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Friday, November 30, 2007

Kobe Strikes Early, Bench Takes Over in Fourth Quarter as Lakers Defeat Nuggets, 127-99

Kobe Bryant guided the Lakers to an 81-75 lead after three quarters and then watched from the bench in the fourth quarter as the Laker reserves outscored Denver, 46-24. Bryant could not have been happier to get the extra rest: "The young fellas came in and took care of business. We have young players who have a lot of heart and who care. And when you have that combination, you have a lot of potential. In the past, I've always been the only guy in the gym really working hard. But now I've got guys in there with me pushing themselves every single day, and that makes a big difference." Despite playing fewer than 30 minutes, Bryant still produced game-high totals in points (24) and assists (seven); he also had six rebounds and played the kind of defense that inspired Boston Coach Doc Rivers to tell TNT's Kevin Harlan that Bryant is playing better defense than any player in the NBA. Sasha Vujacic poured in a career-high 22 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter alone. Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 23 points but he also had a game-worst -30 plus/minus rating--and he was not even on the court for all of the Lakers' fourth quarter run because he was ejected for choking Vujacic. Anthony later said, "It wasn't intentionally done. I hope people don't overreact." It's hard to see how reaching out and grabbing someone by the throat is not intentional and, in light of the two suspensions that Bryant received last season for striking players in the face inadvertently after shooting the ball, it is hard to see how Anthony can avoid being suspended for what he did. Back to Anthony's plus/minus ratio, when a player shoots 11-15 from the floor, leads his team in scoring and his team gets blown out while he is in the game it is obvious that there is a serious problem at the other end of the court. For some inexplicable reason, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith thinks that the Nuggets can win the West; I still think that they will be one of the bottom tier playoff teams and lose once again in the first round. Charles Barkley is coming around to my point of view after his earlier contention that Denver is an "elite" team; Barkley noted that the truly elite teams consistently have a defensive mindset, something that Denver has yet to develop.

Anyone who saw the first part of this game would have never believed that the Lakers could possibly win going away, let alone do so without Bryant scoring 50 or 60 points. Bryant scored the Lakers' first seven points as they took a 7-4 lead but the Nuggets took advantage of L.A.'s sloppy ballhandling and poor shooting to claim an 18-11 advantage by the 4:21 mark. Bryant got his first assist of the game by making a gorgeous no look pass to Ronny Turiaf, whose dunk cut Denver's lead to 22-15. The Nuggets led 33-21 at the end of the first period. Bryant already had 11 points on 5-8 shooting, while the other four Lakers starters scored six points while shooting 2-13 from the field.

Bryant sat out the first 6:09 of the second quarter and Denver pushed the lead to as much as 38-21. TNT's Doug Collins talked about how Kwame Brown's injury has had a domino effect, moving Andrew Bynum (12 points, 13 rebounds) into the starting lineup and upsetting the chemistry of the bench. Collins has a point but would a truly good team be that dependent on the contributions of a career journeyman like Brown? The answer to that question is obviously, "No." Bynum is an improving player but he is still inconsistent. Take a good look at the Lakers' top six players other than Bryant in terms of minutes played per game: Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Vladimir Radmanovic. How many of those guys would be a top seven player on any of the really good Western Conference teams? Fisher was the fifth leading scorer for the Utah Jazz last year when they made it to the Conference Finals but this season he is in a dead heat with Odom to be the Lakers' second leading scorer. Think of it this way: several of the top Western teams are so deep that they have All-Star caliber players coming off of the bench (Manu Ginobili, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry) who would not only start for the Lakers but would arguably be the second best player on the team.

Bryant returned to action at the 5:51 mark. He promptly spoonfed Odom for a layup after Odom had missed his first nine shots from the field. Bryant then made two free throws after being fouled on a strong drive. The Lakers pulled to within one point, 52-51, after Bryant made a no look bounce pass that Odom converted into a layup. Bryant hit two jumpers in the last minute, including a buzzer beater, and Denver only led 57-55 at halftime. Bryant had 17 points and three assists, while Anthony led Denver with 16 points.

