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Kobe Bryant Puts Boston On Notice : Respect Kobe

Kobe Bryant Puts Boston On Notice

Kobe Bryant hits one of many jumpshots again the Celtics on Christmas DayIn the 10th straight Christmas day game of his career, and the first matchup between the Lakers and Celtics since Game 6 of the 2008 Finals, Kobe Bryant quietly orchestrated the biggest Lakers win in over six months.

While Pau Gasol has gotten all of the recognition for the late game push that propelled the Lakers to their most promising victory in nine games against the “Big Three” Celtics, it was Bryant who kept the Lakers in the game early. When the Celtics tied the game at 81, it was Bryant who engineered all of the Lakers’ final 13 points, setting up the Lakers’ nine point victory.

Responding Early

After missing their first two shots of the game, the Lakers hit five of their next seven, putting together a 10-4 run to take a three-point lead. The Celtics, however, responded with six straight points, taking a 13-10 lead. Sensing an opportunity for Boston to put the Lakers in an early hole, Kobe Bryant waited no longer.

On three of the Lakers’ next four offensive possessions, Bryant set up in the high post, just off the right elbow. The first time, he drew the double team, turned and drained a fadeaway jumpshot.

The next time down the floor, he faced up and effortlessly blew by Ray Allen, forcing Allen to foul him so as not to give up an easy dunk.

Resetting after the foul, he broke free on a Luke Walton screen, again received the ball in the same spot, and again hit the turnaround jumper, taking back the lead.

After Paul Pierce hit a jumpshot to put Boston back on top, Kobe once again found the same spot on the floor, and once again he elevated and hit the jumpshot.

After Luke Walton and Kevin Garnett traded shots, Bryant received the ball beyond the three-point line. Having watched Bryant hit his last three jumpshots, Ray Allen was playing him close. Kobe effortlessly drove around Allen and sliced through four Boston defenders for a point blank layup.

Going into the second quarter, the Lakers were down by one point — but not for long. On the their first offensive possession, Bryant received the ball at the top of the key, just inside the three-point line. Feeling his shot, he simply rose up and drained yet another jumper.

After a Glen Davis miss, Kobe brought the ball back down the court. Hesitating for a split second at the three-point line, he hit the gas and blew past Tony Allen for an easy layup — his seventh made basket in 10 tries for 14 points, including 12 of their last 17.

On the Lakers’ next possession, he again received the ball near the right elbow. As the double team arrived, Bryant found a cutting Lamar Odom, who got to the basket, drew the foul, and made both free throws.

On the other end of the court, Bryant initiated the most stunning play of the game. After a Glen Davis miss was batted around, Bryant got to the loose ball, batting it to the other end of the court even as he took an elbow to the face from Ray Allen. Beating Eddie House to the ball, Ariza spun in the air, finding a trailing Sasha Vujacic as he flew out of bounds. Vujacic collected the pass at full speed, putting up a layup that hesitated on the rim before dropping through the basket, just as a foul was called on the play. Vujacic made the free throw to complete the three-point play, opening up a six-point Lakers lead.

After Ray Allen hit a three-pointer on the other end, Bryant found his new favorite spot on the court for the fourth time, once again elevating and draining a jumpshot from the right elbow — his eighth made basket in only 11 tries for 16 points, including 14 of the last 23 for the Lakers.

By assisting on Lamar Odom’s free throws and initiating the highlight play that led to Sasha Vujacic’s layup “and one,” Kobe Bryant had been directly involved in 18 of the Lakers’ 23 points since halfway through the first quarter.

Boston’s First Push

With the Lakers lead at five and growing — a lead that wouldn’t be threatened until late in the third quarter — Kobe Bryant allowed himself to take a back seat, helping set up his teammates as the Lakers’ cushion grew.

Midway through the third quarter, Boston trimmed an eight-point lead to three on a Paul Pierce three-pointer. A few moments later, Bryant found himself wide open behind the three-point line, received a pass from Derek Fisher, and nailed the long jumper, pushing the lead back to six.

On the next trip down the floor, Bryant called loudly for the ball, drew the defense, and then hit Pau Gasol for an easy dunk.

Boston would make another push, this time taking the lead late in the third quarter. With Bryant on the bench, Odom and Vujacic picked up the slack, hitting long jumpshots to take a four-point lead into the fourth.

With the Game on the Line

Boston wasn’t finished. On consecutive baskets by Kevin Garnett, they took a two-point lead with 3:36 remaining in the game. With little time remaining and the Celtics looking strong, Kobe Bryant took over once again.

Taking a pass from Pau Gasol, he drove into the right corner, elevated, and hit a fall-away jumper to tie the game.

After Ray Allen missed a three-point attempt, Bryant drove to the free throw line, drawing a sea of green. As the defense scrambled to rotate, Bryant found a wide open Gasol at the right elbow. Pau took and made the open jumper, the first of three well chronicled clutch baskets by Gasol.

Ray Allen missed another three-pointer, and Kobe collected the rebound. On the other end of the court, he drove first right, then left, met at every turn by multiple green jerseys. Drawing a triple team, he again found Pau Gasol below the free throw line. Gasol cashed in on an unchallenged floater, pushing the lead to four.

Garnett hit a long jumper to keep Boston in the game. On the other end of the court, Bryant once again drew the triple team, and once again he found Pau Gasol, wide open at the free throw line. For a third straight possession, Gasol took advantage of open floor space to drive to the basket, making the layup and drawing a foul in the process. Gasol coolly hit the free throw, pushing the lead to five.

Closing the Deal

Back on defense, Gasol switched onto Ray Allen, forcing Kobe to guard Kevin Garnett. As he had once earlier in the game, Bryant blanketed Garnett, denying him the ball and preventing him from exploiting the mismatch. Allen, looking to exploit his own mismatch, called for the ball on the right wing. As he elevated for the three-point shot, Pau Gasol soared in from behind the screen, blocking the shot.

As Trevor Ariza leaked out on the break, both teams bobbled the loose ball. Kobe Bryant, coming from his defensive position in the low post, arrived to tap the ball out to Ariza, who finished the play with an emphatic, two-handed, windmill dunk.

Again on defense, the Celtics tried yet again to close the gap, but once again, Gasol got a piece of Paul Pierce’s three-pointer. As the Celtics recovered and the shot clock dwindled, Eddie House was forced to take a very long three-pointer. The shot missed, and Bryant came down with the rebound.

Bringing the ball down the floor, Kobe watched the seconds tick off the clock. Faking right, he drove left, once again leaving Ray Allen behind him. Driving around Garnett and straight through the Celtics defense, he emerged underneath the basket, making an easy layup to put the game out of reach for the Celtics.

Master of Puppets

Most of the credit for the late push that led the Lakers to their most impressive win yet over the Garnett-Allen-Pierce Celtics has gone to Pau Gasol — and understandably so, as he hit three key baskets in a row and blocked not one, but two three-point attempts that could have brought the Celtics within striking distance.

As CelticsBlog graciously pointed out, Gasol scored seven points on 3-for-3 from the field and 1-for-1 from the line in the fourth quarter, along with two key blocked shots —all in less than two minutes of game time.

For the game, Gasol tallied 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting, 6-for-6 from the foul line, five assists, three rebounds, and three blocks.

But behind it all, it was Kobe Bryant that orchestrated both the early push to take the lead, and the late push to win the game. It was Bryant who created all 13 of the Lakers’ final points, either by deliberately creating wide open shots for his teammates, or by scoring on his own. It was Bryant who orchestrated the 13-2 run with which the Lakers closed the game, transforming a late two-point deficit into a decisive nine-point victory.

Though Gasol’s fourth quarter statistics were impressive, Bryant’s were even more so: He scored six points on 3-for-3 shooting from the field, along with five rebounds, four assists, and one jump ball in which the Lakers gained possession.

For the game, Bryant scored 27 points on 13-for-23 shooting (56.5%), along with five assists (four in the final three minutes), and a team-high nine rebounds.

While it is nice that Bryant finally has help — a sidekick who can finish and hit clutch shots, a big man who can help keep the defense honest, and supporting players who put forth maximum effort and make energy plays to turn the tide of the game — the best player on the floor against Boston was not Pau Gasol, as everyone from ESPN to the Celtics’ fans would have you believe.

As he has been countless times before, Kobe Bryant was the best player on the floor and the best player in the world on Christmas Day. He was whatever the Lakers needed, whenever they needed it — responding whenever Boston threatened to make a push or take control, keeping his team in it early and orchestrating the victory late.

He was the Master of Puppets, pulling the strings — first punishing the Celtics when they played off him early in the game; and then later, sucking green jerseys to himself like a black hole on the court, creating wide open shots for his teammates.

With a quiet but masterful performance on Christmas Day, Kobe Bryant put the Boston Celtics on notice: The Lakers are at full strength, and they’re ready. And containing him won’t be as easy this time.

