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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.

--Mark Medina

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I believe there is a total media oversight with Ron this season. The media and to a certain extent the fans have come to expect Ron's emotions to be worn on his sleeve given the Palace incident and other outbreaks along with the raw emotion we saw with his first championship.

But re-live last weeks game against the Clippers when he was acting as peacemaker for his long time friend LO. I knew it was a good "teammate" thing to do - have his back.

More importantly, the league overturning his T was probably the greatest thing that could have happened to Ron. It meant the league now "respects" him - which is going to make it harder down the road for refs to randomly call T's on him. THAT'S HUGE for us in the playoffs!!! When his defense is most needed, he may get a call or two that changes momentum. And as we all know with PJ, momentum is key to the success of the "triangle".

Additionally, while Ron Ron has had a mediocre season, he's a math major, very cerebral and super smart. He's very analytical and you don't lose your intellect that easily.

So, while he might be fumbling through, I have no doubt he will be all business when we need him most. Having games like this where his defense fuels a W is a major confidence boost to someone like Ron. But like everyone else, he is learning to temper the accolades for another championship run.

I believe this season PJ has taught Ron to harness his emotions and mix that with his EQ to really grasp the nuances of the "triangle". Ron didn't have the time to do that last season, he does now.

It's a change for sure and has led to emotional peaks and valleys for all of us. But once again, I have no doubt his veteran and business-like approach now will reap huge reqards later.

Cheers - PLG

@ PLG,

Excellent post. I generally agree about the oversight as well. However, I think the basis of the oversight is the fact that Ron's "craziness" has not been of a self-destructive nature, but one of internal development and spiritual retribution. Those things, coupled with the media's general need to exploit one's failures and faults, doesn't create the kind of buzz that LA/Hollywood yearns for.

Personally, it has been refreshing to see Ron's awakening after the Finals and subsequent episodes of "craziness". Watching his skills decline slightly is worth watching him grow tremendously as a person on and off the court. He drives me crazy when he deviates from the offense, yet he finds other ways to offset that disruptive behavior with some superlative defensive play or timely basket. His paradoxical game is indicative of his personality.

In closing, you are spot-on about the respect issue with the League. It has been long overdue, and he should be praised for taking the whole thing in stride. The Odom/Griffin scuffle was a role reversal for Ron. The League saw. We saw it. The players saw it. The Rasheed-ism of Artest's game may have finally been washed away in all that champagne last June.

It seems as though Ron was crawling last year, and now he's walking. I'm hoping we'll see him running by April. The only thing prettier than defense is that gold ring in June.



For the record, Ron Artest has been Boston's #1 nemesis of the past ten years. Back in Indiana, he helped the Pacers, sweep the Celtics. Came to L.A. Artest made all the difference in game 7. Meaning, Ron Artest stands alone in this distinction. He is the only player on an opposing team to have swept the Celtics in the playoffs and defeated them in a Championship Game 7 in the Finals . Props to Ron.

I disagree about oversighting Ron. In fact I think there's too much attention on him, partly because of his tendency to say funny things. But I would say that this outlet as well as others have documented quite in depth both his successes and failures this season. That includes the issue about the ejection and getting it rescinded

It seems like it's been a week since the last game!

I watched the Clippers/Warriors game the other night and man, was that exciting basketball. I still love my Lakers, but they are so slow and lethargic compared to almost every other team in the League. Even the Spurs have infused their older squad with some younger talent and seem much younger than us.

We'll still be there in the Finals, but I hope our guys won't be too worn out by the time they make it there.

As for Ron, he frustrates the heck out of me, but he does come up large when it counts.

1. I think Jerry West made this comment just to piss off Kobe Bryant.
2. A pissed off Kobe Bryant is an unstoppable force.

Posted by: Bill Cosby | January 24, 2011 at 09:39 AM

Non sequitur.

Rationalizations are beautiful; keep us safe, warm and nonplussed. Jerry West can't have an opinion of his own that's taken at face value, it has to be re-arranged, psychoanalyzed and taken out of context. Jerry's from West Virginia, folks, one place where you can get your phd in straight shooting.


Have you ever BEEN to West Virginia?

Posted by: Jon K. | January 24, 2011 at 09:56 AM

Nope. I know there's a juicy little rub there, Jon, help me out.

