Oklahoma City Thunder: Who coaches the Lakers?
The Thunder-Laker series is four games old. Play four games in six days against the same opponent, and you find all kinds of trends and revelations and questions. Here are my Laker thoughts:
* Mike Brown is a good coach. He’s done a good job with this team, which has its star power but also has its limitations.
But Brown doesn’t coach Kobe Bryant. Kobe coaches Kobe. That’s a problem. Kobe popped Pau Gasol pretty good after Game 4, saying Gasol had to be more assertive. Maybe so. But Kobe has to be less assertive. Kobe has taken 96 shots in this series (and made 37, 38.5 percent), plus 44 foul shots and nine turnovers. So that’s the equivalent of 127 “usages,” the term to define the end of a possession, which by definition ends with a shot, foul shot or a turnover. To get the usage total, you cut the foul shots in half.
By comparison, Kevin Durant has taken 72 shots (and made 39, 54.1 percent) and 28 foul shots, plus 12 turnovers. So that’s 98 usages. Kobe has ended possessions 31 more times than has Durant in this series. And Kobe has outscored Durant 114-109.
* Gasol is not what he once was. He once was a wonderfully-skilled big man who could produce a huge game. But he’s deferred, and not so much to Kobe, but to Drew Bynum. Bynum is now the Lakers’ primary post scorer. And as good of a job as Kendrick Perkins has done on Bynum, Serge Ibaka has done on Gasol. Gasol was 18th in the NBA in field-goal percentage, .501, this season. In this series, Gasol has made 19 of 40 shots, 47.5 percent.
Gasol has become more of a classic power forward: strong rebounder (34 in the four games vs. the Thunder) and solid scorer (46 points) but no real threat to have a breakout game.
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