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Friday, March 21, 2008

Lakers Snap Utah's Record Home Winning Streak

The Utah Jazz had not lost at home in 2008, tying a franchise record with 19 home wins, but the Lakers snapped that streak on Thursday with a convincing, wire to wire 106-95 victory. Playing without injured seven footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers relied on strong performances from Kobe Bryant (27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) and Lamar Odom, who notched his fourth straight double double (21 points, 12 rebounds, six assists). Deron Williams led the Jazz with 26 points and 12 assists and he tied for second on the team with seven rebounds. Carlos Boozer also played well (23 points, 15 rebounds) but the Jazz never mounted a serious threat after the Lakers opened the game with a 20-7 burst punctuated by an Odom dunk, an Odom three pointer (assisted by Bryant) and a Bryant dunk.

From an analytical standpoint, the main story of this game is that Utah could not contain Bryant's dribble penetration, which consistently led to defensive breakdowns that resulted in scores for Bryant, easy baskets for Lakers' bigs or wide open three pointers (the Lakers shot 10-22 from three point range).

Watching the Lakers dominate this contest, my thoughts turned to an interesting question: How many times have Bryant and the Lakers been counted out this season by the "experts"? The first time was before the season even began, when some people suggested that perhaps Bryant would hold out or not play hard if the Lakers did not either trade him or acquire some better personnel. Of course, anyone who understands anything about Bryant realizes how absurd those thoughts are. Bryant scored 45 points in a hard fought, two point loss to Houston on opening night and then led the Lakers to victories against Western Conference powers Phoenix and Utah in the next two games. That pretty much put an end to any talk that Bryant would give any less than his best.

When Andrew Bynum emerged as the first Lakers post player who can consistently catch and finish since the Shaquille O'Neal trade, the Lakers steadily moved up the Western Conference standings. Bynum was hardly dominating--his statistics (13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg) essentially match what Zydrunas Ilgauskas does for Cleveland (13.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg), with Bynum shooting better from the field and Ilgauskas shooting better from the free throw line--but he did enough to convince some people that he is more valuable than Bryant. That notion is amusing to anyone who actually watched the Lakers play and understood that a substantial portion of Bynum's offensive production resulted from all of the defensive attention that Bryant attracts. Yes, Bynum displayed the rudiments of a back to the basket post game as the season progressed but for the most part he feasted off of lobs and offensive rebounding opportunities that came about precisely because the defense could not afford to focus on him as long as Bryant was on the court.

After Bynum got injured, the "experts" wrote off the Lakers for the second time this season, saying that in the tough West the Lakers would struggle to make the playoffs. Instead, Bryant shouldered more of the offensive load and the Lakers went 5-5 in the first 10 games that Bynum missed. That mark included losses to Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas and Detroit, the latter three on the road. Bryant averaged 35.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg while shooting .558 from the field in the last six games of that stretch, during which the Lakers went 3-3, including a road win in Toronto when Bryant scored 46 points and a one point loss in Detroit when Bryant scored 39 points. Despite being without Bynum for those 10 games the Lakers still had a 30-16 record, the sixth best mark in the league.

Enter Pau Gasol. Adding the one-time All-Star to a team that just 10 games earlier the "experts" said would not even make the playoffs turned the Lakers into a powerhouse. They went 14-3 in the next 17 games and moved into first place in the West. Then Gasol sprained his ankle during a win over Toronto and the "experts" wrote off the Lakers for a third time, declaring that a four game road trip to New Orleans, Houston, Dallas and Utah would send the Lakers plummeting in the standings. Instead, Bryant averaged 29 ppg in 42.5 mpg and led the Lakers to a 2-2 record, good enough to keep the Lakers on top of the standings in the West. The formula for top teams is to win half of their games on the road and at least 75% of their games at home, a combination that results in more than 50 wins overall.

Are the Lakers as good without Bynum and Gasol as they are with them? Of course not. Can they win the championship without both of those players? Of course not--it is far from certain that they would win a seven game series against the Spurs even with those guys and 100% certain that they would not win such a series without them. However, that does not change the fact that Bryant is without question the driving force behind the Lakers' success. Al Jefferson is far more productive than Bynum--how well is his team doing? What track record of sustained success does Gasol have prior to playing with Bryant? Bynum and Gasol are good players who definitely ease the load on Bryant by providing size, length and skill in the paint but Bryant also eases the load on them by attracting extra defensive coverage.