The Lakers opened the third quarter with a 13-0 run. Bynum split a pair of free throws and then Bryant drove to the hoop and once again fed Odom for a layup, giving the Lakers a 58-57 lead. An Anthony jumper finally put Denver on the board in the second half but the Lakers answered with a Luke Walton jumper and a bank shot by Bryant, who caught the ball at the top of the key outside the three point line, drove into the paint and tried to shoot a pullup jumper over Kenyon Martin. When Martin stopped that move, Bryant leaned in to take away Martin's ability to jump, then faded away and kissed his shot off of the glass. This is one example of what I mean when I talk about Bryant's skill set and why he is better than other players: he has three point range, so defenders have to crowd him on the perimeter, making it even easier for him to get in the paint. Then, even if a long, good defender like Martin recovers and stops Bryant from executing his first option, Bryant has the footwork, body control and shooting touch to still create an open, high percentage shot. In contrast to what Bryant did on that play, consider a sequence that happened a little bit later in the quarter: Odom received the ball at the three point line not far from where Bryant drove on Martin. Odom was wide open but he instead took two dribbles right into the teeth of the defense and missed a contested jumper. "Made a tough shot out of an easy one," Collins noted. Yes, that is just one play, but it represents the difference between the way that Bryant plays and the way that Odom plays. I'm not talking about talent--we all understand that Bryant is a more talented player than Odom; what I'm talking about is that Bryant just has a better sense of how to play: when to shoot and when to pass, what kind of shot to take depending on how he is being guarded, how to use good footwork to get open (with or without the ball), how to defend without fouling (Odom picks up a ton of cheap fouls) and so forth. This does not mean that Bryant is perfect or that he never takes a bad shot--but it is why so many players and coaches who compete against him on a nightly basis say that he is the best player in the league. As Collins put it, Bryant can make something that is very difficult look easy--and I would add that this is a much better trait than Odom's method of turning something easy into something difficult.

Bryant had seven points and four assists in the third quarter as the Lakers outscored the Nuggets, 26-18. On one play late in the quarter, Bryant grabbed an offensive rebound, drew two defenders and delivered another no look feed, this time to Turiaf, whose dunk put the Lakers up 81-68. Anyone who thinks that Bryant cannot pass, will not pass or is not a good passer simply is not paying attention; he is not just a good or adequate passer--he is a great passer because he is able to deliver the ball on target in a number of different ways (bounce pass, baseball pass, shovel pass, no look pass, etc.) and he can do so in tight quarters. So why doesn't Bryant average as many assists as LeBron James, Steve Nash or other players who are known as great passers? One obvious reason is that Bryant has some teammates who do not catch and/or shoot particularly well (Pete Maravich had the same problem during his career). Another reason is that in many cases Bryant makes the first pass out of the trap to start a play but the second, ball reversal pass ultimately is awarded with an assist (if the shot is made, of course). In this particular game, Bryant had the ball in a lot of situations in which he could make a pass that led directly to a basket, but the passes that he consistently makes out of double teams are very important even if they are not recorded as assists; Hakeem Olajuwon never averaged more than four apg during the regular season (he did so a few times during some playoff seasons) but he made great passes out of the post which led to another pass and a wide open shot. As Hubie Brown always says, the second pass out of the trap is the one that leads to a wide open shot.

Bryant sat out at the start of the fourth quarter. Coach Phil Jackson surely planned to reinsert him in the game around the 7:00 mark or so but by that time the Lakers were up 20 points, so he took advantage of the opportunity to rest his star player. After all, there will be plenty of nights when the Lakers need a 15 or 20 point fourth quarter from Bryant, so any rest that he can get now is very beneficial. This is not a great Lakers team by any means but Bynum is developing, Fisher is solid as always, Jordan Farmar is becoming a good second unit point guard and Odom is a useful--if somewhat overrated--player. Bryant is productive enough--and attracts enough extra defensive attention, freeing up his teammates for easy shots--that this team could possibly win 50 games if everything breaks right. The problem is that over an 82 game season it is not reasonable to expect everything to break right; someone will get hurt or go into a slump and the Lakers will once again end up in the 40-45 win range.

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posted by David Friedman @ 8:06 AM

18 comments

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18 Comments:

At Friday, November 30, 2007 5:32:00 PM, Blogger vednam said...

