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C’s-Lakers: Kobe Doin’ (All the) Work

So now we’ve had a few hours to let this sweet, sweet victory simmer. During this time, various outlets of sports punditry have come to some conclusions re: Kobe’s role in the loss. Now, like most things about Kobe, the dialogue surrounding the relationship between his production and his team’s results drives me a little bonkerballs. Today’s debate is no exception. Here’s a brief summary of the media reaction to today’s game:

“Kobe singlehandedly took his team out of the game with his shooting! He made so many shots his teammates temporarily lost interest in playing basketball! You could see the disgust and resentment in their eyes as they watched Kobe selfishly make shot after shot, with no regard for whether or not someone else might like to make a shot sometime! Bottom line: if Kobe hadn’t made so many shots, the Lakers might have won this game!”

What I don’t like about this argument, besides the fact that it’s idiotic, is how it implies that Kobe is so powerful only Kobe can hurt Kobe. The Lakers scored 96 points in a slow-paced game against a top 3 defense. That’s not bad. In a game where the Celtics scored 109 points, is there any possibility that this game might have been lost not because Kobe shot too much, but instead because of stuff that happened on the other end of the floor? Could that other stuff have been what made this guy was so sad?

Because the Celtics offense quietly rolled over the Lakers today. Paul Pierce, who you may have heard has scored more points per game against the Lakers than any other team in his career, hit stepbacks from everywhere. He and a few other guys combined for 9-17 from 3. Rajon Rondo picked up 15 assists in the second half, part of a team total of 34. You know all this. So why isn’t anyone talking about the crappy Laker defense?

It’s true that there was something quiet about the C’s offensive dominance tonight. Uncharacteristically quiet: when the C’s play good teams this year, we’re used to watching them A) fall behind with the bench in the game before clawing back with dramatic 3’s and defensive stands or B) lose a big lead in the second half. But in this game, they took the lead with 6:30 to go in the 3rd and never lost it again. So, so great to see at this point in the season, especially when last January 31st the Celtics lost to the Lakers on a fourth-quarter collapse that had become standard operating procedure at that point. Instead, tonight it was this guy who went home disappointed:

The Lakers’ problem today wasn’t that Kobe shot 55%. Their problem was that the Celtics shot substantially better than that. Exorcising a few demons from last June, the Celtics shot better as they went along, notching a 67% from the floor in the second half. Seemingly all of those points came as a result of one player setting a screen, another player flying off that screen, and a third player with chapstick in his sock knowing exactly when to get him the ball.

We didn’t know it at the time, but the game was basically over when the C’s turned a 3-point lead into 9 on threes from Ray and Nate within 40 seconds of each other, both from Rondo assists. Rondo was at his best tonight finding guys open from beyond the arc. Half of Rondo’s assists in the second half (not including the late ones in garbage time) led to three points, a credit both to Rondo’s awareness and his teammates’ ability to set and curl off of screens.

But my favorite assist of the night was probably yours too: when Nate pulled up for a catch-and-shoot three, only to huck the ball to a hungry Glen Davis under the basket, who used the great position Nate gave him to muscle a layup through two defenders. That basket brought the score to 89-80, and effectively iced the game so that this guy’s entire day was ruined:


I find this Kobe-centric discussion to be related to Henry Abbott’s new-classic Truehoop post on Kobe’s clutchitude, or lack thereof. My issue with that post, and almost every contribution to this debate, is that I don’t feel it really responds to the actual question, which is usually framed as “Who do you want taking the last shot of the game?”

For some reason, this question of all questions is usually in the second person, much like “If you’re building a team from scratch, who’s your first pick?” In these scenarios you, inexplicably, are in charge. It’s about who you want taking the shot.

So why do we use data that depends on game situations which you, if you were Basketball God, clearly wouldn’t replicate? Numbers measuring clutchery are so, so heavily influenced by the perceived threat of a player’s teammates and how a defense predicts a last-second play call. Kobe is not ever the only player on the floor, so the data doesn’t really measure his ability to make shots at the end of the games, so much as the effectiveness of his team’s strategy.

With the game on the line, everyone knows Kobe’s getting the last shot. The players on the court, the fans in the seats, the Mole People living underneath the stadium: they all know where the ball’s going. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony, the guy who performs best using clutch metrics, plays alongside a player whose nickname is “Big Shot,” leaving some chance that the other guy might end up with the ball in his hands.