Here is a good thought experiment: give Gasol and Bynum to Steve Nash and give Shaq and Amare to Bryant. What do you think would happen to each of those teams? Or give Gasol and Bynum to Ginobili/Parker in exchange for Duncan and either Kurt Thomas or Fabricio Oberto. How would that turn out? The answers to these questions should be painfully obvious but based on the way that the "experts" keep counting out Bryant and the Lakers apparently the answers are not so obvious.

It will be fascinating to see how all of this pans out in the MVP voting. For the past two seasons we have heard that Bryant was essentially disqualified from winning the award because his team did not win 50 games. So unless the Cavs go 11-2 the rest of the way then LeBron James is disqualified this year, right? Meanwhile, Bryant's Lakers have the best record in the West even though Bynum has only played in 35 games and Gasol has only played in 18 games as a Laker. Chris Paul has been mentioned a lot recently as an MVP candidate and some people say that Paul does not have as good a supporting cast as Bryant. Paul's All-Star big man, David West, has averaged 19.8 ppg and 9.2 rpg in 61 games and his other top big man, Tyson Chandler, has averaged 11.6 ppg and 12.3 rpg in 64 games. One could certainly make the case that they form a better duo than Gasol and Bynum do but even if you think that Gasol and Bynum are better they have only played half as many games as the Hornets' big men have--and the Lakers' two top big men have not even spent one second on the court together! While we are talking about supporting casts, it is worth mentioning that New Orleans' third leading scorer, Peja Stojakovic, is a three-time All-Star who finished fourth in MVP voting once and who currently ranks sixth in the league in three point shooting percentage. Injuries slowed Stojakovic the past couple seasons but he is healthy now and does not turn 31 until June.

LeBron James and Chris Paul are wonderful players. I'd rank James just behind Bryant and I'd put Paul third, albeit some distance behind Bryant and James. However, using the criteria that led to Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki winning the past three MVPs, it is hard to understand how Bryant could not win this year's MVP. Kevin Garnett perhaps merits mentioning but he is essentially playing the role this season that Detroit's Chauncey Billups played in 2005-06; he is the best player on the team with the best record but that team has multiple All-Stars, which resulted in Billups and Garnett not posting individual numbers that stack up with what the other MVP candidates are doing.

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:54 AM



At Friday, March 21, 2008 9:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man, nice post yet again, but like the problem that I encountered in the past, the characters in your blog are italized again, Makes it hard to read. I don't know, maybe it's blogger's malfunction, whatever.


At Friday, March 21, 2008 3:07:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Which browser are you using? Nothing in that post is supposed to be italicized. The page loads correctly on my computer in both Mozilla and Internet Explorer. Have you tried to go to "view" and adjust the page style or encoding? Does this happen all the time that you come to 20 Second Timeout or just periodically?

At Friday, March 21, 2008 9:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

pau is a 20 10 guy and bynum is 13 and 10 and will be a 20 and 10 and more guy in the future odom has played great of late and a 14 and 10 guy and could get a triple double every night chris paul plays with old done peja a good player in west ill take pau over him easily and tyson chandler bynum is way better than him as well. he been in the league 7 years this is bynum 2nd bynum will get alot better and is better already now than him. clearly kobe is the best player on the laker team they wont make playoffs without him but they wont go far without bynum and gasol he aint jordanm he need the big man presence offensively and especially defenseively. all all time great top 20 players all time like kobe make players look better than they are mchale look better than he was becuase of bird pippen because of jordan worthy because of magic so that is not the point. to say he doesnbt have alot around him is false this team is alot better than the 98 championship bulls team scottie pippen had a bad back and wasnt very productive jordan had to pull that one out of a hat plus they were a old team as well. this is a young very good team with famar and vuciac and turiaf they good players coming off the bench you give them no credit if they play well and kill them if they dont play well you are a inconsistent on that aspect. who in the media said bynum and gasol was better than kobe? kobe with amare and shaq and odom would be great i think that gasol bynum nash bell diaw would be great as well in san antonio with them as well all combos would work for all those teams. i think barkley said it best this is the first time in kobe career he makeing the players around him better for years he didnt and once you give those other players confidence it becomes contagious and i think the whole team has felt that now becuase they all are better players because of that.

