Kobe Won’t Change His Spots … Or Shots

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HANG TIME TEXAS – Do you really expect that someday you’ll hear about a leopard walking into a salon and asking the stylist to change his spots?

So then, why should anyone think a 6-for-28 night in Denver would make Kobe Bryant think about shooting less?

Kobe, after all, is Kobe, as Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles reminds us:

“I do what I do. If guys are open, I kick it to them, if they’re not, I shoot it,” Bryant said. “I play my game.”

Bryant, playing with a torn lunotriquetral ligament in his right (shooting) wrist that he suffered during the preseason, started off the season averaging 27.8 points on 48.1 percent shooting through the Lakers’ first four games but had difficulty with his accuracy over the weekend. He averaged just 16.5 points on 12-for-26 shooting (26.1 percent) in a back-to-back against the Nuggets that the Lakers split 1-1.

Through the first four games of the season, when Andrew Bynum was sidelined with a suspension, Bryant averaged 20.3 shot attempts per game. In the two games since Bynum came back, Bryant’s shot attempts actually increased to an average of 23.0 per contest. Meanwhile, Bynum has averaged 23.5 points per game on only 15 attempts per game and is shooting 66.7 percent from the field.

“We always start inside-out,” Bryant said, when asked about Bynum and Pau Gasol‘s effectiveness on offense. “If you mean (to ask me) if I’m going to shoot less, the answer is no. It starts with me. I do what I do and we play off of that. That’s not going to change.”

All that’s missing is a corncob pipe and a can of spinach to be Popeye the Sailor in short pants: “I yam what I yam.”

The Lakers will be back at home tonight for a Fan Night matchup with the Rockets on NBA TV (10:30 ET), still trying to find the right balance in an offense that’s been, well, bizarrely unbalanced through the first half-dozen games. How else would you describe a situation where Kobe’s shot attempts have actually increased in the two games since the big man Bynum has returned to the lineup after serving his suspension?

Oh yes, typical.

What we’re seeing is the early evolution of the Mike Brown-Bryant relationship. Where Phil Jackson might have used a weekend where Kobe made just 26 percent of his attempts in two games to a deliver a subtle message with a measured comment, the new boss is not yet comfortable in the deep water of Lakerland to rock the boat.

Meanwhile, tonight’s opponent will give Gasol an opportunity for an up-close look at the team he could have been anchoring if commissioner/general manager David Stern hadn’t exercised his veto power on the three-way trade that would have landed him in Houston with Chris Paul going to the Lakers.

What Gasol will see is a Houston team that is being re-built on the run under new coach Kevin McHale. As Jonathan Feigen says in the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets are very much a work in progress and have most of their chores to do on defense:

The Rockets have strived to work in (Samuel) Dalembert and bring back Patrick Patterson from his ankle surgery behind starters Jordan Hill and (Luis) Scola; Gasol and Bynum have rolled.

“It’ll be tough,” Patterson said. “They’re taller than us. We have to be more physical than them. If that’s what it comes down to, who is going to be tougher on the court?”

The Rockets have given up more points in the paint than any other team and by a wide margin. They allowed an average of 54.5 in their first four games, 4.5 more than second-to-last Sacramento.

The Lakers’ average of 46.1 points in the paint is eighth in the NBA, but they rank third in terms of the percentage of scoring that comes inside. And four of their six games came without Bynum, with his return making the Lakers more of a force at the rim than when the season began without him.

The Rockets have also added big men on the fly, but Bynum, unlike Dalembert, went through training camp and, unlike Patterson, was healthy. Dalembert and Patterson have practiced for a week.

Houston could have spent the season angrily re-living what might have been if they’d have been able to fit Gasol into the lineup and then used that addition as a stepping stone to lure free agent big man Nene to form what could have been a formidable front line. But the Rockets still have an athletic and interesting lineup that might be able to make a playoff push in the unsettled Western Conference, especially with the defending champions struggling in Dallas and San Antonio taking a blow with the injury to Manu Ginobili.