DR (Dreaded Repost):

Jerry West is, and always will be the Man. He doesn't say stuff just to motivate Kobe and the Lakers, he just says what he thinks is the truth. He didn't predict that the Celts would win the title, he said they have an excellent chance, which they do. So do the Lakers.

my first selection of the day:

Ron's defense is a given. I think the Lakers should work on getting him a few more touches in the post because I think that'll help his outside shot. Last year he struggled with his 3pt shot in the playoffs (29%). But, like last year, I have no doubt he'll be there when the Lakers need him most.

@Sean - Good post about Ron being Boston's nemesis. He's had a lot of great battles with Pierce over the years. I'm looking forward to another edition this year.

Someone made a comment last week that PJ is probably deliberately pacing the guys to make sure and insure their long term stability during the Playoffs. I am beginning to agree with that philosophy. Frustrating as things may look, mind-boggling as the situation may seem, it's super clear to me that we are being "paced." Of the 13 losses, only a few of them amount to genuine @$$ kickings. The rest are of the "we've almost got em...almost got em...aaaah, screw it - on the the next one" variety.

I've said it all season and I'll say it again. All of the NBA is SPRINTING. We're the only ones running a MARATHON. Once April hits and everyone else deals with fatigue, we'll be ready to roll all the way through June.


I wouldn't describe West Virginia as a land of straight shooters. It's pretty much Akron, Ohio without all the glitz... and worse detal hygiene.

Keep in mind, Jerry's been out here for more than a minute, too.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


More evidence to support the "Lakers are just bored" theory...

The last time Michael Jordan won a championship was the end of the second 3-peat in 1997-98. When that team was 45 games into the season (as the Lakers are now), they had a 32-13 record. That was the third best record in the league through that many games (Seattle was at 35-10, the Lakers were at 34-11).

So now, after 45 games...

The Lakers are 32-13 with the third best record in the league.

BTW, that Bulls team went 2-2 over their next 4 games before picking it up and closing the season strong to finish tied with the best record in the league.

Considering the fact that the record for the Lakers with Bynum starting (11-3) is much better than their record with Bynum out or playing back into shape (21-10), It's a fair assumption that the Lakers can still pick up steam and finish the season strongly.

I'm not sure the Lakers can catch the Spurs, but they do play them 3 more times, so they could close the gap by 3 games just by sweeping those. Note that the first chink has appeared in San Antonio's armor, with an injury to George Hill's thumb. If any of the big 3 go out for a few games, the odds the Lakers catch them goes up dramatically. And even if they don't, the Lakers team that would play the Spurs in the playoffs would NOT be the team that played them in December (with Bynum barely back and Gasol in the middle of a slump).

The Lakers can definitely catch Boston, who just lost to 13-29 Washington, despite being at full strength.

Since Jerry said the Lakers are getting a little long in the tooth....I take his cue with my song for today.

Pulp - Help the Aged

>>>Have you ever BEEN to West Virginia?

I have!

I was on tour with a band, and en route from our gig in Columbus to our gig in Washington, we passed through Wheeling, WV. I even stopped and had lunch and walked around town. :-)

nice Pulp selection, I'll keep it going with that theme:

Hobbitimage, you asked me:

Do you *really* think that Jerry West is a worse judge of coaches than you?

No, I don't think he is a worse judge of coaches than me, I think he is much better. I am sure if we both were GMs hiring coaches Jerry would have a big advantage over me. I am commenting on West's opinion that coaches are not all that important. He makes it now and again in different forms. And I don't agree with him. I think he is making a point that players are more important than coaches, and I agree with that, but he takes it farther to actually minimize the role of coaches. I am not sure Kobe and Shaq would ever have won those titles under Pfund or (Dont Blame Del) Harris or Rambis, even though all those guys are good coaches (okay, maybe not Pfund, who seemed to be hire so West could prove coaches don't matter).

Along those same lines are you saying: As soon as PJ retires, the Lakers
are doomed?

Not at all. While I think coahes are important, and also I think PJ is a great coach, I don't think he is the ONLY great coach. And he may be getting a bit old or jaded or something at this point. I think Phil Jackson is one of the all time great coaches, but it may be time for a change.

The key is you need not just a good coach but a good coach for your specific team. If I had a young team and only one season, I'd hire Larry Brown. For a collection of vets I'd hire Phil or Popovich. For this team I would seriously consider Brian Shaw, who would provide continuity but also is a generation younger and may be able to relate to the players in a different way than Phil.

So, in short, no, I am saying neither of those things. Thanks for asking.


Posted by: LongTimeLakerFan | January 24, 2011 at 10:23 AM
"The Lakers can definitely catch Boston, who just lost to 13-29 Washington, despite being at full strength."

