Breaking down Ron Artest's defensive performance against Carmelo Anthony
Whether it's a good or a bad game, don't go to Lakers forward Ron Artest for a detailed breakdown.
He insists on staying in the moment, avoids reflecting on past plays and generally offers little analysis regarding his game. That's why it shouldn't be surprising he didn't make much of the Lakers' 107-97 victory Friday over the Denver Nuggets where he scored a season-high 19 points on eight-of-12 shooting and provided a stingy defensive effort against Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony that partly led to Anthony's 23 points on 10-of-24 shooting. Artest remaining stoic on an offensive effort isn't surprising considering his contention that he's more worried about defense. But he's as equally nonchalant about his defense on Melo.
"None of it," Artest said. "It's nothing I had never seen before. It's nothing I haven't seen before. So it's not really anything. I've done that a lot of times."
Besides wanting to psychologically keep himself humbled and hungry, Artest has a point in remaining reluctant to give himself too much praise. A review of the game showed that he made exactly five stops that prevented Anthony from scoring, including zero in the first quarter and an entire second quarter where Lakers Coach Phil Jackson sat him in favor of Luke Walton. Still, the plays below the jump shows how much Artest can help elevate the Lakers' defensive identity, a point Jackson conceded and used as an opportunity to take a little dig.
"Ron can really help us out a lot, as long as he doesn't chase the ball in the backcourt after somebody else gets the rebound," Jackson said. "If he minds his business and gets back on defense, he helps us out a lot."
Below the jump is a breakdown on how Artest did just that on five key possessions against Anthony.
11:18 - 11:10, third quarter
After denying Nene's passing lane to Anthony, Artest doubled up with Andrew Bynum on Nene at the right block. Once he picked up his dribble, Nene kicked the ball out to Anthony on the nearside. Artest immediately closed out Anthony, whose contested three-point attempt hit off the front rim.
8:29 - 8:15, Third quarter
Instead of staying on Anthony on the nearside perimeter, Artest stayed in the lane so he could deny penetration along the baseline should Denver point guard Chauncey Billups beat Lakers guard Derek Fisher off the dribble. That didn't happen, as Billups passed to Anthony. Artest immediately picked him and challenged him to drive to the rack. Artest forced Anthony to his left, but he then spun right before driving to the basket. Artest maintained his balance, however, and took the ball out of Anthony's hands as he went up for a shot. It resulted in Kobe Bryant converting on a transition dunk, giving the Lakers a 60-57 lead.
8:05 - 8:00, Third quarter
On the next possession, Billups threw an entry pass to Anthony on the right block. After Artest lightly laid his forearm on Anthony's back, he squared up in triple-threat position, dribbled left, spun to his right and went up for a right-handed layup. Artest's positioning on Anthony, however, forced him to shoot the ball at a poor angle, resulting in an off-balance shot that hit off the backboard.
4:32 - 4:26, Third quarter
After Denver forward Al Harrington posted Anthony up on the nearside, Artest gave him space to drive left. Instead, Anthony picked up his dribble and settled for a contested jumper that hit the front rim.
3:50 - 3:42, Fourth quarter
Artest's boxout may not have been enough to stop Anthony from grabbing a rebound off Bryant's missed 21-foot jumper, but Artest made up for it on the other end. After grabbing the rebound, Anthony ran the break on the far end. Artest kept with him, but gave Anthony space to drive left. Anthony took the bait and drove past Artest. Before Anthony could meet Bryant in the paint, Artest swiped the ball from behind just as Anthony went up for a shot.
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