Here’s my point: you can’t really say, “I wouldn’t want Kobe shooting the last shot because he wouldn’t pass it.” Because that statement makes no sense.  You also can’t say, “I don’t want Kobe taking that shot because everyone knows he’s going to take it.” Why are you constructing imaginary obstacles, man? It’s just a stupid basketball hypothetical!

What about this question: if Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Melo, and Chris Paul are all on the floor at the same time (suspend your disbelief re: positionality), who takes the last shot? Isn’t that what the question is really asking? I mean, when someone asks who you want taking the last shot, does anyone ever respond “On what team?”

In this dream scenario, you’d have to assume that the defense would be spread pretty evenly between each player, and in that case you’d want a great one-on-one scorer from anywhere on the floor who can make extremely difficult shots. In that case, I wouldn’t feel at all weird about going with Kobe there. But in any case, my choice would be pretty much entirely dependent on who else was on the floor. I mean, if I knew everyone on my team was going to converge on Kobe, I might want Lamar Odom or Shannon Brown taking that shot. But I’m not some weirdo who imagines fantasy scenarios in which the opposing defense has tendencies against my dream-players.

The point is, as much as I love when Internet people freak out on Kobe’s behalf, there just isn’t enough evidence to declare who is good or bad at taking a shot with a certain amount of time left on the clock. Kobe’s bad at doing it in this warped system he’s developed where he’s the only person on the Lakers allowed to take the shot, but that doesn’t mean he’s bad at taking such shots overall. There’s probably even an argument to be made for Kobe being the most clutchsome because he performs about as well as an average player even though everyone in the entire world knows he’s taking the shot.

In conclusion, clutchousness probably doesn’t exist and I’d be cool with never talking about it again.

  • DRJ1

    It's not that 'clutchiness' doesn't exist, it's that it's really, really hard to measure. There IS someone out there who is ACTUALLY the player most likely to succeed at clutch moments. Reliably identifying him may be beyond us now, but we can know he's out there.

  • Zee

    I think the real question they fail to ask is, "WHY does Kobe choose to take over the game like that?" There is only one answer. It's because he saw his team sorely lacking on both ends.

    It's a domino effect. 1. Team plays terrible > 2. Kobe hi-jacks to even the score (pun intended) > 3. Team detached from game > 4. Lakers lose.

    The problem with that reporter is that he is putting #2 above, before #1. He has to make some sense of this, as to not give credit to the Celtics for the loss, but that, supposedly, Kobe lost the game for them.

    Nope. Bossin' Celtics just whipped you on both ends.

    • Rav

      To be fair, #2 has happened before #1 on most nights the Lakers have lost, especially since the Gasol trade.

      • Zee

        You think so? I usually see it happen the way I spelled it out. But seemingly, Lakers panic early on in most games before they actually should. Maybe that's why it happens.

    • hdavenport

      YES. This is dead on. It’s a causality error. If you watch the game, the shots are pretty evenly distributed early in the quarters. Artest, for example, took half of his 10 shots in the first, when Kobe only had 3. Kobe only takes over at the end after everyone gets a chance to miss a few.

      I think there’s a chance that team nickname you’ve made up could catch on.

      • Zee

        Thanks Hayes! Yeah, that would be cool if it did! :)

  • such a good post!! u hit the nail on the head, especially with regards to all the clutch talk..

  • cez

    Saying Kobe isn't clutch kinda goes against your instinct if you think about it. Remember that last-second 3 he shot right above Ray to ice the game in the regular season last year? That shit was clutch.

  • cez

    But MAN was it sweet to see the Vaginal…err Triangle Offense fall apart last night…

  • john schaffer

    kobe ?? tool 29 shots to make 16 ,, 3 rebounds for a guy 6feet 7 inches ,, no assiats , dont blame rest of team for having the ass against the greatest plyaer in basketbal histort ,, yeah right ,,, micheal is twice as good as the raper

    • Rav

      He's not 6'7" first of all. Second, 16-29 is equal to 55% which is excellent, especially for a guard who is the focal point on offense (and for the opposing defense). Sure, he only had 3 rebounds, but he's averaging 5+ on the season, and 5 assists as well.

      I am a Celtics fan through and through. I hate Kobe. And MJ is much better. But credit where credit is due, dude.

