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Kobe makes lone appearance at the Palace

With the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Detroit Pistons today, PistonPowered reached out to Phillip Barnett and Emile Avanessian of Forum Blue and Gold, the Lakers TrueHoop Affiliate blog, to go 3-on-3.


  • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers (21-26) at Detroit Pistons (18-29)
  • Date: February 3rd, 2012
  • Time: 1:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

1. Is it fair to say that the evolution of Kobe Bryant’s role has turned Steve Nash into a glorified version of Derek Fisher?

Phillip Barnett, Forum Blue and Gold: I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. With Kobe looking to be a facilitator, Steve Nash has essentially turned into a two guard with the Lakers looking for him to pick up some of the scoring Kobe has sacrificed to get his teammates involved. Also, if you’re watching these sets closely, Nash is really the one initiating the offense, directing everyone where they need to be before Kobe even touches the ball. Fisher, especially during his later years with the Lakers, was a guy the Lakers were just hoping could make some open shots, and anything more than six points in any given game was a bonus as Kobe was still leaned on to score 25 points per game. The roles for Nash and Fish are completely different.

Emile Avanessian, Forum Blue Gold: I don’t know that I’d go quite that far, but it’s certainly fair to say that Kobe’s newfound love of playmaking has marginalized Nash’s role on the team. At his best, Nash is the NBA’s equivalent of Peyton Manning – not only the engine of the offense of which he’s at the helm, but also its brain. Beyond his obvious aptitude for making crisp passes and shooting from the perimeter, Nash possesses a Cousy-esque hoops genius that’s only fully on display when the ball is in his hands. Steve Nash is truly Steve Nash when he’s exploring opposing defenses – tightroping the baseline, probing, pinballing in the paint, and emerging, ball on a string, the opposition in disarray.

These days, Nash is, nominally, the Lakers’ point guard, though in reality his role hinges on the ability provide a spot-up release valve while one the game’s greatest- ever scorers shows the word how much better he thinks he is than Nash at Nash’s job.

Huh. Let’s move on, shall we?

J.M. Poulard, PistonPowered: Ever since the January 25th game versus Utah, Kobe Bryant has essentially abandoned the idea of solely focusing on scoring and is instead more focused on sharing the ball with his teammates and getting all of them involved. The consequence has been that Nash has had far less ball-handling duties and has been reduced to the role of spot up shooter for the most part.

In Fisher’s last three seasons under Phil Jackson, his usage rate (percentage of a team’s possessions) hovered around 14, while Steve Nash’s usage rate in the last five games since the shift in Kobe’s game has been at 14.7 per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

The two-time MVP has been more of off-ball threat, but he’s also been converting a sizzling 56.8 percent of his field goals and 58.8 percent of his 3-point shots. So yes, Nash has been a glorified version of Fisher.

2. Which player would you rather have for the next three years: Greg Monroe or Pau Gasol?

Phillip Barnett: Based on age alone, I’d want Greg Monroe. If you take a look at Monroe’s game, he has a lot of skill sets that fit well with the current makeup of this team. He’s been the best this season cutting off the ball and in pick-and-role actions. He has a very good feel off the ball of knowing when to cut and where the soft spot in the defense is. With Kobe in his facilitator mode and Steve Nash on the roster, Monroe could have some fantastic games just making the correct basketball move. Gasol’s skill set is far superior to Monroe, but Monroe does some great things and has shown some improvement as a playmaker for others. He’s going to be a very good player as he continues to develop, and that coupled with his age, I believe, is enough to give him the nod over Pau for the next three years.

Emile Avanessian: At the peak of his powers, the group of bigs in NBA history for whom I’d trade Pau Gasol is not terribly large. These days, unfortunately, thanks to the effects of human aging, tendinitis and the cumulative toll on the psyche of an extended stay in Lakerland, the peak of Pau’s powers is firmly ensconced in the past. Under the right set of circumstances (I don’t want to say “without Dwight”… though I just did) Pau remains a very good NBA big man and, as we discussed ad nauseum prior to the season, an excellent stylistic fit alongside Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Were we to look only to the next year, I’d almost certainly opt to stay the course with Pau.

For the next three, however? Despite something of a Junior Slump (that’s a thing, right?) that’s removed him from this year’s All-Star conversation and temporarily put the “Monroe v. DeMarcus” debate to bed, it’s Monroe. For starters, he’s just 22, extremely durable (just two games missed in over two and a half NBA seasons) and provides a versatility similar to that delivered by Pau. Monroe’s productivity is down compared to last season, but he remains a fairly efficient scorer (52.6% true Shooting, 19.3 PER with a moderate 25% Usage Rate), a very good defensive rebounder (though his Offensive Rebound Rate has tanked, from 13.3 a year ago, to just 9.8 this season), one of the best passing big men in the NBA (http://bkref.com/tiny/EwcFx) and an excellent ballhawk for a man his size (http://bkref.com/tiny/wLwLx).

