just to the left of the rim, from where he dropped in a short lay-up off the glass. A thing of beauty is a joy to behold!

Dirk’s got nothin’ on Pau. I’m with Pop, Pau’s the most skilled big man in the league right now and he’s starting to look like his dead-leg phase is behind him. He should be a serious force down the regular season home stretch.

The whole thing ended with a Farmar three-pointer at the buzzer. LO had 10/5 in the quarter and everyone played effectively. Utah had four TOs in the final minute of the quarter and the Lakers had a lot to do with that with their defensive pressure.

Three minutes into the second quarter the Utah Jazz TV commentator says, “The Lakers team defense is just tremendous right now.” This dude obviously knows what he’s talking about.

Sasha picks off a pass on the left point, dribbles rather haltingly straight down that side of the court and when he’s about ten feet out wraps a behind the back pass to DJ streaking down the lane for a wind-up dunk. It looks like everyone’s gonna join in the fun tonight, but no Jerry Sloan coached team is going to stop playing hard this early in the game. The Lakers are going to have to keep up this level of effort and focus for the entire game if they want to finish them off. The sense of urgency is palpable.

DJ gets rewarded again for running the floor with a second fast-break dunk. Fish comes back in and Deron Williams immediately penetrates straight down the lane for an uncontested lay-up. Coincidence? Not likely.

The Jazz FSN crew is too numerous to count, or to keep track of who’s who when they’re talking. As the game began, they were talking about how Deron Williams should be able to take advantage of Fish, “he’s just not at a point in his career where he can keep Deron in front of him.” But then, there still seems to be a lot of pent up resentment in Utah for Fish and the circumstances and consequences of his departure.

I always thought that Fish played Williams as tough as anyone. After all, he mentored him for a year so he should know the guy’s game intimately. I think my memories have a closer relationship to what’s actually happened in the game so far, as Deron Williams has not been big factor in the first half and his blow-by of a fresh off the pine Fish seems to be the exception tonight rather than the rule.

The Jazz announcing team is starting to make excuses for them, they’re coming off a back-to-back last night against the Clips, tired legs, etc. You know the drill. Excuses are for losers, there’s no need for them when you’re winning.

Halftime, Lakers 56-41 and it’s looking good. Pau’s got 12/12/3/3 at the half, LO got 13 points, Farmar 10 and Brown 9. The Jazz have eight TOs leading to 11 Laker points.

The third quarter starts out pretty evenly, which is good for the Lakers since they’re still up by double digits. LO has made a number of thoughtless TOs tonight and missed a long two that he probably shouldn’t have taken. Still, he’s been effective on the boards, as per usual, and he’s putting some points up.

The Jazz are 7-19 from the FT line four minutes into the third quarter, the Lakers are 6-6.

“That’s just great interior team defense” is another rousing compliment paid the Lakers from the Utah announcing crew. And another, “You can make the argument that the Lakers are just as good with Kobe Bryant as without.” Wow, that dude better not show up on the Lakers blog!

“He might have popcorn in his mouth” after Shannon Brown jumps into the front row, landed on some fans and spilled their drinks. These guys are starting to grow on me.

You can almost feel the Lakers’ comradery through the airwaves, all the way from Utah. The third quarter ends with the Lakers up by 19, 76-57, they’ve won every quarter so far and just need to keep from falling apart completely in the fourth. Pau has 17 rebounds LO has 11, while the Lakers as a team have 36.

Sasha jukes a technical foul on Ronny Price out of the refs before the clock even starts ticking on the fourth quarter and the Lakers still get to inbound the ball after he makes a FT.

Okur is having a nightmare of a game for the Jazz and he just passed the ball into the crowd for another Utah TO. Farmar immediately returns the favor with a lazy pass on the point that is picked off and converted into Utah’s sixth straight point at the beginning of the quarter.

The Jazz are finally making their run. The lead is down to 12 at the seven minute mark. Farmar then hits his fourth three-pointer of the game, the crew calls it “a dagger” and it is. I really don’t expect the lead to be reduce to single-digits again at this point, where it hasn’t been since the first quarter, but we’ll see if the Lakers can close this thing out efficiently.

The crew closes out the game by praising the Lakers profusely some more. They’ve nominated Pau for the NBA player of the week award by consensus. I’ve gotta hand it to these guys, they’re graceful losers, which is more than I could ever say about myself. Things are getting a little sloppy here near the end but I don’t think the outcome’s in doubt anymore.

The final score is 96-81 Lakers, another dominating performance. Pau 22/19, which is two games in a row with 19 boards and 5 blocks, LO 25/11 with 7-9 FG and 11-12 FT, and Farmar 18 points and 4-4 on 3s. Freakin’ magical!


Hopefully last nite should wake up some doubters about Jordan Farmar's talent. He has potential to be among the best PG's in the league.

Trade Farmar for Kirk Hinrich? Please.

Kirk Hinrich gets roasted by quick guards.
Bulls pairing Farmar with Derrick Rose would be a major upgrade.