At Saturday, March 22, 2008 3:25:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Not to quibble, but Pau is a 19 and 9 guy--if you round his averages up. He has never averaged 20-10 for a season, though he did come very close once. With the Lakers he has averaged 18.8 and 7.9, which is not the same as a legit 20-10. He can get 20-10 on a given night, of course. Saying that Bynum will be a 20-10 guy someday is meaningless. I'm talking about Bryant and Paul's supporting casts this year. West-Chandler and Gasol-Bynum are putting up very similar numbers but Gasol-Bynum have never been on the court together and have missed a ton of games. There is no question that Paul has had more help this season. I mean, there is nothing to even discuss here.

Odom "could" do a lot of things but what he has actually done throughout his career is show flashes of ability followed by subpar performances. He is much better suited to being the third or fourth guy than to being the second guy, the role he has had to take in L.A. due to injuries (and a lack of talent on the team prior to Bynum's emergence and the Gasol trade).

Do you think that Paul would go far without West and Chandler? We can already answer that. Last year, Paul could not even lead NO to the last playoff spot. Yes, Paul's game has improved this year but he can't take the team anywhere by himself---as I've told you many times, no one can take a team anywhere by himself, not Kobe, not MJ, not Bird, no one. MJ lost in the first round many times before management put a better team around him.

I'm not "inconsistent" regarding the Lakers' role players. They have played well this season but my point is that Kobe's presence enables them to be productive. A Farmar to Turiaf lob play is not unstoppable; it becomes hard to guard when the defense also has to account for Bryant. Farmar, Vujacic and the young guys have definitely stepped up and are playing better than they did in previous seasons but they are not as good as guys like Kukoc or Cedric Maxwell or other guys who were the next option on great teams if the top guys were double-teamed.

Gasol-Bynum-Nash-Diaw-Bell would not win 50 games, particularly this year in the West. They would definitely not be in first place in the West like the Lakers are now despite the fact that Kobe's big men have missed a ton of games.

At the Wages of Wins site, there was an article early in the season asserting that Bynum had been more productive to that point than Kobe had. That is the specific article that I was thinking of but there were other articles that also gave Bynum more credit for the Lakers' success than he deserved. Bynum has improved tremendously, no doubt about it--but he is not yet a great back to the basket player who demands double teams; Kobe is the guy drawing double teams and passing to Bynum.

Barkley makes good points sometimes but he is wrong about Kobe. Kobe has been a great playmaker for years and was the leading playmaker on three championship teams. I already did a post showing that every season we get these stories that there is a "new" Kobe when what is actually happening is that the guys Kobe is passing to are catching the ball and finishing plays. Kobe has always been a good passer; what happened in the second half of last season is that Jackson told Kobe that he had to shoot more and pass less for the team to make the playoffs because so many players on the team were injured.

At Sunday, March 23, 2008 12:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

19 and 9 20 and 10 similar you right but he pretty darn close to that top 4 guys on new orleans average 65ppg the lakers top 4 average 75ppg pau better than west bynum better than chandler odm better than peja at this point in peja career. and odom has been consistent since pau has been there and had been doing great the 3 games he been gone. he is not your second best player but he is your third best player and the laker bench is better than the hornets bench. noone expected the hornets to be one in the west with chris paul i mean he is a franchise player he is the best point guard i seen in years. once the lakers made the gasol move and bynum developed you expected them to be as good as they been plus famar and turiaf and vuciaic and walton all got better. kobe the biggest reason but these other guys have been good for lakers.

i never said paul could carry a team by himself nobody but jordan could carry a team by himself or only need one good player or great player and scrubs or jordan can win with less than any other player in sports team history. to me jordan is the greatest player to play sports other than tiger woods and muhammad ali nobody in team sports is even close to me.

but bird and magic and then kobe after him could carry teams as well not nearly as less as jordan was my point jordan couldnt win a ring with 5 role players but hedidnt have to have 2 stars to win and dennis rodman was a rebounder not a scorer horace grant was a role player he couldnt win without pippen but i dont think bird magic kobe ruselll shaq or anybody could win 6 championships in 8 years with that roster and have 2 3 peats and win 7 but even mike needed help to a certain degree.

gasol bynum diaw nash bell could win 50 games i believe with barbosa as well even this year in the west when bynum went out they were 5-5 in those 10 games then gasol came they went 15-3 and now 3-2 without gasol so without both of them they 8-5 they would not be nowhere near 48-21 without both one of them have to play for the lakers to be effective because the lakers are a small roster without way too both of them way too small too compete in the west.

anyone who said bynum is more important than kobe is totally wrong clearly kobe is the most important player on the roster they cant win without him more than they cant win without bynum. but they both need to be out there to win the championship.

yeah i never thought kobe trusted his teamates post shaq enough to win he would give them the ball at times but go away from them too quickly and hold the ball and shoot too much this year he has been more patient and these players have delivered for them they got called out and all of them stepped there game up.

