Byron Scott seems to be figuring out Kobe Bryant.
After creating a ridiculous plan to give Kobe way too many minutes, Scott realized the error of his ways and rested the Lakers star three straight games.
Scott also planned to rely on Kobe for a lot of scoring, but that just led a lot of missed shots. Again, it seems Scott corrected the problem.
In the two games since his return, Kobe has taken his fewest shots of the season – 10 in a loss to the Suns and 11 in a win over the Nuggets. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Lakers posted their two highest effective field-goal percentages of the season in those games while scoring 107 points against Phoenix and 111 points against Denver.
All good, right?
Scott on Kobe, via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:
“I’d like him to be a little bit more aggressive, and take a little bit more shots,” said Scott
“He’s just taking what the defenses are giving him. That’s what great players do,” said Scott. “The last two games, his shot selection has been great, but he hasn’t gotten the number of shots we’d like him to get on normal basis — but everything else has been up so you can’t argue with that.”
Kobe’s teammates stopped deferring to him so much, which is exactly what Scott wanted. And it worked! A more-balance offense with Kobe taking fewer bad shots meant more good shots for everyone else. Why would Scott want to move away from that?
I understand coaching Kobe is complicated, and he requires special treatment, as do nearly all players with star status. But it seems the Lakers, in the process of serving Kobe, are just intent on pushing the bounds of their absurdity.
It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.
Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.
The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.
Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).
Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.
If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.
Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).
With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.
Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.
Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.
The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.
It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.
Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.
Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).
One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.