Hinrich or D. Fish guarding Aaron Brooks, Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Mike Conley? Ouch!

Jordan is improving which happens when you are 23. Every trade mentioned in this blog for an old head. Lakers don't want to become like Celtics and Spurs with 30 somethings.

D. Fish does suck. Yes, he is a veteran who has come through in the past...
So is Robert Horry, but we don't want him either!


SPeed and flow.

Lakers won a ring with it, tried a "we're bigger than you are" approach and now, thankfully, it's back.

What have we learned? Pass the ball to Pau and cut. Let Lamar do what other guys his size can't. Work the triangle, it works for you.

Kobe knows how to flow with this. And he will. He likes winning just like us.
Happy all star break, all.

MM,

you wrote: Some Lakers fans are reading Gasol's simple explanation that the team is properly running the offense as an indirect jab at Bryant. It isn't. The aforementioned plays indicate Gasol is just observing the reality.

my response: Actually, I disagree given Gasol's comment about touches.
However, I'll ask you a question.

If what you're seeing is the properly running offense, then why weren't guys
utilizing "proper cutting, spacing and reading of the defense, and it's best executed when there's constant movement and the team shows an ability to switch positions." earlier?

My wife, a non-athlete, was noticing how much harder the Lakers have been
playing without Kobe. Noticing Odom going to the rim instead of clanking
long range jump shots. The improved hustle is "NOTICEABLE'!

Let's face it people, kobe is not that good!. We hear all the analysts saying how great he is but their job is not to tells us viewers the truth but givings us an incentive to watch (selling the commercial part of the game) and Kobe with his out of this world talent, flashiness and playing in LA for the Lakers is the perfect marketing weapon.

But all in all he similarly brings to the Lakers what McGrady brought to the Rockets: A streaky shooter who most often than not sabotages the game plan by not doing a good job running the offense, someone who seems more focused about individual stats and accolades than winning games the right way, someone who INTIMIDATES his teammates on offense with his angst to shoot and/or have the ball but perhaps worst of all someone who impairs the team's overall defense by not sticking to his man but hunting the ball in order to get the steal or the rebound. No wonder the lakers defense has looked like a impenetrable wall these last 3 games.

With the "good" Kobe the Lakers are awesome, but how often is he willing to sacrify his individual stats and decoration for the sake of the team? not very often for sure.

Someone might point out to his end of games miracles but those events most certainly wouldn't have needed to occur if he had stick to the game plan in the first place like they've been doing the last 3 games. It's not that they needed Kobe to beat a great team under an adverse situation: it was Miami at home, Milwaukee, Sacramento at home and a really bad Celtics team.

The Lakers are more dangerous playing with Kobe (that's a certainty) but most often than not they are not better. And Kobe, like other players who don't understand the word defense, doesn't comprehend the word EFFICIENCY. He's getting older and older his body is already breaking down but he's ego on the other hand seems on the rise. What about that non-sense of posting up and playing in the paint while 4 of your teams most important players need this area of the floor to be effective and contribute?. Jordan did it, but did the Bulls had any talented back to basket, post up or interior player? NO!!

The Lakers will never beat an excellent defensive team with a guy shooting 20+ shots a game and a low shooting percentage. That's exactly what happened against Detroit in 2004 and Boston in 2008. Cleveland's has a very good defense, and I don't see Kobe distributing within the offense and
playing good team ball while LeBron is getting MVPs, triple doubles and Shaq is close to surpassing him in rings.

Don't Worry Be Happy, as the song implies w/o Kob & Socks still won against the premier team in the West. Well, lately a group of posters teasing our very own lakerholics and the latter is reacting for every sarcasm. I guess by now we know wha we have to do. It is all pure entertainment because we have nothing to talk about, therefore try to make a mockery out of good news. Aren't we glad the 2nd team are contributing to the advancement of the Laker cause for "repeat". Why blame Kobe who has helped us in bad health and in bad times, he was there for the Lakers?

In the case of Bynum, I don't know what to say? A sore hip and gets into prolonged disability of 3 games plus cortisone injection. I have compared Drew similar to the California tall trees like the giant Sequioa's in Visalia or the Redwood trees in Willits. They stood with time, rain or shine still standing representing this proud state. Drew was our prized possession Center specially handpicked by the son of the owner, a stand out here the blog but my gosh a sore hip who was pushed a little bit by an aging Juwan Howard and fell down like a dead log. He got injured before after LO stepped his foot and then last year from Kobe's body hitting his knees. Drew will never be a sturdy player like our proud Sequioa tree, he is pale as a lemon tree. His scoreboard is 10-5 and 3 DNP. I don't think any trade will even suffice with our behemoth at this time, no team would take a young man with frail health, weak in defense and has low tolerance in overcoming pains.

LA Guy has a makes a great point --

Why do so many people make excuses now that Kobe is gone, instead of celebrating how good the Lakers have been without him?

Let's take it further.