At Sunday, March 23, 2008 6:22:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Well, the top "one" guy on L.A. is second in the NBA in scoring, so he has a lot to do with what the top four players average--not to mention that the other three guys are feasting off of all of the defensive attention that Kobe attracts. Bynum deserves all the credit for his defensive rebounding and shot blocking but a substantial amount of his offensive production--points and rebounds--is directly attributable to Kobe. Bynum only rarely catches the ball with his back to the basket and scores; he catches lobs on the move because the defense is slanted toward Kobe. Gasol was doing the same thing. Kwame could have done the same thing if he could catch the damn ball. Any decent big man who is 6-10 and can catch should be able to average 10 ppg playing with Kobe. Bynum was averaging 13 ppg; it's not like he was a dominating scorer. Bynum has good hands and has shown a lot of promise but he is not yet a franchise-level player.

Bill Russell is the greatest winner in the history of major North American team sports--11 NBA titles, two NCAA titles, an Olympic gold medal. Picking who is the greatest player in the pantheon is a difficult and ultimately fruitless task. How do you compare a center who was a defensive wizard to the greatest shooting guard of all-time? Their roles were completely different.

When you talk about the Lakers' record you are not considering who they played in those games. The Lakers just went 2-2 on a tough road trip without Gasol and Bynum. That would be an 0-4 road trip without Kobe and it is not certain that it would have been better than 2-2 even with the two big guys; road wins are hard to come by in the NBA.

Repeatedly passing the ball to Kwame and watching him fumble it away is not "trusting your teammates"; it is stupidity or even insanity--one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Kobe shooting a jumper while being double-teamed is a higher percentage player than passing the ball to Kwame under any circumstances. That is why Jackson told Kobe to shoot more and pass less in the second half of last season. Kobe has never had a problem passing to guys like Shaq, Fisher, Horry, Rice or anyone else who can actually catch the ball and make a shot.

At Monday, March 24, 2008 1:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

odom and pau are putting up there career numbers and they dont always get there asists from kobe and pau has a back to the basket game and odom could score in the post as well bynum has shown signs of back to the basket game some of the sucess is kobe but not most and most of bynum rebounds are defensive rebounds like most players kobe helps some with lob passes but fisher pentrates farmar was and also lamar odom is a great passer and was putting him in good spots as well.

bill russell couldnt score and he played with 6 hall of famers in a 8 team league. jordan was alot better than rusell was all around and his teams was better despite haveing alot less talent than rusell had. rusell was the greatest winner but jordan was the greatest player to ever play north american sports and in the nba. your pantheon should be jordan number 1 wilt 1a then bird and magic then everybody else. rusell was great but he not better than mike as a player jordan only better rebounder than jordan was you cant compare the two to me.

they now 3-3 dallas and utah was impressive but i dont think they would be 0-4 without him and bynum and gasol was playing and they would of won all 4 games if gasol played more than likely actually all 6 they missed a inside presence he's not mike he needs a big man to win a championship. i mean they would be 6-0 if gasol didnt get hurt with kobe and odom playing like they have and role players playing well. and lebron team 0-7 without him and chris paul team would be no good with him either peja 2 thirds the player he used to be tyson chandler was a bust in chicago he benefits greatly by paul and david west was a bust his first two years till the last 3 years who also been there the last 3 years hmm chris paul he not a all star without paul. my point is all good teams are not as good if you take there best player off.

kwame not very good im not talking about him im talking about in general he never trusted his teamates anyone he was trying to do too much and shoot too much lebron james dont play with world beaters as teamates but he trust them alot more than kobe ever did till this year. he has done a great job this year and his teamates have gotten better and he has gave them confidence and made them better like barkley said he letting them make mistakes and going back to him after they make mistakes in past years they knew if they miss the ball wasnt comeing back to them. of course youre going to pass to shaq he was the best player in the league and fisher horry and rice and others got most of they points off shaq getting doubled and tripled team back when they were winning championships.

At Monday, March 24, 2008 3:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article!

You seem to be putting down the Lakers' supporting cast lately though...
It's as if you're trying to "compensate" for the people who "overhype" the Lakers.

