The Lakers have lost four of their last six games, and Phil Jackson, Andrew Bynum, and Pau Gasol have alternated taking veiled – and in Jackson’s case, not so veiled – shots at Kobe Bryant.In the teams’ bad stretches, Kobe Bryant disrupts Jackson’s vaunted triangle offence and tries to take over games on his own.
- In the aftermath of last night’s 104-85 loss to the Grizzlies, Phil Jackson said: “Kobe had to screw up the game and start energizing the team by going one-on-one… That takes the rest of the guys out and as a consequence, that didn’t bring us back in.” Bryant scored 17 points on 12 shots in the third period, but Memphis outscored Los Angeles 31-23 that quarter.
- After Kobe took 27 shots – and misfired on 13 consecutive tries – in a loss to San Antonio last week, Andrew Bynum said: “We need to really stay inside the system, attack teams and use the mismatches to our advantage.”
- Pau Gasol had this to say, after the Spurs loss: “We didn’t play a smart game, put it that way… We have to recognise what’s going on and understand what our strengths are against certain opponents, and try to exploit them.”
- It can’t be an individual effort from nobody,” Gasol added. “It has to be altogether on a string, like a family.”
Those guys have reason to complain. In 11 Lakers’ losses, Bryant has averaged 41.3 per cent shooting on 23.5 shots per game. Compare that with 46.8 per cent shooting on 17.9 shots per game in 23 wins.
Bryant usually begins to play a one-man game when his team is already trailing, so don’t confuse this with an argument that Bryant is detrimental to the Lakers success.
Rather, Bryant says he takes over to get his teammates going when they’re demonstrating a lack of intensity. But the upward spike in shot attempts actually takes his teammates further out of the game by limiting their touches. And the falling shooting numbers indicate this is not a successful strategy.
Kobe’s one-man game also takes the Lakers out of the triangle offence – that starts with an entry pass to the post, and not with ball-handler bringing up the rock and taking his man off the dribble – that has netted Phil Jackson 11 championships.
Perhaps this was a better option for the Lakers back in 2006 when Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown were getting minutes in the post and Bryant was a spry 27-year-old. But in this era of Lakers glory, Bryant has too many talented teammates to feel he needs to shoot his way to victory.
Until, Kobe accepts that fact, mid-game deficits will often result in Lakers defeat.
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