Filed Under Kobe Bryant | 69 Comments

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69 Comments so far
  1. Brittney says...December 30, 2008 2:18 am

    Hey Ya’ll after reading this article from Josh ya’ll may wanna take a look at this link, if you haven’t already…..
    http://www.nba.com/video/channels/nba_tv/2008/12/29/nba_20081229_lebronvskobe.nba/index.html
    Where Rick Kamla makes his opinion on the whole Lebron vs. Kobe thing and I can agree with some points he makes but not all of them and I still say Kobe is better. I just really wish I can talk to these dudes who really believe Lebron is better because I just don’t see how they come to that theory. How can you say Kobe shows no leadership because they lost to Boston by 30??-To me a lose is a lose no matter if you lose by 2 points and you lose some and you win some, that doesn’t determine your value to your team on and off the court. Then Rick says Kobe is not hungry- Believe me everyone in the NBA is hungry no matter who they are, you don’t play the game to be a slacker. Rick says Kobe’s not a playmaker- But Josh would tell you on the Lakers Kobe is the playmaker because he is the leading assist men on the team. Just check it out ya’ll will understand me more.

  2. Brittney says...December 30, 2008 2:29 am

    Yup Kobe did do his thing on Christmas day but what I really notice was Boston’s bench was no match for LA’s bench and without Posey they looked lost, that can potentially be Boston’s problem come playoffs. Lakers are deep and ready, I’m glad they won because if they didn’t I wouldn’t take them seriously.

  3. The Lakers Analyst says...January 1, 2009 10:30 am

    If the playoffs are to be played now, the Lakers will win it’s match up against the Celtics.
    The Celtics have been struggling against the top offensive teams in the league right now. They’ve already lost to 4 of the top 7 offensive teams (Lakers, Warriors, Denver and Pacers) and they might be losing to the other 3 this month (New York, Phoenix, Cleveland).
    http://lalakersnba.blogspot.com/2009/01/celtics-struggle-against-top-offensive.html

  4. xrism says...January 8, 2009 9:15 pm

    Great stuff once again.

    Boston and the “Sports Media” cringe when they have to give credit to the PLAYER who actually rivals their beloved Michael Jordan.

    The Media hates Bryant as it is. Giving him credit in such a big game would put him on the level as King Crab even though when the Cavs win and Lebron didnt lead in points or assists or rebrounds the headline will still say how Lebron King Crab James led the way.

    As for NBA.com.

    That guy and a couple sports writers in Ohio are about the only experts who share that view.

    As if Lebron James is as good as Bryant on defense. Kobe Bryant is a MASTER of every facet of the game of basketball. Lebron is a great dunker and great at driving to the rim. That is all!!!

  5. Brittney says...January 11, 2009 12:45 am

    I just about had enough with ESPN.com the Cavs beat the Celtics and all of a sudden it’s Lebron’s world but as you know Josh when the Lakers beat the Celtics it was not Kobe’s world it was ohh Pau Gasol came through for the Lakers. You should see it Josh everyone is on the bandwagon for Lebron to get the MVP and now he is all of a sudden the best player in the league. It’s also funny that the Lakers are tied with the Cavs record wise but by the way ESPN.com is going on no one would never know until they found out for theirselves. It looks as if Kobe will have to win this years Championship before anyone gives this dude credit. I swear Kobe will go down as the most hated player in the history of the NBA. Now back to Rick Kamla and his comments he made on NBATV Jan.9 when Kobe hit the winning shot vs. Indiana Rick Kamla said you already know I think Lebron is the Best overall player in the League but when it comes to the Last shot Kobe Bryant is the guy all the time. To me that makes no sense because wouldn’t you want the Best player in the League as Rick claims to take the last shot with the game on the line. Kobe has pissed so many people off that this dude can’t buy credit from the media, it’s ridiculous and I just had enough. 

  6. Willie says...January 13, 2009 9:20 pm

    It tickles me how every time Lebron or Wade have big games or even a series of big games how people are ready to place them ahead of Kobe. “King James drops 40+, D. Wade drops 50+, with so many asists and rebounds!!!” 

    Ok, that’s cute and all, but let me know when either of them or anyone else has:
       * 10 straight 50pt games in 1 season !
       *81 pts in 1 game !
       *Out scores a whole team over 3 quarters-  Dallas-61, Kobe 62 !
       * Averages 43.4pts for a month (Jan. 2006)
       * 4 straight 50pt games
       * Averages 40.6pts for a month, (Feb. 2003), also 6.9rbs, 5.9ast. 2.2stls for the 03 season, while shooting 38% from 3pt range.
       * Etc.
    Kobe is in his 13th season! He’s not trying to have duels with the new sheriff’s in town, been there, done that and set records that only Wilt has acheived along the way! Kobe is good to great at every phase of the game. The fact that he’s still considered one of the best in the game after 13 years should tell any intelligent person something!

    For Kamla or anyone to say “Kobe is not hungry anymore” is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in years! Kobe is pacing himself, as he should at this stage (and after a full summer of ballin’), yet he still is on the top 5 scoring list, shooting his best fg%,  leading one of the best teams in B-ball. 

    Kobe doesn’t get up to battle the likes of Lebron or Wade, if they out score or out play him in any particular game I think 30 year old Kobe doesn’t care as much a 25 yr old kobe may have. Kobe has one thing on his mind. Ring. He said it in a recent interview, “I want a 4th ring , man”. Hungry, please, when has Kobe Bryant not been hungry in basketball terms?!

    Some of these clowns will never get it. If Kobe never plays another game or never gets another ring, we’ve all seen one of the best we will EVER see!!!

  7. MV says...January 15, 2009 12:39 am

    Um… what just happened in the last 30 seconds of the Spurs game?? I’ll leave it to Josh to break it down. I’m not in a good mood right now…

  8. Brittney says...January 15, 2009 12:10 pm

    @MV

    Yeah I sat up all night arguing with every stupid comment on ESPN.com after the game but it’s a long season and all I know is that Kobe was pissed after the game, you can tell by his after game comments so you know Jan. 25 at home vs. the Spurs someone’s going for 50. I think imma ban myself from ESPN.com because the ignorance of people, I can’t take it any more, they have the right to their opinions but any fan of every team deserves for the refs to get the call right with the game on the line. It was clearly not a travel and to read the comments, I was amazed everyone can’t even agree on a bad call, some were saying it’s payback for the no call on Fishers foul on Brent Barry in the playoffs. I just can’t wait to see what Kobe does next when they meet again.

  9. MV says...January 15, 2009 5:19 pm

    @ Brittney
    Yep, check out Basketbawful’s latest entry: http://basketbawful.blogspot.com/
    Even he had to admit the refs screwed up twice. And he’s pretty much anti-Lakers.

  10. Brittney M says...January 17, 2009 1:54 am

    Look I’m tired of the Lakers losing when they should of won and yes it’s only their 8th lose tonight vs. Orlando but if you’re watching them each night like me you see their problems. The PG is one because Fisher is not a threat to me and he doesn’t do what most point guards are known for doing like setting up open shots for your team mates, make the defense pay in the paint. Yes they run the Triangle offense but Kobe is more of the point guard now just imagine if Fisher took over some of the work Kobe does and created more offense for hisself. Gasol and Bynum are problem #2 mostly Bynum if they atleast one became more dominate offensivly where teams have to pay them more attention, that would make Kobe’s life alittle more easier and Kobe wouldn’t have to create shots for him and his teammates. Tonights problem was second chance points for Orlando and Lakers D. Lakers need another PG and they need to start getting back some of their injured players. Next game vs. Cavs we need a big win and I think Bynum will be the key, the Lakers should be punishing teams in the paint and the Lakers shouldn’t rely on Kobe’s late game heroics to get them a win.

  11. MV says...January 17, 2009 2:39 am

    Yeah. Disappointing loss. Lakers role players aren’t stepping up. Lakers’ D is down. Another great night from Kobe down the drain. Bynum needs to step up.

  12. Willie says...January 18, 2009 1:16 am

    Agreed, Brittney. Every game counts if your serious about winning a ring and getting home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Fisher is not much of a threat on offense and at this point he can’t keep up with the younger quicker pg’s in the league. But what really irks me is the Laker “big” men, they don’t play like it. Like you, I watch every Laker game when possible, and check the box-score afterwards.

    Scoring is nice from centers and power fowards but I like to look at rebounds and blocks, that really tells me who’s holding down the middle , hustling and being a force in general. 
    Orlando loss: 
    Kobe-13rbs in 41mins, Bynum + Gasol-12 rbs in 66 mins(Bynum-3, Gasol 9). How does a teams 2 guard out rebound its 7ft centers!?  Heck, Ariza had 3 rbs in 20mins. Odom had 9rbs in 29 mins. But Bynum only gets 3 in 31 mins, where you at Bynum!!!?

    Spurs loss:
    Gasol-5rbs, 0blks., Bynum 3rbs, 1 blk. Kobe 7rbs, 1 blk.

    I know they were playing against top centers  but it’s all lack of effort. Bynum and Gasol could do better in those areas if they wanted to. They play like small forwards, I would demand 10 or more rbs apiece from them or bench em, put Mbenga in to send a message. Why does he not play anyway, even in blow-out games ??

    Another thing that really irks me is, in at least 1 of those games I saw Bynum on the bench with a big smile during the crucial minutes of the game. He didn’t appear to take it serious to me.  

