“Umm, it’s good … You know. I think sometimes he just … You know … Umm … Yeah, it’s good.”
—Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, when asked to describe Kobe Bryant’s off-the-ball defense, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
When Kobe has to defend on the ball — stop his man when said man has the ball — he is still a strong defender. He was on Kyrie Irving much of the night Sunday, helping hold him to 15 points in the Lakers win.
But over the past few seasons (and exacerbated this season), off the ball Kobe just roams around and tries to play free safety half the time. He chases the ball too much, tries to anticipate a pass to create a steal, and generally gambles and leaves the team exposed. There is no discipline and good teams, ones that move the ball, exploit this.
The Lakers are still Kobe’s team. D’Antoni is not going to go criticizing him in public. But the Lakers defense remains their biggest stumbling block, the thing most needing to be fixed if they are serious about making it into the playoffs. And Kobe is part of the problem. The Lakers get out of position, they don’t help the helper, they don’t make the second and third efforts. Kobe is part of the problem. We’ll see going forward if Kobe is part of the solution.
Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.
And if this headline looks familiar, it is.
LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.
As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!
No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.
The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.
Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:
So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?
“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”
“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”
“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”
Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.
And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.
Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?
LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.
It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.