Kobe Dials Back the Clock in a Loss; OKC Crowd Enjoys Themselves


You have to hand it to Kobe Bean, he’s a big game hunter.  We haven’t seen him unleash the mamba in a game like that in a while.  He scored every which way a player can out there.  Lefty runner, step back three pointers, post up fadeaways, alleyhoops, and powerful drive a dunks.  It looked like he was channeling one of those classic Bird / Wilkins duels from the ’80s and playing both roles at the same time.  He scored 42 points on 33 shots, and that percentage could have been a lot better.  The refs were really letting both teams play with a lot of contact.  The perimeter d had a decidedly ’90s feel to it.

If you had tickets to the game tonight you had to be one happy Thunder fan.  You got to see a classic Kobe Bryant performance and advance to the Western Conference Finals at the same time.  And judging by the noise those fans made, that’s exactly what happened.  That has to be the loudest arena of any playoff team this year.  Good for them!  Hopefully Scotty Brooks isn’t entirely overmatched by Greg Popavich.  Pop has the Spurs humming along as well as any team offense I can remember watching with the one exception being the Showtime Lakers.  San Antonio has this mix read / motion offense that frees up Tony and Timmy to play weakside pick and roll when the ball swings back to them.  Their system make perfect use of roll players, and they have a healthy Manu to provide a wild card.  Good luck young bucks!

LA meanwhile has some decisions to make.  Do they bring this group back and hope they can develop better synergy with a full training camp and full 82 game season together?  Do they try to trade Bynum for Dwight?  Do they buy out Artest and try to get younger on the wing?  Do they turn Gasol into a couple of more athletic pieces?  They have no first round draft pick (I believe they lost that in the Sessions deal).  Their bench needs a lot of help. Kobe doesn’t need to play these monster minutes on his German witchdoctor knees.  Not sure Mike Brown is the long-term answer at coach.  Pretty sure Sessions isn’t the long-term answer at starting point guard.  Mitch Kupcheck is in a tough spot this offseason. 


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5 Responses to “Kobe Dials Back the Clock in a Loss; OKC Crowd Enjoys Themselves”

  1. boyer Says:

    This has to be annoying Kobe immensely to have his teams lollygag through their 2nd straight postseason. The end of Pau start with his awful play in the 2011 playoffs, and while he’s never been that aggressive, this year saw a whole new Pau rarely stepping inside the paint. He has to go, and they should be able to get something for him. Trading bynum for dwight? Duh, that should be done in a heartbeat. Heck, trading the entire team, except Kobe, for dwight, should be done, but obviously not possible.

    Sessions really isn’t that good of a PG. He’s a bottom-level starter or solid backup. And Hill’s a nice backup big, and while I heard reports of both those guys going to make good money on the FA market, that made me laugh, but someone will usually throw around dumb money.

    But, I think Mike Brown is a terrific coach, but a coach can only do so much. He did better this year than Phil did last year. When your bigs deliver such lackluster performances on a regular basis, and you have nothing outside your big 3, what else can you do? The GMs actually voted him as the 4th best coach in the league before the season. He does have the respect within the league, but is a punching bag amongst the media/fans, which comes with coaching a high-profile player or team. Spoelstra isn’t as good as Brown, but he’s not exactly a bad coach either.

    Artest was a pleasant surprise. Kobe was right that he was the one other laker that he could trust. Artest at least played hard and was somewhat effective. But why does Kobe(and Phil did this last year to Pau, too) have to continuously prod Pau to play aggressively? It’s the playoffs, and you’ve been to 3 finals already. Pau wasn’t that good last night, but he actually was fairly aggressive usually, and loads better than bynum. Statheads and most of the media that prop up bynum and pau as legit elite 1st option players are looking pretty stupid now. These guys can occasionally play great, but obviously not consistently, which only a handful of nba players can do.

  2. jpalumbo Says:

    I’m still not sure I like Brown’s offenses. I felt like they were a little too predictable in Cleveland, and I feel the same now. James and Bryant had to do too much creating and not enough finishing for my taste. Last year under Phil, Kobe had the same usage rate and was significantly more efficient (created 6 more points per 100 possessions and actually had a better defensive rating too).

    Maybe it’s asking too much of Brown to match or exceed the great Phil Jackson in his first year as coach, but it worries me the way Kobe had to work outside-in so much this year (like LeBron used to) instead of getting the ball in immediate position to score like he did the last few years. Losing Odom, who is a tremendous post feeder, probably didn’t help either.

