Tag Archives: Kobe Bryant
We interrupt our ordinary coverage of
meaningless late-season Wolves games with the earthshaking news out of Los Angeles:
Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon and may never play another NBA game.
Just typing that sentence feels outlandish.
Kobe drove left on Harrison Barnes and went down in a heap. On replay the foot plant looked innocuous. Social media commenced a hunt for blame. Mike D’Antoni and the NBA schedule were the chief suspects. Kobe had some liability of his own.
“I try to stay away from that, and the reason is: I would never ask a player to play against a ghost; past, present, or future. We could only play against the guy that showed up while we were playing.”
That was Bill Russell’s response to Chris Webber asking him for input in the
never-ending recent debate about individual legacies and how championship rings factor in. It was an especially hot-button issue over All-Star Weekend because Michael Jordan — whose 50th Birthday was being celebrated by the media — said he’d pick Kobe Bryant over LeBron James because, “five beats one every time I look at it.”
This is an unusually late game wrap for a number of reasons. First, I could not watch the entire game on Friday. My roommate just turned 30, we hosted a little party for that occasion (that later in the night had a chance encounter with Alexey Shved and much of the Wolves roster, which was fun–Shved is a humble dude, very approachable by
losers superfans like myself), and while the game was on, I wasn’t able to pay close enough attention to feel like my game wrap would provide anything very meaningful. Second, the Wolves have three days off between Friday’s game and Tuesday’s matchup with the Sixers (at Philly, 6:00 CST) so I thought posting in the middle of the downtime would be of more value to readers. Third, this won’t be as much a “game wrap” as some observations about Wolves and NBA issues.
Alexey Shved: Starting to make shots, now what’s his ideal role?
This coming Thursday is the tenth anniversary of the first time I watched Kobe Bryant play, in person. In rather odd circumstances (for me, at least) I was able to attend this game at Staples Center. While this playoff series (2002 Lakers-Kings) is one of the most-famous non-Finals in NBA history, this particular game is not a reason why. Rick Adelman’s Kings pounced on Shaq and Kobe in the 1st Quarter and never really let up. Chris Webber and Mike Bibby handled them from start to finish, extending the lead to 27 in the 4th Quarter. Looking at that box score, it’s interesting to note that Adelman only played seven guys in that playoff game. As you probably know, the Kings lost Game 6 largely due to horrible officiating and Game 7 (in overtime) largely due to missing free throws. Kobe and the Lakers went on to win a third consecutive NBA title. He was in his prime, closing out big games when Shaq and his free-throw shooting took a necessary backseat. Continue reading
With the Wolves playing again tonight (at Houston, 7:00 CST, FSN North) I’m going to wrap up last night’s loss to the Lakers rather briefly, Clint Eastwood style.
The end-of-third-quarter lineup of Rubio-Webster-Beasley-Randolph-Love. After the struggling through two and a half quarters of ugly basketball and trailing by 18 points, Rick Adelman called timeout. He subbed Webster in for Wes Johnson, Beasley in for Luke Ridnour, and Randolph in for Brad Miller (made his season debut, managed to get T’d up in 8 minutes of action).
This group, arguably the five most talented Timberwolves, ripped off a 19-6 run to end the quarter that FINALLY got the crowd rocking on a cold Sunday Night in Minneapolis. Ricky pushed the tempo, jumpers started falling, and the ones that missed were tipped in by aggressive crashing of the boards. This momentum carried into the fourth quarter with the Wolves eventually taking small leads late into the game. The +/- numbers were kind to Beasley, Randolph and Webster due to this stretch of play.
Also in the “good” column: Kobe Bean Bryant. He’s become even-more polarizing than ever this year, chucking shots at a higher rate with (slightly) diminished ability on a Laker team that is struggling to meet the championship-level standard to which it is held. Kobe’s historically-great skill set was on display last night as he put together a 35-point, 14-rebound performance that left Wolves fans shaking their heads and Laker fans (lots of them showed up in their Number 24’s) going wild.
Timberwolves shooting. The Wolves shot 25 more times than the Lakers did from the floor, and the same number of times from the free throw line. The problem was that LA hit 50.6 percent of shots, and Minnesota hit 38.5 percent (40-104). The worst offenders were Rubio (2-13) and Webster (4-15). On a night when the Wolves pulled down 24 offensive rebounds, turned the ball over only 4 times, and shot the same number of free throws as the opposition, a defeat is rather puzzling. Shots weren’t falling.
The “defense” being played on Andrew Bynum in the last three minutes of the game. Adelman had the Wolves playing some zone defense in the fourth, and it was successful in part in forcing difficult shots and containing Kobe. But in a key sequence late in the game, it left the enormous Andrew Bynum open in the paint for easy dunks. The first one gave the Lakers a 95-94 lead with 3:04 to go. The second extended a one point lead to three, with 1:49 to go. In these crucial possessions, it isn’t asking much to prevent uncontested dunks. Defensive breakdowns were ugly to watch and helped lead to a disappointing loss.
Season Record: 9-11