    Right now, the Lakers are still to soft to win it all.

  13. MV says...January 20, 2009 2:27 am

    I can see Josh’s next article: “Kobe Bryant Puts Lebron James on Notice.”

    Great game from Kobe and Co today against the Cavs!

  14. Brittney says...January 20, 2009 2:40 am

    I guess Josh next article will be Kobe Puts The Cavs On Notice,LOL. I’m glad the Lakers got the win and played to their strengths, FINALLY. They contained Lebron and I think Kobe would of had better stats if his finger didn’t dislocate, that definatly was a scary moment but it looks like he will be fine and the Lakers do have 2 bad teams next so they aren’t gonna really need him that much. The next time they meet will be great to see and I hope both teams are at full strength because the excuses now for the Cavs on ESPN.com is that they were injured so thats why they lost but I know otherwise because if the Cavs won noone would be talking about injuries. Lakers needed this win and hopefully they keep rolling, Lakers are the team to beat.

  15. Willie says...January 20, 2009 11:08 pm

    More energy and effort from Gasol and Bynum this time, good.

  16. TheVoiceofReason says...January 20, 2009 11:19 pm

    There are excuses, and then there are reasons.  I’m not sure Cleveland playing how they did with 2 starters out is an excuse.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the habitually soft,  non-rebounding bigs of the Lakers went off with 7’3” Ilgauskas injured.  When’s the last time you saw Pau get multiple offensive boards like that?  Let’s keep it in perspective guys.  I wouldn’t read too much into a regular season game in January.  Come playoff time, Bean-town, Orlando, and Cleveland all can give the Lakers a tough fight.

  17. Brittney says...January 21, 2009 12:43 am

    @TheVoiceofReason

    Sorry but when the Lakers lose they aren’t aloud an excuse or reason on ESPN.com or by the media(ex. Trevor Ariza’s fabled traveling call vs. Spurs) and then the flow of comments from Kobe sucks to Lebron is better start filling up. So when Kobe and company beat Lebron and comany now it’s the excuse/comments of the Cavs being injured on ESPN.com so thats the only point I was trying to make there. Yes the playoffs are a whole other picture and one game doesn’t predict the Finals winner but it is a win that the Lakers needed and I don’t think Big Z really makes that much of a difference or Delonte because the Lakers are longer if they play to the Strength of Gasol and Bynum pounding away in that middle, my only guess is alot of foul trouble for the Cavs big men. Offensively Big Z opens the court for Lebron and maybe the score would of been closer but the Lakers all the way. I’d also like to add Lakers are one of the top rebounding teams and second chance points teams in the league if not #1 so I don’t think that just started vs. the Cavs.  

  18. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...January 21, 2009 1:07 am

    @MV & Brittney,

    Not so quick. Actually, I was not thrilled about this game, going into it. Not because I didn’t think it would be a good game, and not because I was afraid of anything. But because they media hype machine was at a maximum, and so many people were talking about it as a potential “passing of the torch” — which it was not, and would not have been even if the Lakers lost. More on that soon.

    But since I was so adamant that this was not a passing of the torch game, consistency would insist that I maintain that attitude even after a Lakers win — even one in which Kobe defended LeBron James brilliantly.

    This was just a game. A great game, a fun game, and a game that these players really get up for, for sure. A chance for each team to measure itself against a potential Finals opponent. But it really has no bearing on the Kobe vs. LeBron discussion. At least, not any more than any other game.

  19. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...January 21, 2009 1:25 am

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    The Lakers were playing without Jordan Farmar (which has a huge effect on both the bench, and the starting lineup, as Fisher is tired) and Luke Walton, and with a Kobe Bryant that was injured nearly the entire game, and said he’s rarely, if ever, played in that much pain. I think that, if one were inclined to start citing excuses, the Lakers could come up with just as many as the Cavs. Likewise, they had just as many “reasons” why they could have lost.

    While Bynum’s rebounding has been less than ideal recently, if you take a look at his performance in January, you will find that last night’s game was, in fact, not at all a fluke. It was pretty much in line with what he’s been doing. We’d like him to add more rebounds to that — last year, he averaged 12 per game in January, on similar minutes! — but his line last night was pretty normal for this month.

    Apparently, you need to take another look at Pau Gasol’s game log for this year. When have we seen him get multiple offensive boards like that? Many, many times.

    In fact, Pau Gasol averages 3.2 offensive rebounds per game — not too shabby. In January, he’s averaging 4.4 offensive boards a game — very impressive. Again, that’s obviously not a one game thing.

    As for previous multiple rebound sightings? This year, he’s gotten 4 offensive rebounds or more 16 times! He’s gotten 5 or more nine times! And he’s gotten 6 or more — like he did last night — on three other occasions, a total of 4 times this year. That includes one game with seven and two games with eight.

    So, the answer to your question about Gasol is, “Plenty.”

    Now, you’ve made your case by appealing to an established Laker trend that’s pretty obvious: their softness, their “non-rebounding bigs,” etc. Allow me to point out another Lakers trend: They bring it hard for big games. They came out with a point to prove to start the season, then started coasting on talent. And after a long stretch against bad to mediocre opponents, just when everyone was ready to write them off as hardly any different from last year, the New Orleans and Boston games of December 23rd and 25th arrived. What happened? They played with purpose, with a vengeance. They showed that same toughness from the early season. The played like they hadn’t played in weeks, and dominated both games, coming away with two very convincing wins.

    That carried over a little, but the they were back to coasting on talent. But every time there’s a big game, they flip the switch, and come out with a vengeance. Just like you saw last night. The truth is that last night was not a fluke, not one good game amidst a sea of mediocre ones. Instead, it further reinforced the growing evidence that this is a team that is really only motivated by very good opponents.

    That’s not to say I’m a big fan of it. I would much, much, MUCH rather the Lakers play this way all the time, not coast on talent. And it makes me nervous, because I’m afraid it might bite them in the ass — in the home court race, if nothing else. But be that as it may, to say that the Lakers are soft, aren’t tough, and that a game like this is a fluke, is incorrect. In fact, it’s just how they play when they feel challenged — but in that, they’re fairly consistent. And in May and June, I’m betting you that’s the Lakers team you’ll see.

    But I’d still like to see them bring that kind of energy every night.

    And you’re right, that Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando would all be tough challenges for the Lakers. But the Lakers are in that group, not below it. They can handle them.

  20. Anonymous says...January 21, 2009 9:54 am

    Just a quick spell check for me on this sentence: Change aloud to allowed

     ”Sorry but when the Lakers lose they aren’t aloud* an excuse or reason on ESPN.com or by the media(ex. Trevor Ariza’s fabled traveling call vs. Spurs) and then the flow of comments from Kobe sucks to Lebron is better start filling up.”

    by Brittney forgot to add my name

  21. TheVoiceofReason says...January 21, 2009 11:19 am

    I think you guys are neglecting to fully appreciate the absence of Z.  Josh, you can’t compare Farmar and Luke being out, to Z and West.  The value of the latter players to their respective team is more pronounced.  They are starters, and the Cavs, like any other team not named the Lakers are not that deep that they can absorb such a big loss in the line-up.  You telling me if you take 2 STARTERS off of any team, the fabric of that team is not GREATLY compromised?  C’mon guys, just say it out loud.
    Now on to Josh’s point, you make a compelling case.  My thing is, the Lakers are too young to be “flipping switches on and off.”  They just aren’t built like that; too young and immature.  The veteran teams can do that, but the young ones shouldn’t.  And I’m reluctant to prescribe to the notion that they get up for the big games.  For a team with the most talent in the league, a team that went to the Finals, a team that’s a favorite to win it all, i’m not sure there’s such thing as a big, regular-season game.  Teams with title aspirations don’t have big, regular-season games.  To me it’s going to come down to home court, which the Lakers probably have the edge in getting.  They haven’t really shown me anything to make me believe they could beat Boston in a series if BOS had home court.  It’s a long season though guys, and we’re just at the half mark.  Too much bball to be played to be reading into January games.

  22. Anonymous says...January 22, 2009 7:46 am

    Now that’s what I’m talking about Bynum! I knew he could do it. 42pts, and more important to me 15rbs. He won’t get 15rbs every night but 10+ should be his goal every night, along with 2-3 blks.

    Another triple/double from Kobe too!

  23. Willie says...January 23, 2009 4:02 pm

    Another big rebounding game (14) from Bynum, somebody must have gotten in his face and said “enough with the 3 rebound games!”

    Spur’s next, I hope the Lakers show no mercy, considering how that last Spur’s game went down!

  24. Willie says...January 25, 2009 7:14 pm

    Ok, it’s official. I think Bynums got it now, “play agressively”. 15pts, 11rbs, 4blks, against top competition this time (T. Duncan). With the return of injured players and Ariza continuing to play well the Lakers are back to playing like they did to start the season.

  25. Brittney says...January 26, 2009 11:06 am

    @Willie

    Yeah I can agree with you now, I wasn’t too proud about Bynums 42pts vs. Clippers depleted line up because I probably could of done it as well but I like the preformance vs. the Spurs. Bynum and Gasol are the keys to the Lakers next ring and they have to get it done against other teams big men and Bynum is slowly getting there.

