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Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. Inconsistent much?

May 21, 2009
I knew I always liked Raja Bell...

I knew I always liked Raja Bell...

Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. He’s the topic for this evening as I watch the Cavs run all over Orlando.

It’s not time yet to write about all of the Celtic offseason issues– who to sign, who could be traded, what to do in order to make our roster as tight and great as possible for another run at #18 in 2010. There is still lots of good playoff basketball to be played, and after last night’s game, there is plenty to write about.

The Nuggs shouldn’t have lost last night, but they did. Melo arguably played his BEST basketball game of his professional career last night. Writers have been saying for the last few days that the Lakers will shut down Melo, and that he won’t be able to put up points like he has been doing in the first 2 rounds. How about Melo bursting out in the first quarter going 6-7, 2 of those shots being threes? Sit down, haters. Melo was so freakin’ efficient last night: he wasn’t wasting time dribbling, he wasn’t forcing shots– he caught and shot, and he just put the ball on the floor long enough for a few dribbles before pulling up.

In the 2nd quarter, the Lakers bench made the difference and brought down that 13 point (or so) lead down to 3. From there, the game was a tight, back-and-forth game between both teams with DEN leading most of the way.

The Nuggs played with some great defensive intensity, and for the most part, were efficient on offensive. Across the board, the teams match up pretty well against each other: Ariza + Melo, Pau + K-Mart, Nene + Bynum, Dahntay Jones + Kobe, Chauncey + Fisher. Both benches are also strong: Denver having the surprise play from guys like JR Smith, Birdman Anderson, and Anthony Carter; Lakers with Luke Walton, Sasha V, and Odom (although he’s playing starter minutes). Honestly, just a fantastic matchup out West.

Melo finished with 39 points, going 70% from the field (14-20, 4-5 from 3pt), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block. Just an amazing game by the ever-maturing Carmelo Anthony. This is the kind of franchise player Denver wanted when drafting him in 2003, and they are getting him at the team’s most important time.

And Kobe? Oh, Kobe. So many accolades for him today, so much high praise… And yes, I think some of it is deserved, but can we look at his numbers since the start of the Houston series?

Houston series:

  • Game 1: 14-31 FG (45%), 32 points
  • Game 2: 16-27 FG (59%), 40 points
  • Game 3: 11-28 FG (39%), 33 points
  • Game 4: 7-17 FG (41%), 15 points
  • Game 5: 10-19 FG (52%), 26 points
  • Game 6: 11-27 FG (40%), 32 points
  • Game 7: 4-12 FG (33%), 14 points

Denver series:

  • Game 1: 13-28 FG (46%), 40 points
Is Kobe out of chances? He might be if he doesnt get the job done this season.

Is Kobe out of chances? He might be if he doesn't get the job done this season. Raise your hand if you hate this picture.

Don’t get me wrong, these are some strong numbers… But inconsistent. Super inconsistent. He has not had 2 good back to back games since the start of the semis. 45% to 59% to 39% to 41% to 52% to 40% to 33% to 46%. Why aren’t we talking about this? Are we that in love with him? Why aren’t we talking about his age? Why aren’t we talking about the fact that he’s had to turn into an inconsistent jump shooter because he doesn’t have it in his legs to have a killer inside/outside game? Why aren’t we talking about how he rarely has comfortable back to back games with decent FG percentages? Are we all wrapped around his little finger? He’s had 13 long seasons under his belt, only missing the playoffs once (right?)? And for many of those years, his Laker teams have gone deep into the playoffs. The mileage is adding up. This year honestly could be his last chance: this Laker team is pretty much the team for the next couple of years UNLESS they trade a big commodity like Bynum or Odom or Gasol in return for some big names. Otherwise, they are locked into this team with guys like Sasha, Luke, Farmar, Brown… Kobe is aging, and not that gracefully. If anyone reading this truly believes that he is still the most dominant player in the league, you need to take the blinders off.

Look at his shots from the floor. Notice anything in particular? How about all of those Xs scattered across the floor? Outside of 15 feet, he wasn’t very effective last night. Forcing him into difficult shots is becoming easier for defenders…

Kobes make/misses from Game 1 v. DEN

Kobe's make/misses from Game 1 v. DEN

And to be honest, after seeing last night’s game, I don’t know if the Lakers can win this series. I won’t be surprised either way: Lakers in 7 or Nuggets in 7. The Nuggets have THE TOUGHEST front-court in basketball, and I just can’t get over that… and unfortunately for the Lake Show, they have a very non-physical front court. What’s even worse is that the Lakers THINK that they are tough. Gasol? Odom? Bynum? Please.

I don’t know if Kobe‘s inconsistent shooting is going to be enough to pull the Lakers through to the Finals. We know that Kobe will get the calls that will send him to the line, but what if the Nuggets continue to make guys like Odom, Gasol, and Bynum ineffective? 33%, 39%, 40%, 41% games just won’t cut it…

If Denver goes on to win this series, it will be great for their franchise and equally as satisfying for Celtics fans.
Go Nuggs.

Endnote • Want more fun anti-Kobe literature? Check out Curt Schilling’s words after he went to Game 2 of the ’08 NBA Finals.

What I do know is what I got to see up close and hear, was unexpected. From the first tip until about 4 minutes left in the game I saw and heard this guy [Kobe] bitch at his teammates. Every TO he came to the bench pissed, and a few of them he went to other guys and yelled about something they weren’t doing, or something they did wrong. No dialog about ‘hey let’s go, let’s get after it’ or whatever. He spent the better part of 3.5 quarters pissed off and ranting at the non-execution or lack of, of his team. Then when they made what almost was a historic run in the 4th, during a TO, he got down on the floor and basically said ‘Let’s f’ing go, right now, right here’ or something to that affect.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    May 25, 2009 8:30 pm

    I think inconsistency of shooting efficiency is part of the equation when you’re a scorer. Just look at guys like Lebron have their FG%’s fluctuate game to game. I agree that if you are a jumpshooter the effect can be more pronounced though, a good example is Ray Allen nowadays. It would be a shame if Kobe were declining due to age, but I’m not convinced that’s the case yet, as he has been remarkably durable and consistent with his overall production. In fact I think this longevity is the principle reason he is considered better than guys like Pierce or Vince Carter or T-Mac when really they have all been pretty similar. (T-Mac even peaked higher than Kobe.) It would be sad to see him decline so soon after hitting 30, but I think we will know for sure next year.

    Nice post.

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