Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant looks on against the New York Knicks during second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

Kobe shooting woes sign of changes coming to Lakers


Kobe Bryant was ice cold last night, shooting 6-of-28. That of course has led to the standard black or white Kobe discussion on the internet — his defenders act as if he can do no wrong, his detractors think he shoots for his ego not because he’s one of the game’s great all time shooters.

As with all things Kobe, it’s not that simple.

Kobe and the Lakers are adjusting to major changes — Mike Brown’s new offense and the shift of the Lakers to an inside-out offensive team. Here is what Brown told the Los Angeles Daily News.

“We got a couple of things we can run to get (Kobe) in his sweet spots,” Brown said. “I’m still trying to figure out that, too. We’ve got a guy like (Andrew) Bynum, we’ve got a guy like (Pau) Gasol, who deserve touches. You always want to play in the flow. We’re all kind of feeling our way right now.”

Kobe is now a primary ball handler on the pick-and-roll and that’s a big adjustment from the actions of the triangle. Unleashed like this Kobe’s nature is to attack — and so he takes on more of the offensive load. He has a usage rate of 38.2 (basically percentage of possessions used when he is on the floor), which is the highest it has been since the Smush Parker/Kwame Brown era in Los Angeles.

Just like those seasons, when Kobe starts off shooting 1-of-10 like he did Sunday night he will keep shooting because Kobe has shot his way out of slumps for 15 seasons. His incredible confidence in himself is a reason he has 28,000 career points. He still sees himself as the best scoring option.

But Kobe has to adjust.

The Lakers beat Denver the night before because despite having Nene the Nuggets can’t stop Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. For two games Bynum is averaging 23.5 points per game shooting 66.7 percent — feed the man the ball.

Kobe is the only guy who can really create his own shot on the perimeter for this Lakers squad, Kobe is going to be the guy with the ball in his injured hands. But he must learn to be a distributor more than just a scorer. For the sake of the Lakers he has to approach it differently. He has to feed the post more. He has to get himself to the post more. The Lakers need to work inside out.

The Lakers have the size and skill up front that no team can match. That is where they are going to win games, that is where they are going to advance deep into the playoffs (that and defense). Kobe still needs to be Kobe, but a modified version. Sort of like the Lakers themselves.

Can Kobe adapt? Can the Lakers? It may take time, but if they can they are a threat in the West. If not, things will end early for an older Lakers team.

Kristaps Porzingis grew up a Kobe fan. Still is one.


When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.

So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.

Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.

“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”

There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.

In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.

There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.

(Hat tip NBA reddit)

Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton’s car stolen

Luke Walton

If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.

Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports NBCBayArea.com.

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.

Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.

Yikes. That’s serious.

I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.

Pacers guard George Hill returns Tuesday against Wizards

Paul George, Marcus Morris
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.

Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.

Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.

Hassan Whiteside on intentional fouls: “It’s not working, so keep fouling me”

Hassan Whiteside

Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.

Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.

And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”

He’s even smart at not getting fouled.

Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.

“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”

Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.

And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.