Would Lakers have won if Kobe HAD NOT played against

Denver on Friday?

How about the Memphis game when Kobe scored 44 points
and set the Lakers career scoring record?

How about the first game in Portland this season where Kobe was 14-37?

How about the Cleveland games? Lakers got blown out with Kobe 23-64 from the field (11-33 game 1, 12- 31 game 2). Lakers could not have been worse without Kobe. Pau, Bynum, Farmar, Odom, Artest, Brown and Sasha could have made more happen with 64 additional shots.

What about games Kobe won at the end like Milwaukee, would Lakers have needed such heroics?

Kobe may have to decide if he wants championships or scoring records.


@ Todd.

Good morning man. Would you pull a Hinrich/Thomas for Morrison Bynum trade? Just curious.

Regrads

REPOST:
----------------------------------


hobbitmage,

Thank you for pointing out the obvious that all these Kobe/Bynum bashers have been conveniently glossing over. What we are seeing is the result of a bunch of high-paid grown men who have been spending more than half of a season coasting along and depending on Kobe to bail them out.

**RANT**
Why?

Because only Kobe came out of training camp ready to play, that's why. These guys have been dogging it since DAY ONE.

I was the guy who told the whole blog just how quick and athletic Farmar is when he first came to the Lakers. That was ME! So, while everyone else is wondering where he suddenly got all these "extra gears" that allow him to get to the rack with impunity, he's always had them. Why did FARMAR wait half a season to show up? His comments were a Freudian slip, I think. He just ratted himself out on that one.

What we are seeing is the degree to which these guys have been dogging it. Now, they are forced to play, or get embarrassed. What was Kobe to do? Tank the first few games of the season just to make everyone else step up?

That isn't Kobe. What he decided was to let the Mamba out. And on his back (until he got hurt, and even a few games into that period) he led the Lakers to the best record in the League.

We know Kobe can play with this team, and I'm getting SICK and TIRED of people continuing with the "IF Kobe can play with this NEW mindset" type of crap.

IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!!!!!!

Did anyone watch the playoffs last year?!?!?!

The question has never been "IF". The question has always been "WHEN". WAKE UP PEOPLE!

I have been saying for almost 50 games now that "WHEN" would be after the All-Star break. As it has always been EVERY SINGLE SEASON since PJ has been our coach. My, how soon we forget...

When are we seeing the newly resurgent Lakers "scrubs" as some are still calling them? Would this time of year not be the ALL STAR BREAK? Is this some sort of cosmic coincidence? Or will we not finally admit that this is going just as PJ has planned it, once again? Hmmmm.....

Maybe he actually earned those 10 rings. You think!?

Heck! You can set your watch to when Lamar plays like an All-World All-Star. It is ALWAYS in the games immediately following the announcement of the All-Star invitees. Every season, no matter what team he plays for. His entire career.

He will go down as the greatest player never to be an All-Star because of it.

Trust me.

The rest of the season, we are going to see this "New Kobe", which isn't the New Kobe at all, but the "OLD FREAKIN' KOBE"!!!

OKAY!?
**/RANT**

hobbitmage, you da' man. Keep the sanity coming.

--FEARless

again, the reason why people are hustling is because they actually believe they are going to touch the ball! LOL! It's not that hard to figure out, when Kobe is jacking up 30+ shots in a game, the guys quickly figure out THEY AIN'T TOUCHING THE BALL so why bother fighting for position to get it if it ain't gonna happen anyway? I'm not a Kobe basher, I think he's one of the greatest of all time, I just cannot comprehend why he started jacking up 30+ shots/game this year. Maybe he saw himself listed as the league's leading scorer and subconsciously wan't to stay there??? but he's taking a physical pounding jacking all those shots up when he could have tossed it to Gasol or Bynum and let them take some of that pounding... anyway...

- on the Kevin Ding article, I think it would be great for Bynum to come off the bench for the rest of the year. The 2nd unit will allow him to get more touches/minutes on the court and thus... he will get more involved and start punking whatever backup Center he is playing against, it would be a huge confidence booster for him...

The last 3 Laker games have been outstandng and teamwork is there for all to see. With Kobe in the mix the game control goes his way and his defense is awful. I like the Laker team on the floor now. Bynum who ?? He shold be trade bait and I would agree that Odom should take his starting job. Bynum has been in the NBA for what 5 years now. He should go back to the D-league for a couple of years and learn how to play basketball with the professionals. He has not played a year without some type of injury. Go Lakers !!

@ Todd.

Good morning man. Would you pull a Hinrich/Thomas for Morrison Bynum trade? Just curious.
------
NO way on that trade if I work for the Lakers.

Bulls pull the trigger in a heartbeat.
Bynum, Noah, Deng, Rose ....


I forget which season it was when Kobe sat out due to injuries during the 3peat years. After the team played well, Kobe came in play more team ball. I'm not so worried about that part.

It's Bynum's resilience that I'm worried about. We need him against Denver and Cleveland assuming the make it to the finals.