"Gasol never won a playoff game"
They faced San Antonio, Phoenix, and Dallas.
Winning a game or two against those teams, while not unreasonable, have more to do with those 3 teams' focus/luck/rust/etc... than anything the Grizzlies could throw at them.

"Gasol got in the All-Star game only once"
Duncan, Garnett, Nowitzki, Marion, Stoudemire.
A few years later, McGrady, Anthony, Boozer.

David West got in the all-star team because Garnett left, Marion whined, McGrady was injured, I'm not sure if Amare was listed as a center.
I don't remember the details, but for this year, a lot of noise was made about how David West got into the all-star game over Baron Davis.
Pau's all-star bid was at FORWARD, while David West was basically the 12th man.
Had Gasol not broken his foot last season, who's to say he wouldn't be selected as an all-star again? His game was still improving.
The Lakers #2 is better than the Hornets #2.
Pau is taller, shoots better, is faster, a better passer, and doesn't dribble the ball to death.
West is a slightly better, tougher, defender.
Kobe-Pau? or Kobe-West? CP3-Pau? or CP3-West? Pierce-Pau? or Pierce-West? Kidd-Pau? or Kidd-West?
Anyone will take Gasol.

So let's take a look at Bynum-Chandler then.
They do most of their damage on lobs and putbacks, with Chandler being a better offensive rebounder, and Bynum being a better post player.
Bynum blocks more shots, and is more physical down low. Chandler doesn't foul as much.
Slight edge to Bynum.

Peja-Odom then?
You have already said a lot about Odom.
Peja shoots better the farther ahead his team is. In close games, he turns into Vlad Radmanovic, and wears his 10-fingered necklace.
I'd give the edge to Odom, since he can still be effective even if his shots are not falling.

Yes the Lakers are not healthy, but your last few articles seem to give the impression that [West-Chandler-Peja] is better than [Gasol-Bynum-Odom].
Taking Bynum out of the equation, West-Chandler vs Gasol-Odom still goes to the Lakers.
The Lakers also have Vlad Rad to duplicate whatever "production" Peja gives in close games.

"There is no question that Paul has had more help this season. I mean, there is nothing to even discuss here."
Without Gasol, true. With Gasol, no way.


At Monday, March 24, 2008 4:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The point is not who gets the assist on a particular play but rather who is commanding the defensive attention that makes the play possible in the first place. By the way, this is the same reason that I don't buy the idea that Ginobili is as valuable as Duncan. Defenses have to double-team Duncan and that opens things up for the other players, even the team's other All-Stars. Ginobili is good enough that he does open some things up for Duncan as well, but the team is built around Duncan, just like the Lakers are built around Kobe. Nobody was going into a game early in the season gearing up a defense to stop Bynum. The defense focused on Kobe and then the opposing team hoped that Bynum would not hurt them too much. Gasol is good enough to draw double teams at times but teams cannot afford to do that because they are already slanting their coverages to Kobe and you can't use four defenders to guard two guys and leave one defender to guard the other three.

I did not rank the 10 players within the Pantheon. Russell and MJ are both in there. One could argue that an 8 team league is less diluted than a 30 team league. My point was not to open up a debate about who is greater between MJ and Russell but rather to indicate that such a question is essentially impossible to really answer since they played different positions in different eras.

When LeBron was out Varejao and Hughes were also out; they are key rotation players. The Cavs also lost some games with LeBron but without Z but no one seems to "count" those.

The point about the Lakers' recent record without Gasol is not just how many of the games they might have won with a complete team but also how many they would have won with Gasol and without Kobe.

I understand that Gasol and Bynum made important contributions. My point is simply that their production is greatly aided by Kobe attracting extra defensive coverage. Also, "experts" who repeatedly predicted the Lakers' doom this season obviously underestimated Kobe's impact and what he is able to do even without his team's best big men.

At Monday, March 24, 2008 4:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I'm not "putting down" the Lakers' supporting cast; I am objectively analyzing their strengths and weaknesses without buying into the hype and inaccurate analysis that permeates a lot of NBA coverage.