  • TedL

    "You also can’t say, “I don’t want Kobe taking that shot because everyone knows he’s going to take it.” Why are you constructing imaginary obstacles, man? It’s just a stupid basketball hypothetical!"

    OK, then take it out of the hypothetical and talk about his performance. What's he done? And the record says he's about league-average in those big shots. I don' t know how much better he could do in a different scheme, and neither do you; but please let's not say he was playing with chopped liver his whole career. Dude didn't win those championships playing with 4 guys off the playground – Kobe used to play with a guy called Shaq, and another guy who used to be called Mr. Big Shot, and he still plays with the best scoring PF in the league and a guy named Derek Fisher who's hit a few big shots in his day.

    So, if the mole people know Kobe's taking the shot, and that hurts his efficiency, maybe Kobe needs to shoulder some of the blame.

    • Rav

      Yeah. I mean, everyone knows Kobe's going to take the shot. But should he always take it? MJ would take the big shot, but if a teammate was really open, he'd pass it. Not for Kobe.

      Lebron also passes up big shots. Did you see the Heat-Thunder game? He had an open 3 at the end to go up by 2, but passed it to Eddie House. LBJ shooting 36% on 3s (above average) and is also clutch. And it was fairly open. But he realised House (who had bricked a couple of clutch 3s in the past few games) had a better shot, and the Heat got the points and won.

    • hdavenport

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough with this: I think Kobe’s bad clutch numbers are entirely his fault. His ego has compelled him to take that shot no matter what. There’s nobody else to blame. I’m just saying that, because of this predictability he’s developed with the Lakers, it’s hard to say how good he actually is against an unbiased defense, which I think is what the clutch question is really asking.

      • Berkcelt

        How can you account for and adjust for an unbiased defense and give Kobe the benefit (or even the unlikely detriment) of the adjustment if he's never going to face an unbiased defense because he's never going to pass the ball in that situation. Is it any different than saying if Shaq was a 75% FT shooter or if his FT% was adjusted for the average FT% shooter, we can get a measure of an unbiased defense's hack-a-Shaq probability. That information is useless. He's never going to shoot 75%. And Kobe is basically always going to get the ball and always shoot it on the last shot.

        • hdavenport

          Those strike me as two different things. The Shaq thing doesn’t make any assumptions about the other players on the court. Saying that the defense is always going to go after Kobe is kind of the same thing as saying “I’d give it to Morris Peterson on a team with LeBron, Kobe, and Melo, because nobody’s expecting Mo to take it.” Kind of ruins the fun, doesn’t it? I’d prefer we keep the clutchness conversation, if we’re going to have it, to a player’s technical abilities rather than the tendencies of the defense, because the former is just more concrete for me.

          Someone at my work just pointed out that the question is sometimes posed as “Who do you want with the ball in their hands in crunch time?” That’s a completely different question, and I’d never answer Kobe for that one, because he’d give up a higher-percentage opportunity, should one appear, to take his shot. But if you’re asking who should TAKE THE SHOT,  the terms have to change.

  • urbeltic

    I'm looking for the following stat- When Kobe attempts to do it alone and misses, what percentage of the time did the Celtics score in the next frame with a fast break bucket? It just seemed to me that every time Kobe attacked and missed it turned into a full court sprint down the other way with Big Bynum and The Spaniard trailing from behind. I'm not sure if I'm just recalling the highlights here or whether this was actually the case, but I'd be curious to know.

  • skeeds

    Allright. We have to admit, that Kobe was the only player working for the Lakers last night. Don't look at the offence. There, he's Kobe. If the rest of the team shoots bricks, he'll take over. Defensively, he took over Rondo when Fischer and Blake couldn't handle him. He took over Pierce when Artest stopped caring. He was the only one who played.

    On the clutchiness thing, I look at it more technically that statistically. Kobe, as Pierce and Melo, have 2 very powerfull tools. They have devastating footwork and can create space even between 2 defenders, and their fadeaway is pretty much as good as their regular jumpshot. That, makes them a #1 option for last shot. Because yeah, mentality and all of that is good, but being able to trick Stoudemire into talking half a step back and shooting a fadeaway over him, is technique. And if you can't find an open man, that's the best you can hope for. Other things you look for for a final shot are a very high release shot, Ray Allen, Garnett and Bosh can pull that off, simply elevating over the defence. Great leaping ability, to catch the ball over the defence and through in the alley-oop. And offcourse, crazy shot accurancy, like Billups or Nash.
    Those are the things that count for the last play. And except of the few cases that someone else manages to get open, (usually fischer) Kobe is the guy to go. He IS as good as anyone in the league taking these shots, but he's the best in HIS team.

