Our reader Jeffs raised an interesting point/question about Kobe Bryant’s shooting percentage, and why it’s not higher. It’s now .446 this season, which has caused his career shooting percentage to dip slightly to .452. You-know-who, the dude from Chicago, had a career shooting percentage of .497.
I think it’s a product of a couple things. First, Kobe has never been a spectacular shooter, in terms of pure numbers. He has never shot better than 46 percent in a season. He takes a lot of shots and he’s streaky. He can miss a lot in a row, but of course when he starts making them, look out below.
But I think there’s a couple things you can look at in the last couple years. These are just my observations and I welcome everyone’s input. One, I don’t see Kobe attacking the basket as much as he did previously. That’s a product of him simply getting a little older and dealing with a lot of nagging injuries, particularly with his knees. That explosion to the basket, it’s still there from time to time, but it’s not quite the same. It doesn’t make him any less of a player, just a different one. The other thing, and this is more of a criticism, is that I think Kobe tries too hard to draw contact. Sometimes it works really well, when opponents bite on his pump-fakes and moves, but if they’re not biting, or the refs aren’t calling it tight, he ends up throwing up a lot of bad shots. That, in turn, leads to him getting frustrated and maybe taking himself out of the game a bit.
Sasha Vujacic has reached double figures in scoring in consecutive games for the first time this season. He followed up his 14-point, 19-minute effort with a 19-point, 20-minute effort against the Bulls. The Chicago game was even more impressive, since all of his points against the Clippers came in the fourth quarter of a blowout.
Has Sasha turned the corner, or is this a fluke? He’s known for having a brilliant game here and there, and then receding back to the end of the bench. Defense is always going to be an issue that holds him back, at least in the eyes of coach Phil Jackson. Here’s what Vujacic had to say after last night’s game:
“(Jackson) showed me he has confidence in me. That was the key thing for me. I’m having fun, playing basketball the way I used to play. I’m enjoying it.”
An 18-4 fourth-quarter run carries the day and carries the Lakers to another victory, their sixth in their last seven games.
— The Lakers won on a night when Kobe Bryant (18 points, 7 of 19) wasn’t at his best. Both Bryant and Derek Fisher got off to slow starts but a team effort brought the Lakers through. Six players scored between 10 and 19 points.
— You can’t stop Sasha Vujacic, you can only hope… well, you know. But Vujacic turned in another remarkable performance with a team-high 19 points. Not sure how long this will last, but the Lakers will ride it for all it’s worth.
— Key stat? The Lakers had 17 offensive rebounds. That definitely made up for the sub-par shooting. And much like the scoring, it was a collective effort, as five players had at least two offensive rebounds. Andrew Bynum had a team-high four. Bynum had 10 rebounds total and Lamar Odom had 16.
— Another pretty good ball-movement night for the Lakers, who had 29 assists on 37 field goals.
— Luke Walton shows more signs of coming out of his slump, with 12 points and five assists.
Here’s what Phil Jackson had to say about returning to Chicago, where he won the first six of his nine NBA championships as a coach:
Phil Jackson on returning to Chicago:
Theres still a lot of warm-fuzzy feelings. Not one specific thing (popped into his head), its just the look of the place. The emergence of Michael Jordan. The team wanted to do well. That was a big key. There were pieces that came together in the late 1980s. Probably the trade for Bill Cartwright.
Phil on Kobe playing in Chicago after the trade talk:
There will be some emotions about it. Im not sure how its going to go. Im sure he wants to do well. He got Chicago fever there for a little bit. He actually had a desire to be here and tried to fulfill that. It was an awful longshot from the beginning. Its just difficult to work those things out. Very hard.
Guess what? There were a couple questions for Kobe Bryant in Chicago today. Go figure! Kudos to Bryant for stepping up and at least answering the questions, rather than hiding in the trainer’s room. And he actually said something fairly interesting to people not holding ESPN microphones!
Here’s what we know about tonight’s game vs. Chicago:
Vladimir Radmanovic suffered two sprained wrists during a second-half fall against the Clippers on Sunday. He is probably doubtful for tonight’s game, although his status isn’t certain since the Lakers didn’t practice yesterday.
Kwame Brown is still out and did not accompany the team on its four-game road trip. The soonest he would play would be Christmas Day.
Luol Deng is undergoing daily treatment for a sore back but is expected to play tonight.
Tyrus Thomas reportedly hurt his hip during practice Sunday but is expected to play tonight.
Vladimir Radmanovic has two sprained wrists, according to Lakers’ spokesman John Black. Radmanovic sustained the injury in the second half of Sunday’s victory over the Clippers. X-rays were taken in the locker room and came back negative. He is considered day-to-day.