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Section 109: Cavs/Lakers Wrapup

January 22, 2010
– As I sat in the Q last night, I enjoyed watching the Lakers field goal percentage posted on the scoreboard drop steadily through the game. L.A. was shooting 52% in the second quarter, then number began to slide like dirt off the side of a California canyon. First 48%, then 44%, then 42%, then it finally ground down to 38%. The Cavs spotted the Lakers to a nine-point lead and then shut down every offensive option except for Kobe Bryant. Even Bryant was forced to give up the ball or take increasingly tougher shots. He ended up 12 for 31. I was a little surprised that the Cavs didn’t use Delonte on him more. Parker is getting killed defending guys in motion this year, and last night’s game was the same. If AP gets set against a guy in the half court D, he’s effective. If he has to chase a guy through screens, he’s a step late.
– I’ve seen some great shooters play in the last 40 years. I’ve seen Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Larry BIrd, Mark Price. I’m not ashamed to say that Kobe is the best shooter I have ever seen. Period. I can’t think of a single other player who can score from every single inch of the floor — double-teamed, or over a tall defender, or off the dribble, or through a pick or spinning in mid-air. Having said that, he’s not the all-around great player LeBron is. Period.
– When you watch Bryant in person, you see what he does and doesn’t do well. For example, his footwork on defense is not good, which is why he ended up falling down twice while guarding LeBron. And yes, he’s a cheap shot now and then, He will try to tangle a guy’s legs. When he posts up a defender, his off arm (and elbow) goes right up to chin level. He will grab guys when he’s trying to defend through a pick. Tsk, tsk.
– So now the trade rumoristas understand why the Cavs are not interested in throwing in JJ Hickson with a trade deadline package. His 14-rebound performance showed the deep well of talent he has. Even though he’s a starter now, we have only seen flashes of how dominating his physical skills can be. He was raw, raw, raw last year when they first got him. Now he’s doing stuff like putting up-and-under moves on big post defenders like Pau Gasol. Physically, he reminds me a bit of a young Dennis Rodman (Not mentally, thank God) or even Garnett in the way he moves with or without the ball. He’s still got a lot of learning to do, and he has to be more consistent in his decisionmaking on the court. But that will come with playing time, and he has some of the best coaches and tutors a young big man could hope for — Shaq, Z, LeBron.
– Speaking of coaches, when will the Brown haters give it up? He’s only coached the Cavs to the best record in the league the first half of this year, after doing the same thing last year. That doesn’t happen by accident. Sure he has a superstar to help that along, but someone has to run the show. Just because you have an all-star or two doesn’t guarantee anything in a team sport. Just ask the folks in New Orleans, for example.
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