  • dslack

    Nice post Hayes, nice comment TedL.

  • CG12

    Rondo had a lousy second half and finally woke up in the second half from wherever he has been the last few games. He still looks out of synch with his driving and shooting. The last few games we have several times where throws up a wild shot driving to the hoop with some contact. That has never been his game. He is much more effective with a blow-by and short, quick lay up. That is his signature move. He seems to lack that burst, or to be out of rhythm where he can't get there like he was earlier in the season. His jumper has looked much improved this season, but has looked like the old Rondo the last 5 or so games. He doesn't look confident. He isn't stepping into it and stroking it with good balance, like he was earlier. Not sure why.

    KG looks tired. He looks like he's burning oil at this point. I'd love to see him get a few games off.

    It is nice to have Perk back and he can do a lot of useful things, but physically he is not all the way there. The Lakers scored at the rim over his help D a bunch of times last night. Hopefully he can regain significantly of his explosiveness by the time June rolls around. A blown-out knee is really a 12-18 month recovery.

    Great win yesterday. The team was really humming in the second half.

    • DRJ1

      Doc said after the game that he thought Rondo was great and "terrific" in the first half, and that he had told the team so during half-time. Go figure.

      The whole team has a right to be tired. They all probably got ZERO sleep Thursday night, before the Phoenix game. That NBA schedule was just nuts that way, esp for an East coast team traveling cross-country for a back-to-back like that. Just nuts. (The couldn't get to bed before ~8:30am body-clock time Friday morning. Sleep is just not feasible there…)

      • Pandabear11

        KG looks tired? He single handedly cleaned the glass of Kobe's misses in the 4th quarter when the Lakers had both Gasol and Bynum in the game. Difference between this year and last year.

        • DRJ1

          Absolutely right. they may have had a RIGHT to be tired, but I don't remember seeing anyone who actually looked tired. or played that way. including KG

      • CG12

        I saw that Doc said Rondo played a great game, but not "terrific" in the first half (which in no way means he didn't say that). I don't get that. 1 assist, several missed Js and forced contact prayers, more stand-up-and-swipe defense. You never know whether when a coach says something like that he really means it, or is saying it for some ulterior motive (i.e., pump up Rondo). Doc has forgotten more about basketball than I will ever know, but it sure looked to me from watching the game like Rondo continued his recent poor form in the first half and really turned it on in the second half. I'm curious about what others think.

        KG will go as hard as he possibly can until he keels over and dies on the court. This worries me. It is easier to play super-intense when you are well-rested. If you are not, you have to dig down into your limited-supply emergency reserves and start burning something that is not readily restored. I don't want KG going there at this point in the season. He is playing well, but you look at his face during the game and he looks gassed.

    • Zee

      I don't think Rondo had a lousy first half. It was the first game against the Lakers. He was filling out the opponent first. After he made his calculations, he executed his plan in the second half. I think that's smart.

    • Zee

      One other thing to consider about Rondo's game play. In the first half he didn't have to "play it up," because out the gate you could tell Pierce (and Doc) decidedly wanted The Truth to dominate from the get go. Pierce was creating his own offensive space for the most part. Rondo and he then did a tag team, giving Rondo the second stretch to get everyone else involved.

      • CG12

        I guess Doc and Rondo know better than I do. You can't argue with the results. It just seems like he isn't doing some of the stuff he was earlier in the year – blowing by guys on a regular basis, confidently shooting jumpers (and actually making them on occasion). I will have to watch the next few games looking for his effectiveness as a play-maker and game-manager. I'd love to see him push the ball. Nobody does it better.

        • Chris O

          Personally I was thinking after the first half somethin looked physically wrong with Rondo or must have been considering what occurred from Portland to PHO to first half vs. Lakers but then 2nd half he was incredible

        • Zee

          Just out of curiosity, how many C's games have you seen this season? No offense intended. I have league pass, so maybe I see much more than the televised games.

          But I ask that question because what you're saying about Rondo is EXACTLY what he has been doing all season. How do you think we're #1 in the east? How do you think he is #1 in assists this season? How do you explain this article that came out yesterday?

          Our record would be even higher if not for injuries.

