I don't know about the rest of you, but any time the Lakers struggle, it makes me a little happy inside. They've been a thorn in our side for years. They get sooooo much media attention. The media has liked to say in the past that it was because great teams get the best coverage. I think you can see this year that is sooo not true. They also like to say that big media markets get the best coverage. Well that is partly true. But Clips are killing it and Lakers may be lucky to get to .500 and make a playoff berth and at least 3/4 of the coverage coming out of LA is about the dismal Lakers. Knicks and Nets have the same media pool, but the Knicks dominate that market, although not dominating the standings or the Nets in head to head confrontations. I resent the media attention and duplicity, and frankly, I just don't like Kobe's ego, or character. So I'm getting warm fuzzies this year every time the Lakers try the next thing that's going to turn it around and it falls flat.
The latest was making Kobe the primary on-ball defender. Kobe has been great on offense. Kobe gets bored on defense. If he isn't their biggest defensive liability, he is close. Teams like us prey on his tendency to gravitate towards the ball and not mark the unimportant player that he is guarding, slipping that guy towards the corner, or the basket and feeding the ball in for a wide open shot. Easy baskets. So after all of the other guys on the team bust their butts on a possession playing position D, fighting through screens, and moving their feet to stay in front of the ball, you can imagine how frustrating it is when the other team gets an easy bucket because your "best" player is such an attention hog, that he has to, wants to be near the ball, so he can showcase his awesomeness with a steal or block or grab a board. Steals, blocks and boards show up in box scores and are recorded for posterity. For some reason, not a lot of defensive statistics are recorded. However, it would be interesting to see opponent shooting percentage against Kobe in the post and on the wing. Regardless, those are advanced stats, and not something Kobe is interested in.
So, knowing all of this, D'Antoni got a brilliant idea: let's put Kobe on the ball. They don't have to worry about him being uninterested. He is in the spotlight where he wants to be. And it worked. For a couple of games. He shut down opposing players, put up his numbers, and the team looked better. I groaned a little. I was hoping they wouldn't figure out a way to shore up that huge defensive liability. But they did. But now the cost is apparent.
After their loss to Toronto, Kobe said he had heavy legs, that this loss was on him. What he meant was, he wasn't very good on offense. He shot 25% from 3, and 43% overall. 26 points on 32 shot attempts, with 6 turnovers. Now that he has to play both ways, he doesn't have the energy to make shots. Sure he can do it every now and again, but he isn't going to be able to play lock down D, and score at a high rate every single night. Maybe he could have when he was 25, not 35. Funny how this loss was on him, because he played D, to the detriment of his offense, but he threw just about everybody under the bus when he WASN'T playing D, and having good offensive performances. You see what is important to Kobe.
Tim Duncan, could still be a beast on offense. He still has all of the moves in the post, and even more shooting skills than in the past. He's plenty strong. But Pop doesn't ask that of him all game long, every game, because it is wearing. He could do it, but at the expense of his defense. My coach always said that defense takes the entire team, if you need to rest, rest on offense. You'll see Tony and Tim both rest on offense. Tony could be breaking down the D and using that super accelerator, layout his body, hit the floor, get the shot, the and 1 or the free throws every time down the floor. Really, there's not a lot to do to stop him without opening up other options. But he doesn't do it, because it is wearing.
I think the Lakers are going to find that if they keep using Kobe as the go-to defender, his offensive efficiency, which is the best it has ever been, I believe, is going to plummet. He's been resting on D to the detriment of his team, but his stat lines have been great. He's getting accolades. His team is sucking.
Personally, I always have this fear that the laws of physics don't work the same for opposing teams. It is an irrational fear, but I confess to it nonetheless. Maybe it is because the media tends to portray that things are different for guys like Lebron, Melo, or Kobe, that they don't get tired on back to backs, or 4 games in 4 nights. But the laws of nature are not suggestions, and we are comfortably reminded, that NOBODY is above the law. Even Kobe. <patiently waiting for the next Lakers' "greener over the next hill" moment>