But the team does not need to watch Kobe Ball or Kobe needs to team it up either way.

Always cyclical for Pj's championship teams with the Lakers.

Like what the 01-02 team used to say in interviews come March. "We just have to run our offense." And then they went 15-1

Have a great day guys.

@ Todd. I meant Regards.

Another correction the 00-01 Team went 15-1

GASOL is an excellent player but he is no Kobe, will never be..

It is not in Gasol's DNA to be a TOP DOG and please don't try to be someone that you are not.

Gasol is perhaps the best team mate and maybe the greatest second bannana to lace up.

If I was Gasol I would embrace humility and not get too ahead of myself and yap when the Black Mamba is taking a breather.

If I was Gasol I would think back at the time when he joined the team and expressed how fortunate he was to be Kobe's team mate

If I was Gasol I would not poke my finger at Black Mamba's pit and not expect the Mamba to strike back with the deadliest venom.

If I was Gasol I would thank the Universe FOR giving me the ICE MAN, COLD BLOODED ASSASSIN TO DEFER TO take care of biz during the time WHEN IT REALLY COUNTS..

You hear that Elizabeth, I am coming to see you!!

hobbitimage - Your wife is definitely on point that hustle has a part to do with it. There were definitely times when Kobe was in the lineup where the chemistry and cohesion jelled magically. But there were often times where the team was passive/relied too much on Kobe, while Kobe himself felt compelled to take over. I believe it's a combination of both at fault, you can't excuse Kobe's high shot selection when his percentage was down. In some cases, the team bailed him out, sometimes it didn't. But you can't expect Kobe to pass more when he has a hot hand such as against Memphis, while his teammates were being passive. So it's a combination of the two, and the who-to-blame conundrum really rests on a game-by-game basis.

I think that frustrations really got the best of Gasol after the Memphis game and I don't necessarily think that that was the lone game where he was frustrated, but it kind of spilled out that way after the game. If you read and listen Gasol's comments in totality the day after practice, he makes it very clear that the post players (Bynum and Gasol) are also responsible so he has taken ownership of the responsibility. The team has made it very clear, when you look at the comments in full, that this is a team problem, not a Pau problem or a Kobe problem.

I hope that answers your question. Thanks for your interest man.

MM

MM,
really appreciate you breaking down plays and bringing out important points in these cogent pieces you keep posting regularly..do you think Kobe's presence keeps players like Farmar and LO from being the best they can be...? I mean it can't all be because of their own attitude of "sitting back and watching" that they don't do so well when he is around...who wouldn't want to shine if given the chance ? and it isn't even the effect of everyone stepping up in his absence alone...quite a few seem to be performing a lot better and having fun while they are at it...Kobe's talent is supreme and skills indispensable to this team but does stifle the offense by making it one-dimensional...players don't get the opportunities they should be getting and they sometimes end up receiving flak for being "lethargic/lacking motivation/useless" ...Brian Shaw and a couple others on the coaching staff pointed this out ( selfish tendencies in Kobe's game) themselves last year...i love the teamwork and the efficacy and beauty it lends to the game..hope Kobe makes some changes himself so as to not revert to his old ways....do you think PJ (or anyone else for that matter ) can get Kobe to channel his lethal skills in better ways now ? He has got to see that this isn't just "his team"...

I'm not a Kobe basher, I think he's one of the greatest of all time, I just cannot comprehend why he started jacking up 30+ shots/game this year. Maybe he saw himself listed as the league's leading scorer and subconsciously wan't to stay there??? but he's taking a physical pounding jacking all those shots up when he could have tossed it to Gasol or Bynum and let them take some of that pounding... anyway...
...
Posted by: Kwaminus I can teach you, but I have to charge Brownicus | February 11, 2010 at 09:57 AM

--
With the uncertainty that looms when the current CBA expires in 2011, there is a high probability that Kobe will opt out of his 2010-2011 contract. So effectively, this is his 'contract year' and, thus, his 30+ shot attempts per game.

It is possible that his uber-agent Rob Pelinka (oh no, here we go again with these evil high-powered agents) is the one who is pushing KB to demonstrate his 'durability' despite his injuries. This is obviously to convince Jerry Buss that he is a safe, long-term investment and worthy of an expensive contract extension.

I for one am a Lakers fan not a Kobe fan for sure!
And I think many more see it now that without him ($30M/yr), we can have a more solid team for a long time.

Go Lakers (w/o KB)

I am conflicted on the Kobe issue. I do beleive that his mates haven't played up to their potential until Kobe sat out. Maybe it is because they felt Kobe was hogging the rock, or maybe because they were out of shape. On the other hand, Kobe was tired of waiting for the rest of the guys to focus and match his level.
I agree with "Kwaminus" that Bynum needs to come off the bench. So many of us have been saying this all year. He needs to come off the bench or even better- trade him for a backup big man who will hustle and a dependable 3 point shooting guard who can also play D.
When Kobe comes back, I beleive he will facilitate more and the Lakers will run off 10 in a row.
Odom still is the key to this team- when he plays well, we are unstoppable. I was so glad that I didn't have to yell at him through my T.V. for shooting too many threes. When he is agressive and takes it to the rack, great things happen.
The Repeat is back on track!