          Trust me, Rondo is fine. 😉

    • Chris O

      KG looks tired? He had like 1500 rebounds last night bcuz he was tired…o wait or was he tired bcuz he got 1500 rebounds

  • VK28

    Kobe this.. Kobe that.. Celtics' ball movement and team chemistry is amazing, their preformence was pretty much perfect – a perfect TEAM effort – and when they play with high intensity no one can match them.

  • I actually read somewhere that Carmelo is statistically the best "crunch-time" player in the league. I'll try and dig up that story and share the link here. In any case, strong arguments can be made on both sides here- that you would want Kobe shooting, or that you'd want the shot to come from one of the other capable scorers on his team. I think an interesting idea to entertain about yesterday is this: were the other members on the Lakers taken out of the game (not physically, but figuratively) because Kobe decided to take over? Or was it because Kobe saw that his team wasn't invested and as a result decided the only way they could win was if he tried to do it all?
    P.S. I agree that more attention should be paid to crappy Laker defense, suffocating Celtic defense and superb Celtic execution offensively.

  • Dan

    The article indicated that Kobe not only shoots 30%, but he breaks end of game plays. That comes from Phil Jackson and goes beyond the argument here. Even if "clutchness" doesn't exist, Kobe tries to achieve it anyway by disrupting his team's offense to take the last shot. This has a negative effect on the team's performance – Phil Jackson is good at drawing up plays, Kobe shoots poorly on end of game shots (because he forces them instead of going with the play), and an open look is more likely to be converted than the forced shots Kobe puts up.

  • kricky

    As usual the national press is about: "What is wrong with the Fakers?" instead of the real story: the credit that should be given than this Celtics team for what they are doing.

    They've beaten the Heat (2X), Lakers, and Spurs and split 2 with Orlando (losing a close one without Rondo). When do they get some friggin' credit!!

    • Chris O

      Exactly what I've been wondering

    • DRJ1

      Cs are getting plenty of credit in the media. Too much, if you ask me. I liked it much better when all the "experts" thought we sucked, and we were basically the only true believers in the world… until Finals time.

  • You also have to consider the specific players he has around him at the end of games. With only a few exceptions, the Lakers have not had any top shooters on their team for late game situations. Compare the quality of shooter, not overall players, to those surrounding Lebron on the Heat or with the Cavs or the multiple threats from deep the Celtics have. Many times Kobe is the best pure shooter on the floor for the Lakers, which limits his options in last second situations. I disagree that it's entirely his ego which compels him to take the shot, I think it also is the result of lack of significantly better options. Whatever the case, like you said in the article, it's impossible to accurately measure, and I too will be glad to never hear anything about it again, on either side of the argument.

  • Cool Hand Luke

    Just a quick note: Sandler is a knicks fan, not a lakers fan, he probably wasn't happy but he did say at some point that he didn't no who to root against more strongly so I don't think he fits the article. Why no here's johnny picture?

    • hdavenport

      I actually like Jack Nicholson as a fan. He's truly obsessed. So it felt weird to throw him in next to Zac Efron and Lopez Tonight.

      • Cool Hand Luke

        Fair enough. He is a different level of fan.

    • Chris O

      Yea Sandler is a Knicks fan with NE and LA ties. He probably likes both the Lakers and Celtics but doesn't root for either one of them

  • CsFanInArkansas

    I think the Lakers' "best" 5 is probably the 5 you named if you're looking at individual star power…but I don't know anyone that would want those 5 guys on the court at the same time…

    You basically have 2 PFs and a big center…an old PG and Kobe. Odom's not going to really create offense for himself and certainly can't guard Pierce. Neither Blake nor Fischer are going to create much on O and I'm guessing Phil thought Blake could contribute a little more on the defensive end (trying to contain Rondo's speed – something Fischer's not capable of doing)…Artest is usually a much more servicable defender – and a better option at the SF position than Odom – but he was garbage last night…

    • Chris

      Good points. I went back and looked at that key part of the second quarter where the Lakers went from 7 down to 4 up and it was Bynum/Gasol/Artest/Kobe/Fisher with Kobe guarding Rondo. That's the key matchup. The C's scored 8 points on 9 clogged up posessions in that stretch.