  26. Willie says...January 26, 2009 9:25 pm

    @ Brittney,

    Yeah, the Clippers game was not a good measuring stick for Bynum. What he did show at least was that he has a good array of moves and can be more agressive if he wants to.

    BTW, didn’t Farmar look good the last game! Good to see him back. What was the nature of his knee injury, how serious was it? I know he had surgery, but I guess it was considered “minor”? They need him to give Fisher a break, or even “start”.

  27. Brittney says...January 28, 2009 1:41 am

    WHEW I feel like screaming every curse word in the book, what a game vs. Charlotte, didn’t the Lakers know Charlotte gave Boston all they can handle, no excuses the Lakers deserved to lose but to a bad team, this is just ridiculous.

  28. Willie says...January 28, 2009 6:25 am

    !!**@!!, Ahhhhhh! There,  I did it for you Brittney, cause I feel the same way! Come on Lakers! Just when I was giving them praise for getting back to playing like at the start of the season.  The Bobcats!? Yeah, the Lakers had trouble with them before, but thats all the more reason to crush them at HOME!

    It’s not that I’m putting so much weight on single games, but I’m still thinking about home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Lakers need to win these games against lesser competition. Plus it shows toughness, look at what Cleveland is doing at home!  First I wake up to 8+ inches of snow, now this! : (  Think I’ll stay home!  : ) 

  29. Willie says...January 28, 2009 6:38 am

    Btw, Brittney, you seem like a serious Kobe/Laker fan. If you haven’t gotten enough Laker talk already,  I started a Kobe/Laker watch on Gamespot
    http://www.gamespot.com/pages/forums/show_msgs.php?topic_id=26734805&page=7

    I post there as Mont13. if interested feel free to comment, I’m trying to keep it going the rest of the season….just for laughs and giggles!

  30. Brittney says...January 28, 2009 7:05 pm

    Willie I checked it out and sent you a messasge as Sagitariusbri86, Lakers need PG help I hope someone in the Laker management is seeing this or maybe start Farmer. I do believe the Lakers would of won last night if Kobe didn’t foul out but it should of never came down to Kobe being on the court.

  31. MV says...January 30, 2009 3:56 am

    @ Josh,
    Great article on Hardwood Paroxysm today, Josh. Just as the Lakers need Kobe to be their saviors, Lakers fans need you to be ours.
    BTW, have you looked into making this a forum yet?

  32. Brittney says...January 30, 2009 4:59 am

    @MV

    I also checked the article out and I agree it’s another great article. Josh is doing his thing, he even got alittle love from TrueHoop on ESPN.com. http://myespn.go.com/nba/truehoop

  33. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...January 30, 2009 2:10 pm

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    I’m not underestimating the absence of Big Z. As a big with a shooting touch, he can open up defenses. West, meanwhile, is considered by some to be the true catalyst for LeBron, and therefore, for the Cavs (worth noting, however, that while West may be the catalyst for the Cavs, Kobe is the unquestioned catalyst for the Lakers). Their absence is surely felt by the Cavs.

    That said, you seem to be underestimating Jordan Farmar’s value to the Lakers. Because of Derek Fisher’s age, Farmar is gradually becoming more and more the starter — in role, if not in title. Meanwhile, he allows Fisher to play significantly fewer minutes, which is important at Fisher’s age. By the time the Cavs game rolled around, Fish had been playing such high minutes for so long that he had really begun to look drained.

    Meanwhile, we were also miss Luke Walton, who has been our starter recently when he’s healthy. Vladimir Radmonovic started early in the season — but even that is not because he’s starter material, but more because getting him going early is really the only way to get him going at all. In fact, it speaks more to his weakness than his strength as a player — Jackson knows he’s not good enough to get going if he’s not starting. Meanwhile, even Jackson got so fed up with him recently that he has barely played in the last few weeks. While Walton is no defensive specialist, he’s a thousand times better than Radmonovic — and he’s also an excellent passer, and runs the triangle to perfection, which is very important when playing against one of the best defenses in the league.

    So we were missing one starter in Walton, and we might as well have been missing a second at the PG spot, because though Fisher was there, he was a tired version of himself, with no reinforcements. In fact, we had only one serviceable backup for both guard positions — Sasha “The (Fouling) Machine” Vujacic, who’s pretty much good for hitting 3s (though so far, not at the rate he was last year) and collecting more fouls than Ronny Turiaf, DJ Mbenga, and Andrew Bynum combined.

    Meanwhile, another of our starters — a very important one — was playing with an extremely painful injury on his shooting hand. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he was guarding LeBron James on defense. Worse still, he was giving up 3-4 inches and 70-80 pounds to LeBron James — a tremendous mismatch in LeBron’s favor.

    Despite all that, he was masterful against LeBron, defensively, and very much controlled him. He kept LeBron out of the paint, got him shooting jumpers, and held him to 36% shooting. At the same time, he kept LeBron from drawing the double & triple and becoming a distributor, holding him to only 4 assists.

    Meanwhile, he out-shot LeBron by 5% despite a severely injured finger on his shooting hand, and tripled him up in assists (12 for the game), masterfully orchestrating the Lakers’ offense.

    And let’s be clear about one thing: If Kobe Bryant had 3-4 inches and 70-80 pounds on his primary defender, he’d go off for 50 points and 13 assists. The fact that LeBron was completely unable to exlpoit such a huge physical mismatch doesn’t really seem to line up with the “New Best Player in the World” rhetoric that so many are spouting off about him. In fact, what it reinforces is the fact that he has little else in his offensive arsenal, except getting to the rim.

    He has no long-range or mid-range jumpshot — if he did, he would have been exploiting his height and vertical leaping advantages all night long, nailing jumper after jumper. That’s what Kobe would have done. And worst of all, he has no post games. Rarely, if ever, did he take the ball in the post against Kobe. When he did, he didn’t once succeed in gaining good post position. Not once was he able to use his footwork and size to back Kobe down and score over him. And since he couldn’t establish good post position against Kobe, he wasn’t able to draw the double and triple teams and then kick out to shooters.

    Anyhow… sorry about the tangent, I know you really weren’t talking about LeBron at all, more about the Cavs. But the point is that the Lakers were playing without one starter, with a very tired starter, and with a severely and very painfully injured starter, and with a lineup that should have offered a huge mismatch to the Cavs. I’d say that given all that, the challenges to each team were different, but I think they were about equal in terms of disadvantages and challenges that they had to adjust to.

    Regarding the idea that the Lakers are too young to be “flipping switches on and off.” I absolutely agree with you. That’s why I say that I hate it. The notion that they get up for big games is absolutely true — any regular Lakers watcher this season can tell you that. And they’ll probably also tell you that it frustrates them to no end. This isn’t how we want our team to be. But for better or worse, it’s how they are right now. We’re just hoping they can develop some consistency and bring some motivation when the playoffs come around.

    And I agree with you that we shouldn’t be reading too much into January games. But that doesn’t mean they’re meaningless, either. They’re an early measuring stick — not a predictor, but just a first look. In the first look, we looked good.

    Also, as for not reading too much into January games: Tell that to all those who were expecting a “passing of the torch” game, from Kobe to LeBron, and were sorely disappointed when an injured Kobe dominated the matchup.

  34. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...January 30, 2009 2:15 pm

    @Willie,

    Bynum really is looking good recently. I’m still not proclaiming his arrival yet — he’s shown flashes before, what I want from him is to deliver performances like this consistently, over the long haul. When he’s shown he can do that, then I’ll proclaim his arrival.

    Still, it’s good to see that the ability to put up 20+ with 12+ rebounds is in there, and just needs to be drawn out. Maybe Kobe, Phil, and the staff are figuring out how to motivate him. And maybe getting a taste of superstar level success with his 42-point game will make him hungry for that again.

    Also, lately he’s really been showing a lot of confidence in a whole array of post moves that we didn’t even know he had until recently. In fact, he’s been confidently pulling out moves that, until recently, he hadn’t even tried — or even dreamed about thinking about perhaps trying, maybe, at some point. He’s playing with tremendous confidence, like he knows he’s bigger than everyone else and can score at will. He’s putting the ball on the floor, playing with patience, and even throwing up a lefty every now and then. I’m liking it a lot. If he can sustain the effort and motivation, he’ll be a 20+/10+ guy next year, an a likely All Star.

  35. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...January 30, 2009 2:19 pm

    @Willie & Brittney,

    The Clippers game may not have been his best game in this stretch — his performance against Tim Duncan was clearly the better all around game — but don’t completely discount it, either. Yes, he did it against a weak defense. But on the other hand, one of my favorite things to point out is that, if it was easy, players would be doing it every night.

    That’s what I said to those who criticized Kobe’s 81 points because it came against the Raptors. If it was that easy, why has it only been done once before?

    If 42 points and 15 rebounds was easy — even against weak defenses — then we’d be seeing it every night. So, yes, we want him to recognize that his performance against Duncan was the truly impressive one, and we want him to understand why that is. But the Clippers game was pretty impressive, too.