Come on David. Although I agree with your general point about the Lakers lacking in talent, you know as well as I do that just because Ginobili and Terry come of the bench, it's not a result of the Spurs or Mavs having so much talent that there's no space for them in the starting lineups. Terry is probably the third-best player on the Mavs, and Ginobili is at least the third-best player on the Spurs (and arguably the second-best player).

The Lakers are not that bad compared to other teams as far as having guys who can score (I think their offense could be very powerful if they focused on running more). It's their defense which is really lacking. Walton and Radmanovic can't guard anyone, Odom always looks really clumsy and is a bit below average IMO, Farmar is undersized, Fisher tries hard but is too slow for quick guards, and Bynum is a work in progress.

Having said all that, many of the top defensive teams are much more than the sum of their parts. The Celtics have an excellent defender in Garnett, a young improving defender in Rondo, and three guys who supposedly don't play defense in Perkins, Allen, and Pierce. The Spurs have two top defenders in Bowen and Duncan, but most of their other guys are not exactly noted for being good defenders. Sometimes I wonder how the Celtics and Spurs can do it, but the Lakers can't. Any ideas?

 
At Saturday, December 01, 2007 12:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

regggie

the lakers lack in talent bu t are better than people think they are, they just got to be a little bit more consisten then they usually are thats it for real they ca be a playoff team that is though, they are young still it will take some time for them

 
At Saturday, December 01, 2007 2:55:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

Manu would definitely be the second best player on the Lakers and one could make a case that Terry would be as well; there is no way that either player would ever be coming off of the bench if he were on this current Lakers team. Their squads can afford the luxury of bringing them off of the bench because those teams have so much talent and so much depth that they can bring an All-Star level player off of the bench without hurting the starting lineup. At least this year the Lakers have a legit starting point guard and not a D-League player like Smush Parker. My point is that the Lakers' roster is so much worse than that of the top five or six teams in the West that I don't understand how people can blame Kobe for this team not winning 50 games; without Kobe, this would be one of the worst teams in the league. Think about it: if Kobe got hurt and Odom and Fisher were suddenly the top two players, which team would have a worse 1-2 punch than that? Bynum has talent and potential but he doesn't get it done yet on a night in, night out basis and he certainly would perform worse without Kobe on the court attracting extra defenders.

As for why the Spurs and Celtics play better defense than the Lakers, one obvious thing that those teams have that the Lakers don't is an excellent defensive big man (even though I still think that KG should block more shots, there is no question that he is a very good defender). Kobe can lock down one guy and/or roam around and be disruptive but he cannot plant himself in the paint and deter other teams from driving to the hoop. Jackson is certainly a defensive minded coach, so I would say that the Lakers' problems on defense are threefold:

1) No dominant shot blocker to anchor the paint.

2) Injuries have constantly disrupted the rotation, particularly in the frontcourt (Odom, Brown, Mihm).

3) Many players on the roster do not appear to have bought into the mindset to be tough defensively and/or possess below average athletic skills to guard players at their own position.

 
At Saturday, December 01, 2007 3:11:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Their inconsistency is a big part of the problem. As Charles Barkley like to say, everybody in the NBA has talent. The Lakers' young players are not consistent and that is why the team is so up and down. I'm not overly impressed with the Lakers' talent. Bynum is an improving big man who could become very good but is not there yet. Farmar is a nice bench player who may become a starting quality player at some point. I love Fisher's grit and savvy but he is not a great player like Nash, Tony Parker or Deron Williams. Odom has been overrated for years. Turiaf is a nice energy guy. Walton is a good passer. Ariza is a nice athlete but it usually takes guys at least a year to learn the Triangle so I don't know how much he will get on the court this season. Guys like Vujacic, Radmanovic and Mihm are just average NBA players. The bench looked good in the fourth quarter against Denver but that told us as much about Denver as it did about L.A. Bench players also can play a bit looser when they have a lead and when they know that if things get shaky Kobe will come back in the game to restore order. Without Kobe, each guy's minutes and responsibilities would increase and his productivity would go down.