Can we trade Bynum to Golden State for Turiaf and a draft pick? GS would get a true big man and we would get an active rebounder/defender that also knows the triangle. We'd also probably get a lottery pick given that it is Golden State.

I like Bynum but he is not really a good fit for this team. I also don't see him getting much better than what he already is. The Gasol/Odom/Artest front line is so much more cerebral and cohesive than the Bynum front line. Lastly, for a 7 footer, he's not as intimidating a defensive presence as you'd expect. It's been a common occurence for opposing guards to drive and score right over Bynum time and time again.

This scrub surge is very admirable but let's get a grip here people!

Let's just keep it real here for a second.. Just how far do u think a kobeless laker team can go during the course of a whole season? #1,2, or 3 playoff seed? haha.. I'd bet a lot of these fickleminded spur of the moment bloggers would say western conference champions when they're probably no better than a #8 playoff seed at best.

This blog needs to wake the hell up and smell the frappuccino... Anybody with any nerve to spew any lakers are better without kobe garbage got their heads so far up the ASS of kobe hating media crusade its not even funny.

And congrats to our beloved luuuuuuke.. Scrubs are peaking at an all time high and luke is ironically nowhere to be seen.. Hasn't contributed a damn lick except missed open jumpers and bad turnovers.. Its so funny cause phil is tryin so hard to incorporate luke in this recent surge so he doesn't feel left out.. Kinda like holding up the group till the one slow handicap student can catch up with the whole class..


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA:


LakerTom would love to hear your view on icelaker's comment on:

icelaker wrote: "Can we trade Bynum to Golden State for Turiaf and a draft pick? "

Glad you enlightened that last note on Pau NOT having a go at Kobe, MM.

I keep repeating this but people either cannot read, or cannot understand.

I let a question mark floating up there, for trying to be kind (and I am not in the mood, cos my day has been ruined by Alexande McQueen's death. I had the pleasure of meeting the talented man a couple of times while living in London and truly, I am sad and shocked. Awful day. Awful.)

I also try to guess if people here actually understand what the triangle is, and why it work especially for the Lakers, given the incredible amount of talent that we have at our disposal.

I rarely hear the technical chronicles over there mentioning about it, while every comment in Italy enlightens that often (well, the ones that I llove the most).

Quite simply, teh triangle is fast strategy applied at a running game. It takes first a perfect skill, then a perfect shape (i.e. reactivity and game foresight) and then dedication.

And before any of us Kobe bashers start to blab: Kobe is THE excellent executor of the triangle in this team. Until Pau didn't joied him, Kobe was alone getting deep in there, and then he was feeling castrated in his options. After Pau joined, given his natural ability and ENORMOUS QI, our game stepped up. So... Kobe not only knows the triangle, but he's the natural focus of it not because he's "ball hog" but because his QI is the highest and thereforehis triangle is the best input.

The triangle is, both defensively and offensively, a sort of choice book: you have to fastly read the positions on court at any moment, and then, depending on the list of positions studied, you have to check options: if option 1 is impossible, you go with option 2, and then 3, 4, 5... generally Lakers have a maximum of 8 scratches. But it can variate.

It goes easily to teckon to play the triangle at our levelis all but easy. But once you get in the flow, it's simply undefendable in the attack phase, and difficult to overcome for the adversaries in the defensive one.

I started to say that Lakers had no flow before Xmas game. And when I was writing that, I was easily also tipping the triangle as uneffective.

That was NOT Kobe's fault, cos he was the only one keeping being efficaciously attempting the triangle optionability stages. But he had little collaboartion. Hence the trials to solve the game differently (cos he can, being the ultimate monstrous player he is). Look: he tried the saviour mode cos the triangle was NOT AVAILABLE and it was not available due to his teammates low flow (those combined factors mentioned above: skill, shape, reactivity, foresight, quickness and dedication, which can also be considered lucidity derived from a good respondance from the way your mind command your body which is in up shape moment).

If people would actually get and understand triangle dynamics, they would probably understand better why at certain point of a season the Saviour Mode is more a further option we are lucky to have, rather than a selfish attempt by Kobe of stealing the scene.

But I know it takes effort and too much time to try to be serious about decoding Lakers games, and it's way funnier to bash our best player, just for the sake of it (irony, sarcasm, bitterness... you chose what this last sentence was more informed with...).

Triangle is also one of the reasons why lots of teh name mentioned for a trade wouldn't work at all in our system. And btw, we are absolutely NOT in need of a trade at all.

We are by far the best team, and all we need is just to be healthy.

The health factor is our ONLY competitor this year.
And one of the reasons I hope Kobe bails out from the ASG, and Pau plays as little as possible.