J.M. Poulard: In a vacuum, the answer might be Pau Gasol given his immense post skills — passing and scoring — as well as his ability to play in the high post.

But the poor use of Gasol’s talents leaves you wondering if his confidence has taken a small dent.

Greg Monroe on the other hand is already a terrific passer, good high post player and also a big man that can be devastating in the low post if he gets the right matchup. It stands to reason that he will only improve within the next three years and become an unstoppable force at the center position.

So the answer: Greg Monroe.

3. Favorite and least favorite Kobe Bryant moment involving the Detroit Pistons?

Phillip Barnett: Favorite: During that ridiculous 2006 season, Kobe led the Lakers to a win over the Pistons with 40 points on 26 shots. He had a True Shooting Percentage of .676 and an offensive rating of 157 (!).

Least Favorite: Game 3 of the 2004 Finals. 11 points on 13 shots. Four TOs. Lots of depression. Actually, everything about that series except for his game winner makes me want to vomit everywhere.


Emile Avanessian: Buzzer beater in Game 2 of the ’04 Finals.

Least favorite? Every other moment from the 2004 Finals.

J.M. Poulard: My favorite Kobe Bryant moment against the Pistons has to be Game 2 of the 2004 NBA Finals. Back then, the player that wore no. 8 sent the game to overtime with a killer 3-point shot and helped the Lakers close the game out in the extra period.

My least favorite Kobe Bryant moment is the 2004 title round as a whole. The Black Mamba ignored some of his teammates and force up some incredibly tough shots with Tayshaun Prince defending him.

The killer stat of the 2004 NBA Finals: Kobe attempted 27 more field goals than Shaquille O’Neal, and yet the Diesel managed to produce 53 field goals to Kobe’s 43. Bryant converted 38.1 percent of his field goals in that series but never stopped firing.

Read about the Lakers

Forum Blue and Gold.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.


  • Feb 3, 201312:13 pm
    by tarsier


    I remember the signs Pistons fans were holding during that Finals, “I see Shaq and Kobe, but where are the Lakers?” or “A full house beats a pair” and thinking the Pistons were awesome, but thank goodness they only had to deal with Shaq playing at a high level and not Shaq and Kobe as they were implying. Otherwise, I don’t know if Detroit had enough to win the series.

  • Feb 3, 201312:27 pm
    by DasMark


    Detroit won the 2004 series because their chemistry trumped the Lakers overall talent. 

    It also helped that their weakest position, PG, was where our strongest offensive weapon resided. Billups made short work of the Lakers, and will always be remembered as one of the best Pistons in franchise history.

    Today, I hope Detroit comes out aggressive and stays that way throughout the game. If Dwight doesn’t play, they’ll have an edge inside, even though Pau is still an elite big.

    Knight needs to come out like he did in Cleveland and attack, attack, attack. Nash cannot handle Knight, and Stuckey should keep Bryant occupied.  

    • Feb 3, 201312:50 pm
      by NickB


      Absolutely. We really can win this game, and I can’t wait. Brandon Knight only has a few more opportunities to be the starting point guard before Caulderon takes over, so he’ll be looking to dominate tonight.

  • Feb 3, 201312:56 pm
    by sloppy joe


    Wait Calderon isnt playing?

    I thought the problem was his Visa.

    Doesn’t him being at the last game mean his problem was sorted out? 

  • Feb 3, 20131:11 pm
    by Oz


    Didn’t play last game. Just a visitor:  Funny Canada seems to have been able to get Gay’s paperwork in order in a few hours.  

  • Feb 3, 20132:03 pm
    by Jopl


    Fuck Artest.

  • Feb 3, 20132:07 pm
    by frankie d


    well, knight, the big dummy has returned.
    brain cramps right and left. 

    • Feb 3, 20134:12 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      I saw knight make one bad pass this game…

      His shot just wasnt falling…

      its encouraging because we know he can make those shots…i’ll be excited to see how him and Calderon work together…

      But we could be soo very good with Drummond in the starting line up 

  • Feb 3, 20132:12 pm
    by frankie d


    this game reinforces two realities:
    knight only plays like he has a brain on certain occasions;
    and, lawrence frank is still an idiot.
    on an out of bounds play where the only play is a lob to the rim, he:
    - doesn’t have his best rim defender in the game
    -has his only big guy on the floor defending the out of bounds pass.
    - his only “big” – maxiell – in the game is outside of the lane guarding his man15 feet away from the rim, regardless that his man doesn’t have enough time to get a shot off, only a catch and flush at the rim.
    yep, that lawrence frank is a real genius. 