 
At Saturday, December 01, 2007 9:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

the lakers arent that talented but they been winning 45 games the last 3 years, kobe a great player in all but he simply has not carried a team so far post shaq other than the first round. i would like to see kobe on a more talented team to end the jordan debate once and for all and show what kobe could do with a better team. i think people will see kobe should of never been compared to jordan because he simply not as good, lebron james is the guy who should and has rightfully been compared to jordan. i think kobe is a top 10 player all time but not top 5 like james and jordan.

 
At Sunday, December 02, 2007 12:57:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

KG, Allen and Pierce each could not even make the playoffs last year. Kobe has done the most that he could with the Lakers since the Shaq trade.

I don't know what Jordan debate you are talking about. I've never said that Kobe is as good as Jordan was. As for what Kobe can do with a better team, we've already seen that: he won three rings as an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team player. We also saw what Kobe did this summer with Team USA.

Kobe is not yet in my top ten players of all-time and LeBron has not played long enough to be in the top ten, let alone the top five.

 
At Sunday, December 02, 2007 9:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

im talking about james and jordan not garnett pierce and allen david i know he better than them he is not jordan. and people have for years compared him to mike and he was never worthy, and he won 3 rings but it was shaq as the leader as a team im talking about him as the leader of a team not behind somebody he could possibly do it but he needs a superstar superstar player like garnett or sombody as good as him james and jordan dont pippen was not as good as mike and nobody on james team was as good as him.

 
At Monday, December 03, 2007 1:44:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Again, I've never said that Kobe is better than MJ so I don't know why you keep posting comments here about that issue.

At the end of close games, who had the ball on the Lakers' championship teams? Kobe did, because he could create for himself or a teammate and because he shot free throws better than Shaq does. Those teams win 0 titles without Kobe, so who you call 1a and 1b is irrelevant. One year they were both in the top five in MVP voting, so to act like one guy was not pulling his weight or something is just silly.

MJ and Pip are each on the 50 Greatest Player List, while Shaq and Kobe are two of the top five players of this era and would easily be on the top 50 list if a new one were made now. Most championship teams have a great 1-2 punch, with a couple notable exceptions being the ensemble casts of the '79 Sonics and '04 Pistons.

Kobe does not have to prove that he can play on a high level on a championship team because he has already done that three times. KG, Pierce and Allen have yet to make it to the Finals as option 1,2,3 or anything else. They are the stars who have something to prove and they would be the first to admit that.

 
At Monday, December 03, 2007 7:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

people have compared kobe to jordan not saying you but they were wrong jordan on his own level and kobe great but not there.

shaq had the ball at end of games alot of times as well during the championship years, they could not won the ring without him and just shaq but they could of won with 2 or 3 other players at that time with shaq. not saying he didnt pull his weight he didnt mean as much as shaq to the team.

i know that but jordan won the ring without a superstar superstar pippen was a great player but kareem had magic and bird had mchale and parish, jordan had pippen thats it he did more with less than anybody kobe had shaq and shaq was jordan on his team he was pippen.

kobe legacy will not be complete without a ring without shaq he has never proven to be a great leader of a team pippen even proved he could carry ateam to the second round and brink of championship in portland to never get by the first round after shaq left unexcusable if you claim he is as good as you claim david.

 
At Monday, December 03, 2007 8:05:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Look at KG--the media will probably give him the MVP this year and for three seasons he could not even make it to the playoffs. Did he suddenly improve this season? No, he just has more help around him. Kobe has been carrying an otherwise lottery-bound team to the playoffs. We have already seen that he can perform well in the NBA Finals and the Conference Finals, so he has nothing to prove in that regard. Of course, like anyone else, if he wins more titles it will enhance his legacy but it's not like there is something missing now--other than the MVPs that he should have been awarded for the past two seasons.

Pippen is a Top 50 player just like the Top 50 players that Bird and Magic played alongside. It is not true that MJ had no help. The league in general had expanded, so all teams had less depth than the 80s teams did. I'd take Pip in his prime over any single one of those guys other than Kareem (I'm talking about Parish, McHale, Worthy).