22 Comments

  1. mike says:

    46.1%*********************************

  2. mike says:

    I don’t know if anyone noticed this, but the article says he shot 26.1% and 12 for 26. Pardon my math but 12 divided by 26 is 26.1 %

  3. Anonymous says:

    He ended up dropping 37 points. AND Bynum got a 20-20. They make a good combination. I like how this hangtime blog is trying so hard to make it seem like Kobe is getting old and needs to call it quits or something. He’s still himself, he doesn’t need to slow down. You all need to focus away from Kobe’s age and more towards the Lakers improving as a team.

  4. Ao1 says:

    Keep shooting KOBE! Don’t bother what others may say. I’d say, shoot 30+ to 50+ per game. It would be fun!!!

  5. kevin says:

    Kobe just played his typical game the shots just wouldn’t fall. I believe tonight’s game will be totally different. He will have a 20 plus point game!!

  6. gorocks says:

    i think the game is going to be closer than expected.martin and lowry will put heat on the lakers tonight.especially martin from long range

  7. yummybocz1 says:

    i like the combination of lakers this year than before…they’l gonna gel as the nba progresses. am looking at how well the team will go after 15-20 games, kobe is kobe and he’l pretty sure make adjustments without him being told..go lakers GO

  8. Jeff Dee says:

    keep shooting kobe, i love it….

  9. Trax Laker Fan. says:

    kobe said it himself when he’s making all those shots no1 has a problem but when he starts 2 miss they all got somthing 2 say

  10. We just need to let Kope play his game. But we do need to run the court, not slow down the game.
    We need our big to run run and run the court . Put a little showtime in it. (Fisher) it would be best it he
    cames of the bench. We need to push the ball down court.

  11. Garen559 says:

    i think LA bench this season is amazing…and if bynum keeps doing what he is doing this season…i do not think trading him for D12 will be a good thing…well not this season…i say let this season ride out…D12 contract ends this summer…and he will leave orlando… and as for KObe like someone said when u shoot 81 points in 45 min…u got a green light no matter what the situation is

  12. BelizeBoy says:

    His job is to shoot the ball and he did. I think it was a bad call on Brown’s part not giving E-banks some playing time. His shooting really helped LA in their 3 wins.

    • forreson says:

      well said. I really was looking forward to seeing Ebanks out there, ever since he’s been on the floor he’s shown great improvement and progress. I really like his play, non-selfish role player. I know it must be hard for Defensive-minded brown to take some time off barnes and world peace, but I think he’s an essential player and should at least be put up in around the 3 or 2 if you want to run big at many times.

  13. Devon says:

    When you score 81 points and out score a team that went to the finals by your self for 3 quarters you have the green light the rest of your career

  14. Erick says:

    Kobe is kobe….. He will shoot if they are winning or losing. He doesnt let those critics bother him and thats what i like about him. He has confidence hopefully they can win this game so that the critics can shut up again….

  15. Laker Fan says:

    Your not a threat if your shooting and missing. Also kobe needs to work on not turning the ball over at critical times.
    He is responsible for 2 of the Lakers losses already…

  16. JROCK says:

    Kobe just played his typical game the shots just wouldn’t fall. I believe tonight’s game will be totally different. He will have a 20 plus point game!!

  17. Feces Occurs ! says:

    He could have/should have said ‘It is not my night tonight’ and stopped shooting, but;
    1. His constant threat is what wears the opponents thin … is what helps his team mates score.
    2. The guy just became the youngest to score 28,000 points … on his way to be the 5th ranking scorer all time, before the end of the season … etc. etc. … We can/should, just as easily, look the other way … this one time !

    • Pirate23 says:

      Well said, the media has a tendency to blow bad performances by superstars out of proportions. Whether it be kobe, lebron, dirk, etc. This man knows what he’s doing, back off.