    With continued to development and (especially) continued motivation and effort, soon enough he’ll be playing like that even against the better defenses in the league.

  36. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...January 30, 2009 2:22 pm

    @MV,

    Thanks, glad you liked it. I was originally going to call it “Sick and Tired,” because that’s how I felt.

    I am planning on implementing the forums soon. I recently designed the new Hardwood Paroxysm, and I’ve still got a few things I need to tweak on it, design-wise. But once that’s done, I’ll take a day and put some forums up here. Interested in being a moderator?

  37. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...January 30, 2009 2:23 pm

    @Brittney,

    Thanks! And thanks for pointing out that I got on TH, I didn’t even notice that.

  38. MV says...January 30, 2009 5:39 pm

    Josh,

    Thanks for the offer, but as a pre-medical undergrad right now, I’m usually busy. I don’t know how much time I have to put in as a forum moderator. I would love to be one, but I probably won’t be scouting around the forums as often as a moderator should. Maybe I can be a backup one so when I do go on, I can do some checking.

    Oh have you heard Obama’s proclamation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08f1GacuXd4)?

  39. Willie says...January 31, 2009 12:54 am

    @Josh,

    I agree that Bynum’s 42/15 night is not “easy” to do, but pointed out that it was not a good “measuring stick” for Bynum. Even ”lesser” players occasionally have great nights then settle back into mediocrity. Sometimes the “planets line up” and it’s just your night. That, plus going against  2nd string/undersized comp made me not put too much stock into Bynum’s great night, although I didn’t totally discount it.

    BTW, I also use the “If ’this’ was so easy why isn’t it done every night” argument, but Bynum’s 42/15 night, although great, has been done many times in years past. That argument applies much more so in the case of Kobe’s 81pts, which was beyond great, maybe astronomical applies. IMO, it beats Wilts 100pts.

    After Bynum’s 3rd straight good game and against top comp (T. Duncan), I didn’t say Bynum had “arrived”, but that he “got it”, that is , to play “aggressively”….and good things will come. I think Bynum has skills, but has been “lazy” in the past (really irks me)…now he seems to be over that. Tonight is another indication of that, 27pts/15rbs/2blks against the T’Wolves. Bynum may not have “arrived”, but he’s on his way….maybe he’s even arrived! : ) (let’s hope!)

  40. Brittney says...February 1, 2009 3:34 am

    It started to look like De Ja Vu all over again but Bynum seems ok and I hope so because the Lakers need him on this trip so I think they should sit him vs. Knicks and Toronto but vs. Boston we will need him to suit up. I have a feeling this injury won’t be as bad as last years.

  41. TheVoiceofReason says...February 1, 2009 1:15 pm

    @ Josh:
    Lebron is not 3-4 inches taller and 70-80 lbs heavier than kobe.  C’mon man, the exaggeration and hyperbole is a little ridiculous.  Secondly, Luke Walton is NOT a starter this year.  In years past, he has been, but this year you and I both know he’s not been starting due to injury and rotation.  So to state they were playing w/o a starter in Walton is false.  Thirdly, to say that Kobe played him “masterfully” is a little over the top; you’re giving Kobe individual credit for what was a team defensive effort.  You make it seem like Kobe was checking LeBron every possession and single-handedly locking him down.  That post was lacking in the relative objectivity I’ve come to expect from you.  Kobe Bean Bryant is the best player in the league right now, and he’ll go down as the 2nd greatest SG of all-time.  His game speaks for itself, and so there is no need to embellish or exaggerate in order to make every thing he does better than it really is.

  42. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 2, 2009 2:13 am

    @MV,

    Fair enough. I definitely understand busy. I can’t be the primary moderator because, when I have the time, I want to be writing, not moderating.

    @Everybody Else,

    If you’re interested in being a forum moderator once I get them up, and have decent organizational skills, email me.

  43. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 2, 2009 2:17 am

    @Willie,

    Agreed on most of the above. I don’t think any of Bynum’s recent games show that he has arrived, or even that he fully “gets it.” I mean, I think he “gets it,” in that he understands what he needs to do. 5 games does not at all convince me that he’s over his laziness. I think he understands, in his head, what is expected of him and what he needs to do. But I doubt that I’ll be completely sold on his willingness to put in the work and leave lazy in the past until he gives us this kind of effort every night for the rest of the season and post season, at least. I’m a wait and see kind of guy.

    I just thought that that game, though it was against weak conversation, showed us his rapidly developing skill set. And as such, it was an indicator of what he could do in a year or two, if he puts in the kind of work we both want him to. That, to me, was what was most significant about the game.

  44. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 2, 2009 2:54 am

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    Regarding size differences between LeBron and Kobe…

    Last year, a Sports Illustrated article quoted Kobe and his wife both confessing that he was 6’5″, at the most. His wife said 6’4-1/2″. Meanwhile, LeBron is listed at 6’8″. I’d say that puts him squarely in the 3-4 inches range. There’s also been some question among Cavs bloggers as to whether LBJ might have grown just a bit in height, since he entered the League.

    Kobe is listed at 205lbs., while LeBron is listed at 250lbs., but everyone agrees that in reality, 265lbs. is the absolute bare minimum. Most agree that 275lbs. and up is most likely, these days. Sports Illustrated just recently wrote that he is heavier than most centers. Even if you go with the 265lbs., which everyone agrees is bare minimum and likely lower than reality, that’s a 60lb. difference. If you go with the more popular assumption among bloggers — nobody knows, because LeBron won’t tell — which is around 275lbs., that’s a 70lb. difference. Pretty much what I said. And like I said, some say closer to 285lbs. None of this is coming from me — this is all what everyone else is saying.

    What we do know is that Kobe tends to hedge over, wanting to give larger players the impression that there’s less of a size difference than there actually is. Meanwhile, we know that LeBron’s listed numbers are low, that he looks much bigger than he did when those numbers were first listed, and that keeping his weight a secret is all part of his mystique.

    You know what else is interesting to me? When people are talking about how incredible LeBron is, they love to marvel at his physique… and that’s when they go on and on about how he’s one of the biggest players in the league — heavier than most centers — but also one of the quickest and fastest. But when it comes to talking about his failure to exploit such a huge physical mismatch, they want to downplay the size difference. Suddenly, the 3-4 inches and 70-80 pounds that would mathematically be the difference based on the claims they’ve made about LeBron are exaggeration and hyperbole.

    Besides, even if it’s only 2-3 inches and 50-60 pounds, it’s still an almost unthinkable physical advantage.

    As for the game, those actually aren’t my words. They were the words of another blogger, who, as it happens, is not at all a Lakers fan (better or worse, depending on the night). That day, he was having a terrible day, and he was in a very anti-Lakers mood. We IM’d the entire game, and we disagreed on every single thing during that game, except Kobe.

    But despite his blatant desire to see the Lakers lose and not give them credit anywhere, that night, it was him, not me, that was constantly praising Kobe’s defense on LeBron. He had laughed at the idea of Kobe guarding LeBron before the game, but time and time again, he’d say, “Kobe is murdering LeBron right now. With good defense” and “Great man D by Kobe”. And he was right.

    Did we use some help D against him? Yes. But everyone’s acting like that’s the only thing the Lakers did to him, when in reality, they used it a lot less than everyone wants to admit. Re-watch the game; I’ve got it on my laptop, if you don’t. Very often, Kobe took LeBron on defense, and as often as not, it was Kobe keeping him out of the paint and hassling him into a poor shooting night.

    If I made “it seem like Kobe was checking LeBron every possession and single-handedly locking him down” then that wasn’t my intention. But don’t act like it was all help D. Because Kobe did do quite a lot of man defense on LeBron, and was extremely effective at it. It was a combination of the two, but even then — if you really think about it, I think you know that if Kobe was 6’8″/265-285 and LeBron was 6’5″/205, Kobe would have eaten LeBron’s lunch every time he saw man coverage. And LeBron couldn’t do that to Kobe.

    And when the help did come, Kobe would have had easy options for picking the Cavs apart. But LeBron was limited in that area, as well.

    I’m not trying to embellish, and I’m not saying Kobe single-handedly shut down LeBron (you’ll notice you were the first to use the term “shut down,” I never said he did that). I’m just saying that he played a lot more man defense on LeBron than anyone is talking about, and when he did, he was infinitely more effective than a player with such a size advantage should have been.

    Last question: If Kobe was 6’8″/265-285, LeBron was 6’5″/205, LeBrong guarded Kobe, and Kobe had the kind of game LeBron had… what do you think people would be saying about Kobe?

    Here’s a hint: It’s the exact thing they’re all staying quite mum about since it’s LeBron.

  45. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 2, 2009 3:05 am

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    Also, Luke Walton absolutely has become the starter this year. That happened in the games prior to his minor foot injury. He started the 11 games prior to his injury, was out for 9 games, and has started the last 6. That means he’s started 17 of his last 17 games.

    Like I said, Radmonovic began the season starting, but PJ finally got as fed up with him as most Lakers fans already were. He’s good for nothing except 3-point shooting. Walton is a better defender, passer, rebounder, ball handler, and most of all, he’s a Triangle Offense expert. Even in games where he wasn’t the starter, the designation was purely nominal, as he’s definitely the better player.