 
At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 12:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

he could play well on championship teams but that was not as the lead guy prove your a leader and you could lead a team to the champioship as the man. i know he doesnt have the team now and he is better than garnett i already said that, he will enhance his leagacy if he wins more to the level shaq and jordan and bird and magic are now but if he dont he is on the second level is my point not with the best of the best. garnett has had one 50 win seasons in minnesota with no help on 01-02 and 02-03 before any help came so kobe should beable to win 50 games at least with this team to me.

he had mchale and parish jordan just had pippen magic had kareem and worhty not just worthy, there you go makeing up stuff i nver said jordan won with no help? i said he won more with less than the rest of the all time greats you had no argument so you make something up come on david. kobe going to have to win another ring to prove he an all time great.

 
At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 2:59:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I don't know what it will take to cure you of your fixation on this "lead guy" business. A player who is on the All-NBA First Team and the All-Defensive Team is a "lead guy." The Lakers had two "lead guys." Shaq was a dominant post player and Kobe was a tremendous wing player at both ends of the court.

You said that MJ and James don't need a superstar alongside them to win and that this makes them better than Kobe. The MJ stuff is old; I already told you that I never said that Kobe is better than MJ--but you are also wrong about what MJ needed to win, because Pip was most certainly a superstar. As for LeBron, he has not won one title yet, let alone six, so it is too early to say what he does or does not need to win a title. Duncan had a couple All-Stars helping him, plus one of the NBA's best defenders. As for MJ winning with less than the other all-time greats, you missed my point that he was also playing against teams that had less depth because the league had expanded.

 
At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 10:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

being vital player and being the best is two diffrent things shaq was the best player on the laker teams he was jordan kobe was pippen just a better scoreing version. theres onlone lead role and shaq played during those years. kobe needs to win a ring or two to belong with shaq q bird and magic and jordan. nuthing you say will change that david he is not on that level until he wins as the lead guy.


james had no superstar and got to finals. jordan had pippen who was a superstar but not kobe level or shaq level superstar, bird had mchale and parish magic had karrem and worthy alot more than mj ever had everybody knows he better than kobe. bottom line mj could win with less than kobe could mj could take a team farther than kobe if they had the samemagic and o exact team i bet my life on it so could lebron bird magic and definetely shaq.

 
At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 6:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

OK, is Elgin Baylor in your top ten all-time? He was never the "lead" guy on a championship team. In fact, he never won a ring at all. Your "theory" is nonsense. I'm not saying that Shaq was not the best player on the Lakers during the title years; I am saying that the Lakers had two superstar, All-NBA players and that they would not have won a single title without either guy, so talking about who the "lead" guy was is a waste of time.

MJ's playoff record without Pippen: 1 win, 9 losses. Kobe led the Lakers to three wins versus the Suns a couple years ago. Even though I have said approximately 10 million times that Kobe is not better than MJ, I disagree that MJ could have taken this particular Lakers team farther than Kobe has (assuming that the Lakers have the same injuries in both scenarios, of course). The Lakers are a lottery team without Kobe. Add a superstar to a lottery team and you improve that team by 15-20 wins. Even if we say that MJ was worth 20 wins and Kobe 15, the playoff seeding would essentially be the same; the Lakers would be a lower seed and would lose to whoever they faced, whether they had MJ or Kobe. Kobe is an All-D player just like MJ and Kobe averaged more ppg after the All-Star break last year than any player has since Wilt, so I'd love to hear you explain specifically what MJ would have done with last year's team that Kobe did not do. Would MJ have averaged 40 ppg? Would he have guarded the big guys who torched Bynum? Would he have guarded the point guards who skated by Smush? The one thing he might have done that Kobe did not do is knock Smush out in practice; MJ was not above punching teammates (including Steve Kerr once) and he would have tired of Smush's act in about a minute and a half.