To end, I leave you with a funny note about teh latest game as enlightened by the two speakers here (they love the Lakers, and have a peculiar humourism that not everybody is educated enough to get...):

"So, Kobe is out, but strabgely Ron Artest seems playing better after his absence..."

"It's not really that: it's that his shoes have been remodeled..."

"Maybe there's also another factor: he doesn't have to follow "Radio Bryant" for the whole game trying to explain and ask to him all possible triangle options... he hides from that duty better..."

"Yeah... can you imagine his voice all the game, going into Ron's ear like a mantra: "how could you not see you had to move this way and not that?".. "Ron, that was not it!"..."Ron, you have done this already at College!"..."

"Hard to explain to someone like Bryant that there's a difference between the triangle played in Englewood and the one out from ten years of Lakers practice..."

"But Kobe is the King Master Mind of Triangle...he would be good even after one month in Englewood with it..."

"Which is why Ron Artest keeps practice and doesn't go nuts about Radio Bryant inputs, after all. Because he's flattered that he takes time and effort to mock him on court constantly about it, making him learn."

THIS IS.

The magic of Triangle.

Lakers force and resource.

And the best thing we can see in the world when it's about playing basketball.

Too bad many just don't get this.

Too bad.

hobbitmage and FEARless

Great post guys........it's nice to see somebody is THINKING. The obvious answer so the Lakers surge is oh yeah the triangle but after closer observation how does running the triangle explain Gasol getting 19 rebounds? How does it explain Lamar's aggressiveness? How does it explain Phil being animated on the bench AND CALLING TIMEOUTS?

How does it explain Gasol and Lamar not showing up in either Cleveland game? How does it explain Gasol wimping out in Cleveland and Sacramento and missing those freethrows.....TWICE! Is that Kobe's fault too

I won't mention that I think at times Phil Jackson is a master manipulator and has a history of dividing teams using the old "us against them".......has he done that with this ball club with Kobe? Maybe he has who knows but we do know he has this history.......a history that prompted Jerry Kraus to tell Phil "I don't care if you go 82-0......you're f$%^ing gone"! Krause did that after Phil effectively divided that team from it's architect......and the guy who put that team together and gave him the job..........but as I said......I won't mention that.


What Phil may have "stumbled" on is a need for Odom to start games with that same energy and to increase Shannon's minutes along with reducing Fish's since this gives us our best DEFENSIVE unit.........I know with the obsession of the triangle and "team balance" we forget that defense and rebounds win championships and maybe Phil will do a better job at focusing on the defensive end of the floor and pushing the right buttons........in other words "coaching".

And oh yeah.....keeping Luke Walton off the floor for the remainder of his 99 year contract

Hey guys a new post is up
MM

Snake, I disagree. I don't think there's any doubt Buss and crew pretty much laid down a blank page and said, "fill in your contract desires". Kobe knows he can get whatever he wants in contract talks but he and his agent are trying to figure out what works out as the best deal considering the NBA contract negotiations, etc. The only thing that makes sense as far as shot selection is that Kobe is so darn competitive, that with Gasol out at the beginning of the year it allowed Kobe to be in the league leaders in scoring and when Pau came back, maybe... ??? Kobe subconsciously wanted to continue to see his name among the league leaders in scoring? Kobe's a smart guy, it doesn't make any sense to freeze out his teammates when he's trying to win at least TWO more championships, not one but 2, if you are looking at it from his standpoint of his own legacy...

Todd,

I agree with you about Kirk Hinrich. I've never understood the love affair so many have with him. He's pretty decent, but no better than Jordan Farmar.


I see that the Bynum Bashers are out in full force after a couple DNP's. Here's my message to the Bynum Bashers:

Lay off the Big Fella!

Andrew Bynum has a set of skills that nobody in this league can match, and he's only 22 years old. He was nearly an all star this year, at 22! He's playing on a team that won the championship last year! He was a vital part of that championship.

What more do you want? He plays the most sought after position in the game and excels at it. He's young, he's athletic, he's coordinated, he's money around the rim, he defends the paint and blocks shots, he hits free throws, he's smart, he's a fast learner, Kareem is his mentor, he's still learning the game.

Who, besides Dwight Howard, would be a better option at the C than Andrew Bynum?

Lamar should not start on this team. Pau Gasol is not a C, Lamar is not a C, Andrew Bynum is a C. That's why he should start.

Depending on matchups, Lamar should finish the game though.

Go Lakers!

Personally, I think Kobe never should have tried to play through the ankle injury. It limited him and made him ineffective to the detriment of the team. Rather than rely on his teammates he took on a shooter's mentality (i.e. I'm going to shoot this darn rock until it starts falling despite the fact he was getting no push on his ankle). He also was severely limited defensively, allowing the other team to take advantage of his injured ankle. I think Kobe ultimately realized this and sat himself down for the betterment of the team. The lakers are of course better with Kobe than without, but with the caveat that Kobe's healthy. Lest we forget, when Kobe was "healthy" the Lakers ran out to the best record in the league. Like Phil said, Kobe's the "x-factor" that pushes this team over the top. With him, we win championships, without him, we can get some impressive wins but we are NOT going to beat cleveland or denver in a seven game series.