    Take it from someone who’s watched all but 2 or 3 Lakers games this year. Putting Walton in for Kobe against Charlotte sucked, though it was probably necessary. But Walton should always start over Radmonovic. And ever since December 10th, that is exactly what he has done.

    Like I said, we were missing one-and-a-half starters, another (our superstar) was injured and in tons of pain, and our bench was much shallower than usual. It was pretty much a wash.

  46. Brittney says...February 2, 2009 8:36 pm

    8-12 weeks for Bynum…Whew!!! I know the Lakers will be fine because this is now the same group that made it to the Finals plus Trevor so we still are good to go but I have a feeling this year will be different and Bynum may be back way before April. Lets keep a collective positive mind for Andrew. 

  47. Willie says...February 2, 2009 10:46 pm

    Kobe drops 61 in the Garden, shooting 61%+ while doing it! This is why I say nobody can score like Kobe, ever. He didn’t just get hot for a game, he wasn’t on a roll, it’s not a fluke, he willed it. Knowing that Bynum is out and the team may be “down”, he purposfully went out and dropped 61. Even Phil Jackson said awhile back that he’s never seen anyone able to will himself into a scoring spree like Kobe, and you know who Phil coached.
     
    Hate to see Bynum out but hope others take it as an opportunity to step up.

  48. TheVoiceofReason says...February 3, 2009 2:32 am

    @ Josh
    Alright man you’re right.  Kobe is 6’3” 185lbs.  LeBron is 6’10” 299 lbs.  Kobe’s playing with a broken knee, a separated shoulder, and 6 broken toes and a bruised sternum.  He also walks on water and has the solution to our nation’s financial crisis.  GEEZ the myopic perspective of Kobe fans, LeBron fans, and Wade fans can be unreasonable.

    @Willie

    Whoa Nellie. Let’s not even invoke that name that you’re alluding to. Different players in different eras with very different rules. Let’s appreciate and respect what the Mamba did, but let’s not get carried away.

  49. Willie says...February 3, 2009 8:02 am

    I don’t feel I got carried away at all. Just mentioned what Phil alledgedly said (it’s been awhile so I don’t remember when or the exact quote but Phil said something like that.) Sorry, I’m not one of those who feel it’s blasheme to mention MICHAEL JORDAN and Kobe in the same sentence. I wasn’t even comparing their “games” just mentioned what someone who coached them both said about one aspect of the game.

    Relax, MJ’s legacy is not being attacked. I’m one who has said it’s virtually impossible to compare era’s (which is why I’m reluctant to call MJ the GOAT), but if Kobe breaks some record of MJ’s or excels him in some way I’m going to give Kobe his props. For years I’ve heard from MJ fans about the “double nickel” he dropped in the garden, now it’s my turn!

  50. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 3, 2009 3:55 pm

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    All you really did there was mock me — which leads to the incorrect assumption that the mockery is deserved. I gave you concrete numbers, and a very reasonable explanation of the numbers I cited. What have you responded with? Derision. And then you call me “myopic”?

    That’s called an ad hominem argument, and it’s a fallacy. Instead of repeatedly impugning me, why not respond with an actual, reasoned argument?

    Meanwhile: If I’m a “myopic” Kobe fan, does that make you a “myopic” Jordan fan? Bryant may not be the GOAT — and no one here is saying he is — but it’s hard to question that he is the greatest scorer since Wilt.

    And how about Wilt?

    If you discount Wilt’s dominance, as many do, because of the “era” he played in, and his size relative to the rest of the league at the time, then you’d be hard pressed not to say that Kobe is the greatest scorer of all time. At the very least, he’s a strong candidate, and very much in the discussion.

    For the unconvinced:

    • Both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have scored 60+ points on 5 different occasions.
    • Jordan never broke 70 points. His highest scoring game was 69 points, and required overtime to get there.
    • Kobe scored 81 points in a game, and did it without the help of any overtime periods.
    • Of Jordan’s 5 games over 60 points, the top 4 required overtime — one of them (his third highest, 63) required double overtime.
    • Of Bryant’s 5 games over 60 points, only 1 of them required overtime.
    • Kobe’s 62 against Dallas would rank 4th on Jordan’s list — and he did it in 3 quarters, while all of Jordan’s Top 4 required OT (as already mentioned). In that game, Kobe was on pace for 82, but sat out the 4th because he’d single-handedly outscored the Mavericks through three quarters and the game was already a blowout.

    Given all of that, I don’t think it is a stretch at all to suggest that Kobe is the second best scorer of all time, behind Wilt.

    Now, if you don’t discount Wilt’s dominance — I can tell you that Willie certainly doesn’t — then Kobe would be in the mix for second best scorer of all time. But if you’re not going to discount Wilt because of his “context,” then I hardly see how Jordan could be considered the GOAT. Either Wilt, for his individual dominance, or Russell, for his success (read: rings) would get the nod over Jordan.

    Either way, the Greatest Of All Time is either Wilt, Russell, or Jordan (notice how I didn’t put Kobe’s name in there?) — and the greatest scorer of all time is either Wilt or Kobe.

  51. Brittney says...February 3, 2009 5:17 pm

    I finally miss a game and Kobe goes off, first the superbowl and then this, ya’ll can’t believe how frustrating moving from NY to GA is begining to suck and on top of that I had plans to be at the game but MY MOTHER ends up booking plane tickets on superbowl sunday…really who does that??? but anyway enough about my terrible trip back to the game vs. Knicks.

    Kobe just put on a display of his offensive talent and any fan of basketball has to appreciate his skills. Kobe can do it all and thats what I call a complete player, he didn’t just put up points in the paint, he did it with his jumpshot, the footwork, the three point shooting. Any hater or doubter, just ask yourself what can’t Kobe do?? You need him to pass, he can do it, you need a bucket, he can do it, you need him to play D, he can do that. You know you’re a hater when you can’t apperciate art and you can’t positivly give credit where credit is due and I’m glad I can watch Kobe at his best. Lakers will be fine. 

  52. TheVoiceofReason says...February 4, 2009 11:32 pm

    @ Josh and Willie
    I never said that it’s blasphemous to compare Jordan and Kobe as scorers.  Reread the post.
    To Josh, my derision was with regard to your statements regarding the size of Kobe and LeBron.  You claim you gave me “concrete numbers.”  Really?  All you said was you read in a SI Article that Kobe was 6’4” or 6’5” at the most.  Then you went on to say that LeBron is 6’8” or 6’9” and between 265-285 pounds based on hearsay and what they say on the blogs.  So I ask, what is concrete about that?  That sir, is what I call speculation.  My issue with your argument was that you were minimizing the physical size of Kobe and maximizing the size of LeBron as if YOU have the tape measurer.  You said that LeBron was 3 or 4 inches taller than Kobe.  I disagree.  The derision came because you were in my opinion, grossly exaggerating the size disparity.  There IS a size disparity, LeBron is bigger, but I’m sorry if I don’t believe it’s 3-4 inches and 50-70 pounds.  Maybe I need to get my eyes checked.

    I never disputed Kobe’s scoring abilities.  Here was my issue Willie.  You said, and I quote “nobody can score like Kobe, ever” and that Phil had said he’s “never seen anyone able to will himself into a scoring spree like Kobe.”  Here was my issue.  The first statement is mighty bold, and the second one I would need to see a citation and source.  I think you may have misquoted or taken Jackson’s comments out of context.  Now on to the Jordan and Kobe comparison.  You can post as many stats and numbers as you want Josh, but it’s not an apples to apples comparison when you compare the eras.  Can we definitively say Barry Bonds is the greatest home-run hitter of all time?  It’s tough to make the statement when you consider what Babe Ruth did in the era that he played in (the dead ball era, where NOBODY was hitting HRs like that).  Different eras, different rules.  Jordan played in an era where hand checking was allowed on the perimeter; similarly a lot of the touch fouls that they call in today’s game were not called back then.  In this day in age, we see several guys average double digit free-throw attempts like it’s nothing.  Remember when Wade shot an absurd 25 free-throws in the Finals?  If you sneezed on the guy, he went to the line.  Just a few years ago, 6’1” Tony Parker led the league in pts in the paint.  That simply wouldn’t happen in the Magic, Bird, Jordan era.  So in conclusion, all I was saying was let’s fall back before we try to make apples to oranges comparisons, b/c it’s too tough.  You can’t just say this guy has X number of 50 pt games, and that guy has only Y number of 50 pt. games, so therefore X must be the better scorer.  I don’t feel it works like that.

  53. jmn says...February 5, 2009 6:06 am

    For one of the finest examples of Kobe-hating in recent times, read the following articles by SI.com’s Paul Forrester.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/paul_forrester/02/03/kobe.scores.61/index.html
    This first one follows Kobe’s 61 against the Knicks. Just notice how Paul looks for every negative thing he can derive (he mentions no rebounds, and a “mere” 3 assists) while trying his best to deviate from the fact that the man just broke the NBA scoring record at MSG. He also has to bring in Lebron who according to Paul, “neutralized” Kobe during their last meeting. The whole point of the article BTW being that Kobe scoring 61 point is an ominous sign for the Lakers that Kobe will start jacking up random shots every game “all over again”.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/paul_forrester/02/05/lebron.msg/index.html
    Now in this article about Lebron’s 52, take a look at how shamelessly Paul Forrester gushes over Lebron.