 
At Thursday, December 06, 2007 12:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

no i would not put elgin baylor in the top ten all time he never won a ring even though he was great. shaq first was the best player the leader gets the credit the second guy is not the same as the first if this was the case people would respect kobe more than they do. you have to be the best player on the team to get the ultimate respect. he is not bird magic and jordan or shaq they were the leaders of they team he is on the level with pippen and mchale parish worhty are they top ten all time? no slam had magic kareem who won a ring without magic oscar robertson bird jordan dr j etc he is not as good as those players unless he win another ring or two come on you could make excuses cause your a major fan of his but he never led a tema to a championship it's easier to be two then 1.

jordand had nobody on his team and played agianst the boston celtics 86 team and boston celtics 87 team in 85 vs bucks was the one win aginst a great milwaukee team. only reason the lakers won 3 games was because phoenix didnt have stoudamire if jordan play on the lakers aginst phoenix with no stoudamire and they up 3 to 1 they win the series not get beat 4to 3 and he would not take 1 shot in the fourth quarter and quit. and if kobe on the bulls aginst those celtics he wont score 63 on nor would he win a game on them as well and he would not win agisnt bucks either as a rookie on a 38 win team please david those were two diffren t circumstances and jordan team would beat phoenix which was no celtics especially without stoudamire. jordan worth 25 wins kobe 15 and his team would not fall apart like kobe did last year as well and if kobe averaged 40ppg jordan would avg 45 or 50 especially if he get the green light like kobe did.

 
At Thursday, December 06, 2007 8:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Elgin Baylor is one of the very greatest players of all-time. He averaged 27.4 ppg and 13.5 rpg even though he played the last part of his career with little or no cartilage in his knees.

You simply refuse to accept that winning a championship generally requires two stars plus a good supporting cast--and even that may not be enough if you play in an era when there is another team (like the Celtics in Elgin's era) that simply had better talent.

The 2006 Lakers were a six seed and the Suns were a third seed, even without Amare, so Amare's absence is not relevant. Kobe had 50 points in game six, a game the Lakers lost because Odom did not get a defensive rebound and then the Lakers let Tim Thomas shoot a wide open three. If not for that sequence, Kobe would have led the Lakers to one of the bigger upsets in recent playoff history. The Suns had the better lineup at every position other than shooting guard and they had a better bench, yet you think that MJ going 1-9 in the playoffs without Pippen is more impressive?

The Lakers were down more than 20 points when you say that Kobe quit. What exactly do you propose that Kobe should have done? He had more than 20 points in the first half and they were down double digits. Look at NBA playoff history. Young, inexperienced teams do not win game sevens on the road. The Lakers and Cavs had no chance that year, as I wrote before both of those game sevens.

Why do you say that MJ's early teams would beat the current Suns in the playoffs? Some of those Bulls teams did not even win half of their games. They were first round fodder just like Kobe's current Lakers, with the difference being that Kobe enabled the Lakers to be very competitive in 2006.

Kobe had 81 points in a regulation length game. He has had 62 and 56 after three quarters in other games. Are you really sure that he could not score 63 points in double overtime? Keep in mind that the 62 in three quarters came against a team that went to the NBA Finals, so don't say that Kobe did this against weak opposition.

If MJ is worth 25 wins then explain this: in 1986 he missed almost the entire year but the Bulls still won 30 games, yet when he played the entire season in 1987 they won only 40 games. How do you derive a value of 25 games from that?

My two "favorite" points came at the end. You say that an MJ team would not fall apart down the stretch. The 1987 Bulls started 31-26 and went 9-16 down the stretch (sounds a lot like last year's Lakers). So much for that theory.

Even better is when you say that MJ would have averaged 45 or 50 ppg. Where on earth did you get that idea? MJ's best average was 37.1 ppg and he never had a second half of any season like what Kobe did last year (no one has since Wilt). MJ played in an era in which the games were played at a faster pace, so, if anything, there is reason to believe that he would be scoring less now, not more.

I'm not saying that Kobe is better than MJ--but several of your contentions fly in the face of logic.

 
At Thursday, December 06, 2007 11:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

elgin was a great player not top ten he ahs no rings he was in the celtics era i know but winning is what it is about.

you refuse to accept that one guy makes the diffrence more than another. could they win without kobe but they get to conference finals without shaq dont get out the first round. thats why the era is shaq and duncan not kobe shaq and duncan david shaq and duncan were lead guys not kobe he is the 3rd best player of this era. and if shaq was the second best player on his team and kobe was the best you would be undermine shaq and saying kobe led the lakers and how shaq was not the leader of his team because your a major kobe fan and he was the number 2 guy you trying to act like they were equal when clearly they werent shaq 60% kobe 40%.

amare absence is relevant because they dont win 3 games if he played in the series. and the lakers were a 7 seed and suns a 2 that year btw. it's always everybody else fault odom didnt miss rebound marion tapped it out and smush missed his spot. woulda coulda shoulda they didnt win the series, and jordan went 1-9 because the celtics were way way better than the bulls if kobe played on those bulls teams they dont win a game and he wont drop 63 on them nor would he beat milwaukee a game.