There is no doubt that acquiring Gasol in exchange for Kwame is a major coup. However, it is funny to me that the addition of one one-time All-Star supposedly instantly made the Lakers the best team in the West. The reality is that Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA and any team that he is on is going to be very good if he has a remotely adequate supporting cast. Give him even one All-Star and a decent bench and his team can indeed contend for a championship. Gasol is perhaps the 20th to 30th best player in the NBA (a borderline All-Star). He is not a perennial All-Star, let alone an All-NBA caliber player. Every top team in the West has at least two All-Stars who have played together for quite some time (well, Houston had this until Yao got hurt). Kobe's Lakers are at or near the top of the West even though one of his top big men has missed half the season (and has never been an All-Star) and his other top big man joined the team in the middle of the season and has only played 19 games. Nash won two MVPs for making two guys better (Amare, Marion) who would be All-Stars on any team in the NBA, so how can Kobe not be the clearcut MVP for leading the Lakers to their current record considering their roster and their injury situation?

I agree with your intimation that Gasol is not better than Duncan, Garnett, Nowitzki, Marion, Stoudemire, T Mac, Melo, Boozer. In fact, that is my point. Give Gasol to Nash and give Amare and Marion or Amare and Shaq to Kobe and then let's see what's what.

West had been called one of the most underrated players in the NBA for quite some time. I don't recall anyone questioning his selection and he was not chosen over Baron; Nash, Kobe, Paul and Iverson were chosen over Baron.

Are you trying to say that Gasol is demonstrably better than West? Keep in mind that West has played the whole season for NO, while Gasol has played 19 games for L.A. How can anyone say that Kobe has had more help this season than Chris Paul? Paul's big guys have played with him for a couple years--developing the great chemistry they have now--and those big guys have been healthy this season. Bynum was a project until the first half of this season and then he got hurt. Gasol joined the team in midseason, played 19 games and then he got hurt. Kobe is winning games with Ronny Turiaf at center. How many minutes, let alone starts, would Turiaf be getting in NO?

Peja has been an All-Star and he has finished in the top five in MVP voting. He was hurt the past couple seasons but he is healthy now. He and Odom both have their share of problems in clutch situations but Peja has demonstrated more talent and consistency during his career.

If West-Chandler-Peja are not as good as Gasol-Bynum-Odom then they are very close--and the very important tiebreaker is that NO's trio has been healthy all season and has played together longer than L.A.'s trio.

At Saturday, March 29, 2008 1:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

me and z and the other anymous and madnice see the game the same way kobe has more help than paul has when gasol and bynum are in there gasol better than west bynum better than chandler odom over peja and kobe over there guard he has more help than alot of teams out west with bynum gasol and odom especially the way odom been playing of late.

pau gets double team alot in memphis and carried the team to 50 wins twice and mike miller was his second best player. every star attracts alot of defense help but and paul does as well he penetrates and every time he penetrates 2 or 3 guys go with and that gives peja open shots west open shots and chandler his dunks and every one else alot of west sucess is because he shoots wide open shots because of paul i watch new orleans games without paul he is not nearly as good where pau has been great with and without kobe pau is not way better than west but too me comfotably better than he is you are cutting him way short. paul got west that open shot vs cleveland the other day and many in that game. kobe give sasha farmar and turiaf open shots odom and pau could creat they own shot he makes it easier for them. but so does paul for his team gasol bynum odom is better than peja west and chandler you have valid point that they been healthy all year, but that not paul or kobe fault kobe people got hurt either.

bottom line if paul finish ahead of kobe he'll win it more that likely. but if kobe finish hell win it we just have to see who finishes better. dirk shaq lebron t mac said they would go with kobe so kobe do got pedigree for the award.

At Saturday, March 29, 2008 3:14:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You wrote, "kobe has more help than paul has when gasol and bynum are in there."


Sorry to shout, but you keep missing the main point that I made not only in various comment threads but also in my article about the Lakers' "three seasons." If Gasol, Bynum, West and Chandler are all equally healthy next season then perhaps we can evaluate which tandem is better, though I still say that Kobe causes more problems for defenses than Paul does--but Pau has only played in 19 games for the Lakers and Bynum has only played in 35 games this season. The two of them have never been on the court together. When you take those facts into account and understand that Kobe has led three different Lakers' teams this year (with Bynum; with Pau; without either one)--something that is extremely hard to do and a challenge that Paul has not had to deal with--then it is obvious that Kobe has done more with less this season than Paul has, even if NO ends up with one or two more wins.

Kobe had his big men for significantly less time than Paul did--and he never had his big men on the court together at the same time--so just to have the Lakers in contention for the top seed is remarkable. Give Kobe West and Chandler for the whole year while Paul has half a season of Bynum and a fourth a season of Pau and the teams would not be this close in the standings.


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