    This guy picks two great games by two great players, and shamelessly finds reasons to put down the perfomance of the player he doesn’t like while going on the total other extreme for the player he does like.

    I feel sorry for guys like Forrester – their in-built “pick-and-choose” biases prevent them from truely enjoying the game of basketball.

  54. Willie says...February 5, 2009 1:04 pm

    @ VOR,
    When someone says: “Whoa Nellie. Let’s not even invoke that name that you’re alluding to”. That strongly suggests to me that they think it is blasphemous to mention the name. You mean I can’t even mention his name!!? 

    As far as Phil’s comment, I know what I heard, if you choose not to believe without documented proof, thats cool to. It’s not worth spending the the time, past the 5 mins that I did researching it.

    Kobe’s scoring: I stand by my initial statement “nobody can score like Kobe” and will even put it another way. Considering the variety of way’s he can score along with his output Kobe Bryant is the most lethal offensive weapon ever in the NBA. As I’ve pointed out many times and Josh reinterated, most of the time MJ needed o.t. to break 60pts and btw MJ had rules in his favor also, and he also played against sad teams. He had every opportunity to get 81 or 71 but didn’t. Trust me it wasn’t due to lack of trying. MJ wasn’t always unselfish. MJ not only led the league in scoring, he led in shoot attempts too. Wilt had a limited number of ways he could score and was a freak of nature size wise…even in the 100pt game his team spent the last quarter fouling the opponent so they could get the ball back and get it to Wilt. If the Lakers did that how many would Kobe, the average sized 2 guard, have gotten?

    Kobe’ a serious threat to score from inside to 3pt land, and in every imaginable way.  Dunks? yes, in a variety of ways. Twisting/turning layup? yes. Reverse? yes. Through traffic lay-up? yes. Mid-range? yes. Post-up? yes. Over/through zone defenses? yes. Fadeway w/man/men draped all over him? yes. 18-20 footer? yes. 3-pointer? yes. clutch, please! Isolated one-on-one/get his own shot? ha! Foul line, excellent.

    Name me another player that can do all that at the rate that Kobe can and I’ll back off my position.  (Did this in a rush at work so it may be sloppy)

  55. TheVoiceofReason says...February 5, 2009 1:40 pm

    Willie:
    Once again in no way am I implying that a comparison cannot be made.  I got no dog in the fight; I’m just a guy who respects greatness and excellence in whatever form.  All I’m saying is, let’s taper down some of the hyperbole.  So you stand by your statement that Kobe is the best scorer.  Alright, to each his own.  There is no doubt Kobe can score in a plethora of ways, and he is a significantly better 3 pt shooter than Jordan was.  One thing that I think you must address though is the disparity in FG% both in regular season and playoffs.  The disparity b/t Kobe and Mike is approximately 5% in both the regular season and playoffs.  I’m curious what it is in the Finals; I’m unable to find it.  Secondly, I think you need to address the difference in the defenses from that era to this one.  Due to players’ ability to handcheck and play an all-around more physical game, I believe it was much harder to score as a perimeter player in the ’90s than it is today.  Now, do you accept or dismiss the notion that scoring as a perimeter player today is easier than in the ’90s?

  56. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 5, 2009 2:24 pm

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    I’m going to say this again: Isn’t it convenient how everyone uses the larger numbers to rant and rave about how incredible LeBron is, and how there’s never been anyone like him — and how Kobe will have no chance guarding him — but then they reject them as “speculation” when Kobe actually does pretty well guarding him?

    I said “concrete numbers” — as in, I gave you numbers, not derision. You’ve responded with nothing. I at least gave you a range of numbers to go by. By “concrete,” I do not mean “verifiable” — why would I imply such a thing, when I’ve made it very clear that LeBron refuses to verify, because it adds to the mystique?

    You can choose to believe, or not to believe, whatever you want. But Kobe’s height and weight are right from the horse’s mouth — and perhaps even more telling, right from his wife’s mouth. I consider that pretty credible information, especially given the fact that people tend to be less impressed with small, and more impressed with big. Given that, I think the tendency of someone with Kobe’s ego would be to play to what people want to hear, not to admit that he’s less impressive, physically, than they thought. So when he and his wife admit to his real size, I take that as not necessarily scientific data, but very trustworthy information.

    We also know that Kobe came into the league listed at 6’7″, and is now listed at 6’6″. Again, displays a tendency to exaggerate the official numbers.

    You can choose not to believe what people generally agree upon regarding LeBron’s weight. Given that he refuses to tell us, and we know good and well he’s bigger than he’s listed (since he’s visibly grown quite a lot, in overall size, since he was first listed at 250), speculation is all we have. Going with 250 because that’s the low-ball number the NBA lists is as inaccurate as going with the speculation. Everyone agrees he’s at least 265, and most agree he’s bigger than that. You don’t have to believe it. But then, I’m not your pastor, so what you believe doesn’t really matter to me.

    But the widely accepted information is that he’s at least 265. That, combined with what I consider to be trustworthy information from the horse’s mouth about Kobe’s height, tells me there’s a minimum of 3-4 inches and 60 pounds difference. You want to squabble over the extra 10 pounds? Well, I stand by my choice to go with the generally accepted perspective here, but even if you don’t, you’re basically squabbling over semantics.

    I mean, really. All this to do over semantics? Over 60 pounds instead of 70? Guess what — go with 60 pounds, and the conclusion is still the same: LeBron should have dominated Kobe. He didn’t even come close.

  57. TheVoiceofReason says...February 5, 2009 2:40 pm

    @ Josh
    Hahah.  Alright man.  You win.  I guess you’re right. So despite what our own EYES say with regard to Kobe when he stands next to 6’4” Wade, 6’7” Paul Pierce, and 6’8” TMac, Kobe is 6’5”. And you’re right, LeBron has NEVER had a good game against Kobe.  We should base all of our thoughts on that one, solitary meeting. LeBron can NEVER get it done against Kobe, EVER.   Vanessa Bryant called, she said she wants her man’s c*ck back.  Hyperbolic statements, then when someone calls you out on it, it’s semantics.  Didn’t mean to hit a nerve.  I’m done with it man.  Kobe’s my favorite player and the best playing, but this site is just ridiculous.  There’s no adult-like debates or discourse; it’s just a d*ckriding contest.  Absolutely no objectivity, perspective, or reason.  Don’t worry though man, I won’t be back; I’ll just stick to law school, and leave the dickriding to y’all.

  58. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 5, 2009 3:18 pm

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    First, look up True Shooting Percentage. When you’re looking at FG%, you’re essentially evaluating scoring efficiency. But as I’ve discussed here, FG% is a very poor way of evaluating scoring efficiency. TS%, on the other hand, is excellent. And you’ll find that Jordan and Kobe are virtually identical in that area. Some years, Kobe’s better.

    The explanation is in their styles of play. Kobe takes more threes; he also shoots better from three. The 3-point shot is an inherently lower percentage shot — but it’s typically a more efficient shot. Case in point: Take 20 two-point shots, and 20 threes. Make 50% of your two-pointers, that’s 20 points. Make 40% of your three-pointers, that’s 24 points. Lower percentage, but more points — better offensive efficiency. Jordan went to the hole more, and shot worse from long distance. Kobe takes more threes, and shoots pretty well from there — driving his percentage down, but his efficiency up.

    Willie can probably give you more examples, but here’s a key difference between Jordan’s era and Kobe’s which no one likes to talk about: Zone defense. Jordan never had to play against zone defense. He never had to deal with being double- and triple-teamed before he even touched the ball. That could only happen after (one additional side effect of this: you can imagine that it must be harder to get free for a game-winner with 2 or 3 guys on you, rather than just one). Bryant sees the double and triple much earlier than Jordan typically did, making it easier to defend him.

    Also — and Willie, you probably have a better recollection of this than I do, so correct me if I’m wrong — but weren’t the hand check rules enacted in the 1994-95 season? Which would mean that Jordan’s second stint in the NBA, after his first retirement, was all during the hand check era. And isn’t it interesting to notice that after the hand check was implemented, he only scored 50 points 5 times, and never again scored more than 55. Doesn’t look like eliminating hand checking made Jordan suddenly a better scorer.

    Meanwhile, Kobe’s been unstoppable despite the new allowance of zone defenses.

    Also, you’re not remembering very well, regarding fouls and free throws:

    Jordan played in an era where hand checking was allowed on the perimeter; similarly a lot of the touch fouls that they call in today’s game were not called back then. In this day in age, we see several guys average double digit free-throw attempts like it’s nothing. Remember when Wade shot an absurd 25 free-throws in the Finals? If you sneezed on the guy, he went to the line.