  • Feb 3, 20132:47 pm
    by frankie d


    funny…laker announcers wondered why the pistons had not tried a zone today.
    after all, they’d had trouble in minnesota adjusting to a zone.
    gosh, no one would ever try to do something that worked… 

  • Feb 3, 20132:57 pm
    by frankie d


    monroe and drummond in the game…
    where are the shooters?
    he puts in knight…who is 1-8 or 9.
    great coaching. 

    • Feb 3, 20133:42 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      actually … agree with Frank on that…Knight is gonna be the 2 …you have to go with you best play at the 2….

      other other option i Stuckey and English…

      and Knight was play solid defense…switching from Kobe, To Nash to Artest…. both Knight , Singler and Charlie missed open 3′s down the stretch of that game it happens

  • Feb 3, 20133:26 pm
    by jinzzy


    throw the ball to drummond

  • Feb 3, 20133:36 pm
    by Jopl


    2 hands Drummond!  2 hands!

    • Feb 3, 20133:44 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      look like Gasol had got one of his arms…Refs were not going to call it tho..

  • Feb 3, 20133:39 pm


    Hell of a game…could have stole that one…

    Not gonna blast Will…because without him…we probably lose by 20 + points…

    But the last two lay ups he missed…those could have been easy dunks for Dre…who was trialing him each time…I think he got a superstar bug late in that game…

    And that last pass yo Drummond got me out of my seat, I thought he dunked it…but i actually jumped too high it was on his rest/forearm areas..he just miss timed it…

    Games like this I have little regrets…I wish Knight shot the ball better….. but oh well

  • Feb 3, 20133:45 pm
    by kamal


    Didn’t see the game.  Followed the game tracker.

    Can somebody tell me why Monroe didn’t play much in the 4th? 

    • Feb 3, 20133:49 pm
      by jinzzy


      He didnt play because he Cant play defence plus CV ‘s shots were falling

      • Feb 3, 20133:54 pm
        by David


        CV doesn’t defend better than Monroe. And Monroe’s shots were falling (9-14) too.

        I can see CV playing when the Pistons were still 5+ points behind as his 3pt shooting/threat was key there. But once the game was within 3 points, Monroe’s ability to score in the paint, and get to the line, and shoot pretty well there was more important.

        See Drummond’s fading midrange when he was 12 feet away with about a minute left. I’d feel way better with the ball in Monroe’s hands there.

        • Feb 3, 20134:17 pm
          by I HATE FRANK


          yeah I was like NO DRE , NO DRE!!!! Kick it out…

          Im sorry I still havent seen Roy Rogers Coaching be effective with Drummond…

          His offense is still lob pases from Will Bynum, and put back dunks…

          On offensive rebs he still does not go back up stronger enough….

          He never gets the ball in the post…

          Rogers is either doing a poor job developing Dre, or Frank is doing a poor job at using dre…and im not just talking about minutes…there are time when I see Drummond in the post against much smaller players and he is not getting touches…  

    • Feb 3, 20133:53 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      because Bynum was getting to the basket anytime he wanted against the Lakers defense…. Charlie stretch the defense at the top of the Key they had to respect him because he had already hit two 3′s…. Singler and Knight where in the corners… and they ran that high pick and roll play with Bynum and Dre… the lakers had no answer….

      Bynum missed two lay up in the final minute… we could have won this game 

  • Feb 3, 20133:58 pm


    Actually gonna give Frank a nod for his coaching….. the only thing thing I didnt like was not playing Drummond and Monroe more..I felt the lakers real had no answers for anything we were doing…

    The shots that Knight and Kyle missed late in that game are shots that they can normally make… but if the Offense we ran today will be elevated by Calderon then im very excited…

    BTW: I know we lost, but what about that thrown by Knight…. he needs to continue to play explosive…


  • Feb 3, 20134:03 pm


    Knight showed me that he is capable of playing off the ball, by using screens…. thats very encouraging …. 2) Knight showed me that he can defend more than just PG… he really held his own a few times again Kobe, Artest, and Jobie Meeks….even got matched up with Jamison….

  • Feb 3, 20134:16 pm
    by Jayknowsball


    Did anybody else catch that alley Bynum was throwing to Drummond and singler thought it was coming to him ….Drummond like anybody can get somesome 

  • Feb 3, 20134:20 pm
    by Jayknowsball


    Raptors are about to catch us in the standings

  • Feb 3, 20134:34 pm
    by Derek


    Knight got on his grown man and didn’t let Metta Artest punk him!  Disappointed that none of the Pistons got over there to help the kid out.  What’s up Maxiell?

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