Bynum is a different story. For whatever reason he's just not a good fit with Gasol on the floor. He has an impressive performance one night and the next night he puts up a stat line of 8 points and 2 rebounds. When you're 7'+ and a starter, you should always have at least more than 8 boards. When Gasol's out, he puts together his most impressive numbers of the season. Also, when Bynum's in, I think Pau puts a conscious effort forth to sublimate his own game to try and get Bynum going. This is not helpful. I don't think we should trade Bynum at this point unless we can get someone unbelievable for him, but I do think he might be better coming off the bench and allowing Pau and Lamar to try and keep this thing they got going, going. I honestly believe that with a healthy Kobe and w/o Bynum, the Lakers would have still won these past three games, but that with a healthy Bynum and w/o Kobe, the Lakers would have lost at least 2 of the 3 games because he would have been in there mucking things up. Just my 2 cents.

"Lakers' strong play without Kobe Bryant fuels the notion that LeBron James is the NBA's MVP."

Whew, what better compliment could you give the the rest of the Lakers than that! I dont think that article was an attempt to diss Kobe (was it?), I mean, its still a very nice compliment to the rest of the team.

Ok now Labron, you need to take a week or 2 off so we can see how those Cavs do without you.

You know why the Lakers is winning against top caliber teams convincingly? It's because Kobe and Bynum is not playing because of injury. When Bryant plays the word "teamwork" is lost, because he usually "hogs" the ball and he tends to get out of the triange offense concept playing more "one on one" and letting his teammates watch his superb moves. Collective efforts by the players is gone too because of the mentality that Kobe will just do eveything for them to win. It's just like why will I exert too much effort, anyway Kobe is here to save us. As for Bynum the term "chemistry" is the term lost when he plays. We went to the finals two years ago without him, and we won the championship last year with Andrew as a non-factor at all. That only implies that the combination of Lamar and Pau is much much better than the combo of Bynum and Gasol.
I know we will never win any championship without a "superstar" in our line-up but this only shows that Kobe is not really the most valuable player because we can be competitive without him.

@Zaira - You make a few decent points but you are plain misguided in your notion of "Kobe can do no wrong". As for the people you call Kobe bashers..well..they aren't many who flay Kobe just for the sake of it and totally understand his unmatched skills and value to the team. What you have detailed about the triangle isn't something very intricate and is known to most fans who are interested in X's and Os. As I mentioned before, even the coaching staff (Brian Shaw last year ) has openly admitted that Kobe does regress into selfish tendencies every now and then despite his high basketball IQ. You can go on thinking that people who say those things "just don't get it" but I would give more credence to the words of former players/coaches than ,say, yours. Now, I would be a fool if I don't understand what an amazing player Kobe is and I acknowledge the little insight you provided into "Laker-ball" but I just refuse to be blind to KB24's flaws. I am not disagreeing with you just for the sake of it and I apologize if I have offended you in any way since that isn't my intent. Just making a point one last time since ,with your admirable but near fanatical adoration of Kobe, you don't leave room for a sensible and objective discussion.

Amit... maybe you missed some.
(btw, I don't get "offended" on the web, and not even in real life, about these kind of things).
I don't think at all Kobe can't do wrong.
If you read all my posts, I openly said in the "reach milestone West game" he overshot. I also said he overshot in some other games.
Was that wrong?
Yes.
As much as it is wrong for his teammates to play with half of Kobe's intensity wjhen they are on court ready to rely on his "saviour Mode" which they keep doing way too often.

And if I have to measure the importance of a player's single fault, to four teammates at once faults, mathematics tells me Kobe has 1/5th of the global fault, and the rest have 4/5th of it.

Result: Kobe's faults don't excuse the other's faults. They summonize.
Or do you think Kobe owns his teammates minds?
You wouldn't be fair to the rest of the team personality, responsibility, skill and talent.

I am not, hence I ma asking fairness in judgement.

Kobe fails like every other human.

But if I have to count how many times he fails on court compared to any other one olaying this game, I have plenty of evidences he fails less, he wins more, and he plays better.

STILL.

You can disagree of course.

And I an disagree with your disagreement, I hope.

D. Fish does suck. Yes, he is a veteran who has come through in the past...
So is Robert Horry, but we don't want him either!

Posted by: Todd | February 11, 2010 at 09:28 AM

Todd, please speak for yourself. I actually want Derek on this team. He has picked up more of the offensive slack since Kobe and Andrew went down.

Derek has come through in the past, and he sure did come through in the last 3 games. Let's not forget that.

"It is not in Gasol's DNA to be a TOP DOG and please don't try to be someone that you are not."

Posted by: Fred Sanford | February 11, 2010 at 10:13 AM

So let me get this straight - psychological traits are wholly determined by DNA? That shows a clear over-simplification of the field of genetics, as well as psychology.

