Surgery for Kobe?

Kobe Bryant has been playing with a busted-up right pinkie finger, and it’s worse than anyone thought. An examination by hand specialist Dr. Steven Shin revealed that Bryant has “a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament, an avulsion fracture and a volar plate injury at the MCP joint.”

Basically, it’s in bad shape.

Dr. Shinn has recommended surgery, which would cause Bryant to miss approximately six weeks, but Bryant is resisting the idea.

In a statement released by the Lakers, Bryant said, “My current thinking is to give my finger some treatment and rest for a few days, and hope I can still continue to compete at a high level after that rest. I would prefer to delay any surgical procedure until after our Lakers season, and this summers Olympic Games. But, this is an injury that myself and the Lakers medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis.

There is no definitive word on Bryant’s involvement in the All-Star Game, but Bryant and the Lakers are against it. Apparently, there’s some strife with the NBA about the matter.

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Kobe’s shooting percentage

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.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Sasha’s Surge

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.”

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Daily headlines

Here are the stories, the morning after the Lakers’ victory over Chicago…

Daily News: Lakers keep moving fourth (game story)

Daily News: Bryant over `Chicago Fever’ (notebook)

L.A. Times: Bryant, Lakers own this town, and team (game story)

L.A. Times: Lakers’ Bryant, Jackson are Chicago focal points (notebook)

O.C. Register: Lakers solid (game story/notebook)

Press-Enterprise: Supporting cast leads Lakers to 103-91 win in Chicago (game story)

Press-Enterprise: Kobe Admits ‘Chicago Fever’ (notebook)

SI.com: Fun times (Marty Burns’ NBA column on Kobe Bryant)

Chicago Tribune: Bulls stumble in 4th quarter, lose to Lakers (game story)

Chicago Tribune: Kobe’s dominant presence on display (Sam Smith column)

Chicago Tribune: Wallace’s slow start gets Gray on court (notebook)

Chicago Sun-Times: Kobe on Bulls: “No. 1 with a bullet” (Jay Mariotti column)

Chicago Sun-Times: Kobe gets mixed reception (game story)

Chicago Sun-Times: Bryant still the buzz (notebook)

Northwest Herald: Rumors seem to benefit Bryant, Lakers while Bulls suffer (game story)

Northwest Herald: Jackson anxious about Bryant (notebook)

Daily Herald: Lakers’ depth a problem for Bulls (game story)

Daily Herald: For Bryant, playing is ‘therapy’ (notebook)

Daily Herald: Such a relief Kobe’s happy for now (Mike Imrem column)

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Lakers 103, Bulls 91

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.

Now it’s on to Cleveland…

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Phil talks Chicago

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.

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Kobe talks Chicago

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 Kobe had to say just about an hour ago, courtesy of our man Elliott Teaford in Chicago:
Continue reading

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The word(s) from Chicago

Here’s what they’re saying in Chicago in advance of tonight’s game against the Lakers:

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Bulls are moving on without Kobe Bryant after months of trade speculation.

Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune tells Chicagoans that the Lakers are doing just fine and don’t need to trade Kobe Bryant.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes about Luol Deng’s continuing back problems and gives a glimpse at how the Bulls might defend Kobe Bryant.

Steve Tucker of the Chicago Sun-Times writes about Kobe Bryant’s visit with local high school players and the solid advice he gave them.

Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes about Luol Deng, playing in the shadow of Kobe Bryant and the constant trade rumors.

Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes about a tough week for Tyrus Thomas.

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald writes about Luol Deng’s sore back.

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald writes about the Bulls’ rough schedule.

Timothy Wolfmeyer of the Northwest Herald writes about Kobe Bryant’s trip to Chicago, still as a visiting player.

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Injury report

Here’s what we know about tonight’s game vs. Chicago:

LAKERS

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.

CHICAGO

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.

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