      OTOH, in the 4th quarter, with Blake on Rondo, the C's scored 28 points on 19 well-executed posessions, including 16 points on 11 posessions during the part of the 4th quarter that I referred to in the original post. I believe that Artest was hurting in the 4th quarter, so Phil went with Blake, but that decision took them out of what worked so well for them defensively, i.e., Kobe on Rondo.

      On a side note: When did the Lakers get so thin? They only have 3 big men, if you include Odom and Luke Walton is their 9th man. Wow. Not even close to what the Celtics can bring!

  • CsFanInArkansas

    Overall, this LA team doesn't look nearly as impressive to me as the teams from the past two or three seasons. They don't have a bigtime PG. Their PF position isn't in danger of scaring ANYbody (Pau "Limp Wrist" Gasol is almost as intimidating as Lisa Leslie – however, he IS more skilled offensively). They're still way too soft at that position. Bynum looks as tired and ready for injury as ever. Artest is still up and down. Kobe is Kobe.

    Orlando, Miami and San Antonio worry me MUCH more than the Lakers this year.

  • Berkcelt

    I don't think that group ever took the floor for the Lakers yesterday. I'm not completely sure about this, but Artest's complete inefficacy in covering Pierce probably had something to do with him taking Kobe off of Rondo.

    I noticed the Cs offense picked up a little even when Kobe played Rondo, when RR went down on the baseline and stayed close to the basket. Kobe stuck to him, no longer playing center field.

  • Lakerzfan

    I'm a Laker's fan and the talk about Kobe is true. Most of the time (not all) he gets pissed off at his
    teammates for their lack of effort and tries to take over. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    This year, the Lakers are no where near the quality of the Celtics and in this game, they just
    played better D and batter offense. No other reasons–both ends of the court, Celts ruled.

    If the Lakers are not going to win it this year (very likely they won't), I do hope the Celtics kick
    the Heat's butt!

    • CsFanInArkansas

      we're 2-0 against the new heat so far this year…and we're just going to get better…

    • DRJ1

      Thanks. It's great to see a reasonable post from a Lakers fan… (you'd be surprised at how few there are on this end).

      Miami is probably a couple of years away from being able to compete with a team like the 10-11 Celtics. I think they'll get there eventually…. too much talent there not to… but it takes time, patience, intelligence, people skills, trust and togetherness, and dedication. This year? I don't see that they have a chance against a healthy Celtics team.

      But that's true of every team in the league. Cs are totally focused and dedicated this time. In some ways, even more so than they were in 08. That's because they recognize that this COULD be their last hurrah as THIS team. Next year is a big question mark, and 2 years out is so far away that they can't know who will be here and who will not. On top of which they now have Rondo approaching his career zenith, and everybody else playing some of the best ball of their lives. So fear not: Miami's not going through us. Nobody will… providing, of course, that we stay healthy.

  • MikeD

    Hayes – I think the point here is that if the game is on the line, Kobe is going to take a low percentage contested jumper. A team like the Celtics is going to take the best shot they can get. Sure, sometimes they run an ISO for Pierce so he can do his step back at the elbow, but how many times do they run the screen for Ray for an open 3? Or the alley oop to KG? The Celtics are creative in this situation and are much more likely to score than the Lakers. Is it because they have more weapons than the Lakers? Sorta, but not really. It is because they dont have egos, they just want to win. Because of Kobe's ego, they won't run a creative play for someone else. It will be Kobe taking a bad shot 100% of the time.

  • Jamie

    I think it's about time they consider moving Shaq to the bench and starting Perk. Shaq would give the 2nd unit a much needed boost of offensive fire power.

    • DRJ1

      They might wait for Delonte before they do that. Shaq and Rondo are SUCH a great pair, it'd be a shame to break em up. Shaq without somebody to feed him is a waste. Not that the other guys don't feed him, they do… but nobody does it like Rondo of course. The closest can be Delonte.

  • Chris O

    He had to put Kobe on Pierce, which is why Kobe came off Rondo.

  • Hayes, the rationale you put up regarding Kobe's "clutch" factor, or lack thereof, is actually supporting the thrust of Abbott's article. Kobe has a tendency to break the offense that has been generating easy looks for himself and teammates during the flow of the game to try a be the last second hero. The triangle isn't about having Kobe pound the ball for 12 seconds while he isos his man, only to take an 18 footer with a hand in his face.

    Also, tallying zero assists in nearly 40 minutes doesn't really constitute doing all the work. It's more like Kobe taking all the shots.

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