Charles,

>>>Hinrich/Thomas for Morrison Bynum trade?

HELL no. You could get a lot better value for Bynum, if you were serious about trading him.

But I would consider a Noah/Hinrich deal, especially if they sweetened it with a draft pick.

Noah would actually be an improvement over Bynum at the defensive end, though a drop off on offense. But with Pau, Kobe, Lamar, Artest, Farmar, Brown, and Fish, who really needs more offense?

Caliphilosopher,

>>>Derek has come through in the past, and he sure did come through in the
>>>last 3 games. Let's not forget that.

Well... 2 of the 3 anyway. 2 for 6 shooting and 2 turnovers vs Utah wasn't quite as helpful.

But I agree, I want DFish around. I just want him playing 20 minutes off the bench and being a sage adviser to the young players rather than starting.

We will really never know what Farmar can do, until we get him in the starting lineup. I wish someone from the LA times would dig deep, and figure out why the Lakers don't let him start, with Fish coming off the bench. Farmar starting with energy and Fish coming off the bench during critical moments is the perfect combo.

Your math is confused Zaira. If Kobe is only 1/5 responsible for what the team is doing when he is on the court, then he needs to make someone else the captain and he can forget about MVP. Kobe takes upon himself an enlarged portion of the responsibility - first, because he is a veteran and a more talented player, so he should; and second, because he does more than his share of ball-handling and takes far more than his share of shots, decreasing what other players are able to do. If you told Kobe that he only has 1/5 of the responsibility when he's on the floor, he would laugh at you.

LA Guy, my math is not confused at all. At least none like your unability to' read.
I was addressing Amit after my previous post on triangle efficiency.
Try to' follow, right? I will help you by being easy.
Triangle needs everyone SHAPE and focus ( and the other skills I was enlightening in the aforementioned post...)

when triangle is not performable, like in games from middle dec to' middle january, due to' kobe's teammates lacks of focus, the triangle as options get lmited and not efficacious.

Hence Kobe tries to' compensate, hacking more shots.

Are you there?

Fine.

So, in the not good situation that is 4 teammates not performing at their best >>>> kobe hacking too much, i restate ( and i think i can count to' 5...) kobe has 1/5 th responsibility and his teammates have 4/5th.

Don't try to' attempt sofisms with me.

You fail.

Either read my posts try to' put an effort at understanding them, or avoid to' address what you didn't even got in the first place.

Don't try to' attempt sofisms with me.

You fail.

Either read my posts try to' put an effort at understanding them, or avoid to' address what you didn't even got in the first place.

Posted by: ZairaAmaterasu | February 11, 2010 at 02:55 PM

OUCH! Zaira, don't hurt him so bad. That was a vicious comeback!

WOW. Well said.

--FEARless

I care about championships, not teamwork. Lakers can’t win a championship without Kobe. Odom is the most inconsistent so called star player the team has ever had and those that see beyond the moment realize it. Pau is the softest all star big man the team has ever had and those that see beyond the moment realize it.

During the Lakers last three games (huge sample size, eh?), I’ll give them this; they have played strong defense. That’s the only tangible improvement the team has had. Team work? I’ll take more points scored which is what the team does when Kobe is in the lineup over team work all day any day. I don’t care about how it’s done. I only care about what happens in June. Nothing else matters to me. I don’t have agenda’s to say I like this guy or I don’t like that guy or whatever. As long as the team wins when it matters the most in the playoffs, I don’t care how they play.

It’s obvious to me that this team without Kobe will not blow everybody out in every single game. It’s obvious to me that when this team without Kobe plays a close game they have nobody to go to for a clutch play. Definitely not Gasol, Odom or Artest. The closest guy would be Fisher. But any Laker fan without an agenda knows Fisher is not the answer.

It’s also obvious to me that without Kobe in the lineup, the team did step up and play solid defense. That’s the key right there. That’s all about effort. Why do you think they played with such effort at this time? Because Kobe was out? If that’s the answer, then they’re way too unprofessional to win a title. How can anybody let another determine the level of effort the give on a basketball court? Did they all of a sudden become defensive stoppers? Laughable at best. Were they trying to prove a point that they could win some games without Kobe and would do anything within their abilities to get it done? That’s my belief. This team has so much talent up and down the lineup that it’s an absolute joke how they play much of the regular season and it’s mostly embarrassing for me to say that I actually wasted 3 hours and watched a regular season Laker game. And when guys hear things like, “other than Kobe and Artest, this team is soft” or “if only the entire team had the work ethic of Kobe” or “Artest brings a new mentality to the team. He brings toughness,” they feel the pressure and most of all their pride is at stake. They must be thinking, “Do I prove the media and talking heads wrong and show that I can come out and play or do I stay as soft as tissue and prove the media and talking heads right?”

Anyway; No Kobe, no championship! Period! Anybody without an agenda and understands the difference between the regular season and playoffs knows it.


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