    • boyer Says:

      I’m not sure about that. And lebron is a lot different of a player than Kobe is. This was a lockout year, and Kobe was in his 16th season (you have to take these 2 things into account heavily), as well as the lakers getting worse depthwise, somehow. What he did this season given those 2 things is nothing short of amazing, probably the best season ever for someone who’s been in the league 16+years.

      And Kobe had to deal with one of the better bigs in the nba as far as post moves go in bynum, though he’s still quite limited. And Pau occasionally posts up. Lebron, though he never really posted up much in cleveland, anddidn’t have bigs who did this, except briefly with shaq, and his minutes were down in 2010. I felt like Bryant was able to get to his sweet spots very regularly. One of the problems with the lakers is that their spotup shooters overall are atrocious, which made doubling Kobe much easier.

      Brown is defensive minded first, and his teams have portrayed that concept first. He’s a great defensive coach. However, his last few cavs’ teams were excellent offensive teams. Lebron wants open space in the paint and lots of driving lanes with great spotup shooters around him, which is exactly what Brown gave him. And lebron has to have the ball in hands to be effective, which isn’t the case with Kobe. Kobe plays great off the ball, and still forces the defense to heavily pay attention to him when he doesn’t have the ball. I can’t say the same for lebron. Lebron doesn’t work nearly as hard in the halfcourt when he doesn’t have the ball, and the defense doesn’t really need to pay attention to him burning them as much from the perimeter, so they sag off of him more than Kobe.

      I just think Brown is a great coach, and most of his peers recognize that as well. He knows what he’s doing. Kobe and him seemed to get along great this year, even after he sat him down for a few min. in the 4th one game. A coach can only do so much with an aging superstar, 2 lackadaisacal bigs who occasionally show up to play but aren’t always ready to play, and an atrocious supporting cast. Too bad Stern vetoed the Paul trade. The lakers were smart to realize that it was time for Pau to go. Now, it’s probably too late to get much in return.

  3. jpalumbo Says:

    I guess the games I saw, I felt Kobe was having to work too hard to get to his spots this year. Instead of being hit after he took a post up off a cross-screen, he’d have to hold position an extra couple of beats and bully his man. Or if he had a baseline cut available the pass would hit him on the perimeter and he’d have to drive instead of being able to backdoor cut to the rim. In the triangle, teammates recognize (or should anyway) the action before it happens and get the ball to scorers timely.

    The pick and roll with Bynum and Gasol felt a little off too. Not sure if that’s just them though or if it’s because there was less off ball action to draw attention. As for the perimeter shooting being poor… it’s the same guys as last year sans Odom, right?

    What Brown is GREAT at is defensive coordination and ball-control. On those fronts, the team did really well. He also got more out of Bynum than ever before, but in the Lakers games I watched I felt like Kobe was having to work harder than he did last year.

    • boyer Says:

      I didn’t see Kobe working any harder than usual. Sure, it wasn’t easy, but he likes to post up on the wings, and that’s what he did and got often. And the thunder can throw sefolosha and harden at him, very young, athletic and good defenders. And then durant is super long and 6-10 and can play very good defense for a limited time. Harden is very good, but he’s still light years behind Kobe. Sessions is obviously an upgrade from Fisher, but Sessions’ defense is awful as well. Westbrook’s very good, but Sessions, much like Paul against Fisher, made Westbrook look like the best player in the nba at times, though I still have westbrook as 1st team all-nba this year.

      And actually the lakers PG/SG pick n roll is a new wrinkle this year, and it seemed to work well. The best pick n roll for the past few seasons(not this season), was kobe/pau. They ran it great, and did at the end of game 4, but then Pau just thew it away. After watching that replay, Pau had many great options. He had a wide open 15 footer, or he had a good lane to drive with Ibaka late since he was doubling kobe, or Bynum was wide open for an alley-oop dunk. Instead, he not only tried to pass out to kobe, but to MWP, very strange.

      Kobe’s still great, but not as good as he was 2-3 playoffs ago. And the lakers could’ve easily been up 3-1, very impressive if you ask me. The thunder are ridiculously more talented and deeper than the lakers, and their crowd is much better than the lakers’ crowd. But, perhaps the most vital thing is that the lakers weren’t very hungry besides Kobe, while the entire thunder team seems very hungry for the title, and they’re much younger, just a lot more energy from them.

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