OH MY GOD 63 in double overtime was better than any kobe game he cant score on that great celtic team that would be equivalent dropping 63 on the spurs has he done that? 81 was a great game toronto is not the 86 celtics, 62 aginst mavs there not the 86 celtics and mavs arent good defensively drop it on the pistons or spurs you saying alot more to me. even kobe said that game jordan did aginst the celtics was better than 81 points.

he was young when they won 40 games but wait wait david in 94-95 the bulls won 47 games right mj came back late that season they were 34-31 win 13-of 17 with rusty jordan thats 47 games. jordan come back in shape un rusty next season 72 wins wait 47+25=72 there you go david i know my math wasnt wrong.

31-26 5 games over 500 33-18 15 games over 500 9-16 9-24 hmmm not the same quite david and the 87 bulls werent as good as lakers team on top of kobe team was 8 games better than mj team and did as worse. and kobe didnt carry a team when you go 15-26 in the second half at lesat i wouldnt want him carrying my team i dont know about you.

i know mj averaged 37.1ppg his highest kobe highest 35 and kobe scored 43ppg to end last season which showed his great talent mj averaged 33ppg in the playoffs where it really counts so kobe had a more dominant second half last year mj had better and more dominant career and would have been more dominant in playoffs was my point there.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 12:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

You are vastly underrating Elgin but we'll leave that discussion for another day.

What I refuse to do is to debate who is number one and who is number two when both guys are on the All-NBA Team and the team would not win the championship without either one. It could be 60-40, 53-47 or 55.2-44.8--I don't care because it is not relevant.

I already said that Shaq and Duncan are the two dominant figures of the post-MJ era, so why did you throw Kobe's name in there as if I suggested otherwise? The legacy question is one thing, the issue of who is the best player in the league right now is another and the reasons that the Lakers have not gotten out of the first round in recent seasons is yet another issue. You are trying to talk about three things at once and not making sense on any of them.

You are of course right about the 2006 seeding, though; Phx had the third best record in the West but received the second seed by virtue of being a division champion, a rule that has since been changed.

Amare was absent the whole year and the Suns had the better team than the Lakers. I love how you say that the Celts were clearly better than MJ's Bulls as if that Suns team was not clearly better than the Lakers.

Kobe gave the Kings 48 points and 16 rebounds on the road in regulation in a close out game in 2001, then had 45 points and 10 rebounds on the road in the next game versus the Spurs. Maybe if he did not have Shaq then he would have scored 63 and lost like MJ did.

47+Rodman=72. Also, check the records again--the '95 Bulls suffered a ton of injuries in the first half of the season but had won 6 of 7 before MJ came back and they were starting to play like the previous year's team that won 55 games. Hey, there's some math for you--57 wins with MJ in '93 and 55 wins without him in '94--we just proved that MJ is only worth two wins (just kidding). Obviously, there are multiple factors involved in a team's won-loss mark but you seem to think that the only injuries that are relevant are Amare's in 2006.

I know that the numbers for the 87 Bulls and 07 Lakers are not exactly the same; the point is that you said an MJ-led team would not collapse down the stretch and I just gave you an example of one that did. I'm not saying that it was his fault--I won't fall into the simple minded trap that you keep falling into--but to say that MJ would have done more with the Lakers' 2007 team is more than a bit of a reach. MJ was tremendous but he was not invincible; put him on a bad team that has been hit by injuries and he would not be able to do any more than Kobe did last year.

What do MJ's career numbers have to do with preventing a team from collapsing in the second half? You made a statement and I refuted it; don't go changing the subject, particularly when I have already said that I am not asserting that Kobe is better than MJ. All I am saying is that even with MJ, last year's Lakers would not have gone any farther than they did. The team needs one more star player, as does any contending team.

 

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