I agree with you that the Lakers can catch Boston. But, you have set out food for the trolls by stating that Boston lost "at full strength" to the Wizards. Let the record show that Boston did NOT have...
. . . Perkins (trolls reminding us that Lakers could not beat Celts if Perkins had played)
. . . Shaq injured hip and played just a few minutes
. . . Delonte West

Let's be honest. If we do not consider Lakers at full strength while missing back-up center (Ratliffe) and back-up forward (Barnes), then Celtics are not at full strength without starting AND back-up centers (Perkins & Shaq) and back-up point guard (West).

Oh how it hurts to even appear to be lending support to the Boston Celtics!


" I think the Lakers should work on getting him a few more touches in the post because I think that'll help his outside shot"

I've been saying the same thing all year. Ron has proven that if he gets the touches, he can still score in bunches. He can pretty much overpower anyone in the post.

@ MM...

In defense of PLG (much more enjoyable defending her than those dreaded Celtics!), I think you might have taken her observation too personally about Ron being overlooked by the media.

The fact is that ESPN, TNT, and other National Media sources still seek to identify Ron with his former misdeeds, sometimes more than his recent record. It feels like those media outlets linger over the past like vultures trying to pick one last morsel of meat from a bone that has long ago been picked clean.

It sometimes has the feeling of those who gawk at the car accident or replay youtube videos over and over showing some chaotic event. It's like some people have an appetite for the blunders of others. They may say the right things, but there is an undeniable tone that lurks in the background coloring their hopes and expectations.

That is why the league's move to overturn Ron's "T" was monumental. A little recent history for perspective.

1. We all remember Steve Javie giving a "T" to Rasheed Wallace in a playoff game versus the Lakers because Sheed "looked at him wrong." Javie suffered no consequences from the league. The "T" stood.

2. We also remember Joey Crawford giving a "T" to Tim Duncan in a playoff game because Tim "looked at him wrong" (actually, Joey accused Tim of laughing at him). Crawford was suspended and the "T" was rescinded.

The reputations of those players dictated much of the Leagues response (admittedly Crawford's subsequent taunt of Timmy was also considered). Sheed got no benefit. Timmy got the benefit.

I think what PSLG is trying to say (and many of us agree with her!) is that it is about time that Ron be viewed more like Timmy than Sheed. That you ~ MM ~ claim to already do that is wonderful! I think I agree with you. BUT, please do not overlook the many other media outlets that are lagging way behind. That is her point.

Now I call upon UTZ to close my sermon with a word of prayer! lol


>>>. . . Perkins (trolls reminding us that Lakers could not beat Celts if Perkins
>>>had played)
>>>. . . Shaq injured hip and played just a few minutes
>>>. . . Delonte West

My bad. Celtics are not at full strength - they did have The Big 4, but they were missing some other pieces that do make them better.

I stand corrected - not the first time I've been wrong and it won't be the last.


The endless string of small injuries knocking out this player or that for a few games here and a few games there does make the Celtics very vulnerable.

"The Lakers can definitely catch Boston, who just lost to 13-29 Washington, despite being at full strength.

Posted by: LongTimeLakerFan | January 24, 2011 at 10:23 AM "

I really don't want to defend Boston here, but I have to admit they were playing with their 4th center. Still an inexcusable loss but they're not "full strength" with Perkins and both O'Neals wearing suits.

The Celts should have won that game with only Rondo and the bench. The Wizards are just plain AWFUL, but then again, the Lakers have lost many games this year that they should have easily won. It happens to all the best teams(losing to inferior opponents).

MM - I totally (yes, in my best valley girl twang) did not mean my comment to represent the LAT. It was definitely more geared to national media outlets.

The LAT (and I am not sucking up) has been very fair in media coverage of Ron. I would also say it has provided Ron a balanced, second chance media outlet in order for him to change his reputation.

LakerMike is spot on. Thanks LakerMike!

Cheers - PLG

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

- Bruce Lee

While a very esoteric, deeply philosophical meaning(s), it's not that far fetched from the way Ron Artest approaches big games. As you alluded to MM, Ron doesn't offer a broad analysis of his game, I think, he just understands, that for him to be in the best situation on the court, he needs to make sure he can free his mind, play to play, timeout to timeout, game to game, and when he does this, he's very successful, gets into a rhythm.


It's certainly a beautiful state, but it is kind of a desperate place in a lot of ways. Highest cancer rates in the country; lowest quality of life.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.




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