    Some facts for you:

    • Michael Jordan averaged 8.18 free throws per game for his career. That’s even including those last two years in Washington, where he was old and averaged only 4.63 per game.
    • As a Chicago Bull (i.e., not counting his stint in Washington), he averaged 8.73 free throws per game.
    • Kobe Bryant’s career average is 7.72 free throws per game.
    • Even factoring out Kobe’s first three years (we only factored out 2 for Jordan), he still comes in below Jordan at 8.60 per game.
    • In the Playoffs, Jordan averaged 9.87 free throws per game.
    • In the Playoffs, Kobe has averaged only 7.11 free throws per game.
    • Jordan owns all of the following Free Throw records:
      • Attempts in a half: 23
      • Attempts in a quarter: 16
      • Makes in a half: 20
      • Makes in a quarter: 14 (twice!)
    • Kobe doesn’t own a single one.

    So don’t tell me guys like Kobe are benefiting from touch fouls Jordan didn’t get. Jordan invented the touch foul. There’s a reason that when Wade was getting his calls in the Finals, everyone was saying he was getting “Jordan treatment.” And yes, it made it much harder to defend Jordan, and it made it much easier for him to score.

    I believe that answers all of your questions.

  59. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 5, 2009 3:34 pm

    @TheVoiceofReason,

    So despite what our own EYES say with regard to Kobe when he stands next to 6′4” Wade, 6′7” Paul Pierce, and 6′8” TMac, Kobe is 6′5”…

    Funny, you don’t like the “what we see with our own EYES” argument when it comes to pointing out that LeBron is probably in the area of 270 to 285 pounds. It’s only a valid argument when you use it?

    And you’re right, LeBron has NEVER had a good game against Kobe. We should base all of our thoughts on that one, solitary meeting. LeBron can NEVER get it done against Kobe, EVER.

    He’s had good games. I never said he didn’t. I just said he wasn’t able to punish Kobe the way he should have. And no matter how you try and get around it, that’s a fact. Even when he’s had better games — and he has, last year — he still wasn’t able to punish Kobe for his size the way he should have. You can resort to sarcasm and derision all you want (pretty sad for a law student), but it doesn’t change the fact that his inability to take advantage of his size tells us one thing very, very clearly: He doesn’t have much of a post-up game.

    Vanessa Bryant called, she said she wants her man’s c*ck back. … it’s just a d*ckriding contest. … I’ll just stick to law school, and leave the dickriding to y’all.

    See, that just makes you look immature, asinine, and stupid. Really, you’re a law student? Good luck.

    Hyperbolic statements, then when someone calls you out on it, it’s semantics.

    It’s semantics because you prefer to focus on the tiny details rather than the point — which remains unchanged. Call it 3 inches and 80 pounds or 2 inches and 50 pounds, either way, he should have taken advantage of his size and completely dominated Kobe. But you can’t recognize the truth in the argument, and would rather debate the details, which actually have no effect on the end result.

    That’s practically the definition of semantics.

    Tell you what: I’ll go with 2 inches and 60 pounds, if you admit that even given those numbers, LeBron should have dominated Kobe with his size, and his inability to shows his complete lack of post-up moves. But you won’t do that, will you?

    No, you prefer to deflect with semantics, ad hominem attacks, mockery, derision, ridicule, rather than actually respond to a single one of the points myself or anyone else on here has raised.

    And you criticize us for a lack of adult-like debates or discourse? Last time I checked, I’m not making references to you being involved in homosexual acts with superstar basketball players. Can you even get a law degree with only a middle school education?

  60. Respect says...February 5, 2009 5:11 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to win that debate, Josh and Willie. Very interesting facts…

  61. Willie says...February 5, 2009 8:01 pm

    @Respect, thanks. I actually had more to say and stayed late at work typing it only to have my computer lock up, and it all was lost. So I’ll try i agaun from home:

    Isn’t it amazing how some say Kobe has an advantage over MJ on offense because Kobe can’t be hand-checked by opponents? Yet they give Kobe no extra credit for his defense because he can’t hand-check his man either? Either you have to say Kobe’s D is even more impressive considering the no hand-check rule or MJ’s D wasn’t as impressive because he had the “advantage” of hand-checking.

    Josh, I’ve looked it up and have used it in debates before but I don’t remember when the hand-check rule was instituted. I sometimes toss that info out of my mind thinking that the person got the point. Silly me, I keep forgetting that there is a long line of knuckleheads out waiting to bash Kobe useless, misinterepreted info.

    Again, MJ is not exempted from having advantages during his era….he could hand-check on D, no zone defense to deal with, 3pt line a step closer for a part of his career…..

    In case Potty Mouth” comes back let me answer your question: “Now, do you accept or dismiss the notion that scoring as a perimeter player today is easier than in the ’90s?”
    I dismiss that notion, too many variables. Is it harder for Kobe to fight through a zone D to get a shot up? yes. Is it harder for Kobe to shoot three’s from a step further out? yes, ask MJ. 

    The 3pt line was moved in during the 94-95 season and moved back out in 97-98, three seasons. Guess what three year stretch in which MJ’s best 3pt shooting occured? Yep, 94-95(.500, he only played 17 games), 95-96 (.427) and 96-97 (.374). After the line was moved back out in 97 he went down to .238 from 3pt land. Ok, he was older then, but that number is higher than the average of his first 8 years in the league of .236. He had a couple good years before the line was moved in, but generally MJ sucked at 3pt shooting. His numbers are skewed by the shorter line and limited number of 3pt shot attempts. Numbers(stats) tell a story, but not the whole story.

    Look, for players of Kobe’s (and MJ’s ability) hand checking or not, ain’t no stopping them. If guys could hand-check Kobe they’ed still get served the same amount! IMO.

    BTW, Potty-Mouth (voiceofreason), I’m still waiting for you to name a player who can do all that kobe can on offense???? I answered your question???

  62. Brittney says...February 5, 2009 11:19 pm

    What a tough win tonight now lets see if we can knock off the Cavs.

  63. Willie says...February 5, 2009 11:35 pm

    Gutty win, tough night for Kobe from the field (except from 3pt range, 50%), but 10rbs, 5 assists, 2blks ain’t bad. Bring on Cleveland.

  64. Brittney says...February 6, 2009 9:00 pm

    Just check this out http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-38-135/Kobe-Bryant-vs–LeBron-James-vs–Boston-s-Defense.html True Hoop displaying some unbias facts about Kobe vs Lebron vs Boston. If the TheVoiceOfReason comes back he can now read someone else point out the size difference between Kobe and Lebron.

  65. Willie says...February 6, 2009 10:34 pm
  66. Brittney says...February 7, 2009 5:57 pm

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-090208
    Here’s more unbias articles on espn.com, it looks like some are getting the picture, Kobe is the man.

  67. Brittney says...February 9, 2009 12:03 am

    Josh is now the time for a Lakers put Cavs on Notice article?? I was shaking after we got down by ten at the half but once again Lakers and Lamar came through and I hope Lamar continues to come through for the Lakers. Definatly a great win.

  68. Brittney says...February 9, 2009 4:45 pm

    Some interesting player evaluation by Mavs owner Mark Cuban, I really don’t get the whole concept of how he got to those numbers so maybe you can take a crack at it Josh http://blogmaverick.com/2009/02/08/nba-all-stars-by-the-numbers/

  69. Josh Tucker (The Apologist) says...February 10, 2009 6:34 am

    @Brittney,

    In a lot of ways, I’m a “by the numbers” guy. For example: Everyone wants to give LeBron credit for an improved jumpshot, but the numbers clearly say that he hasn’t got one.

    But unlike many “by the numbers” guys, there is a limit to what I’ll believe, when it comes to statistics. And this is where people are basically divided into two types, when it comes to statistics. The first type holds the numbers as indisputable and irrefutable, and feels that we must adjust our perceptions to match what statistics tell us. The second type sees statistics of all sorts as very useful tools that can inform our subjective evaluation of players — but still feels that no amount of statistics can replace watching basketball.

    The latter believes that if your numbers show Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol each to be better and more productive players than Kobe Bryant, your numbers are obviously wrong, while the former would say that your perceptions of the best players on the Lakers is wrong. That’s one reason I don’t even bother reading Wages of Wins — the proof is in the pudding.

    I don’t know why guys like Dave Berry and John Hollinger even watch the game. You’d think they’d be more interested in watching a live stat sheet, with automatically updating numbers. Maybe the GameCast is of higher entertainment value to them than the game itself.

    But as you can tell, I’m the second type of person. I believe that in many cases, numbers can tell you a lot. I believe that in a few cases, the numbers tell the whole story. But I also believe that if the numbers tell you that Jason Kidd is better than Chris Paul, they’re the wrong numbers. And if they tell you that Jason Kidd, Andre Iguodala, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Emeka Okafor, and Randy Foye, among others, are all better than Kobe Bryant? You just need to throw your numbers out and start from scratch.

    Also: Cuban tries to claim that this doesn’t necessarily mean “better,” but might mean “more productive” or “better put to use.” Again, watching with your eyes should tell you that few players are more productive or better used than Kobe Bryant in Phil Jackson’s system.

    The conclusion? My take on this is simple: It’s Mark Cuban. Whatever.


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