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Lakers live by the Kobe, lose by the Kobe (and Lou Williams)

Feb 7, 2012, 1:20 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Lakers, Getty Images

Philadelphia keeps answering every question asked of them.

Can they win against the best teams? They beat the Bulls, Hawks and Magic last week… and now you can add the Lakers to the list after a 95-90 76ers win Monday night.

But Philly doesn’t have a superstar, who is going to score late in the game for them? Meet Lou Williams. He comes off the bench with a fearless gunner’s mentality and he is the one guy who can create his own shot (or pass to others) in the crunch. He had 12 points in the final four minutes of this one. He finished with 24 total on 12 shots.

The Lakers are supposed to have a guy like that in Kobe Bryant.

But as it has been much of this season the Lakers lived by Kobe and lost by him.

Kobe came out on mission in this game to pass Shaq on the NBA all-time scoring list, hitting 8-of-early and put up 24 in the first half reaching his goal.

But then the Sixers came with hard doubles on Kobe starting late in the second quarter and that took him out of his rhythm — Kobe went 1-11 on his next dozen. And the Lakers offense struggled. As it has too often this season.

The Lakers do have other guys who can score. Andrew Bynum had 20 points on 13 shots, not to mention 20 rebounds, and he looked every part the All-Star Game starter. When he is aggressive as he was in this game, there are few in the league who can hang with him, and Philly didn’t have any of those guys. Pau Gasol wasn’t as sharp but he is still a very skilled big who had 16 in this game.

But those aren’t the guys who get the ball for the Lakers late in games — they abandon the playbook in favor of Kobe isolations. Check out the juxtaposition of late game shots between these teams. To set the stage, Bynum finished an ally-oop from Kobe and the Lakers were up 7 with 4:30 remaining in the game. Then it changed, first with a pretty rainbow by Jrue Holiday over Bynum.

• The Lakers followed that with a miss, the Sixers pushed it back in transition and Williams runs to the arc, where Derek Fisher sags off him — Andre Iguodala hits him with a pass and Williams drains it.

• Lakers turnover then next Philly possession Williams comes off the pick, Bynum shows out hard and will not leave him, so Williams takes Bynum and Bryant with him all the way to the corner, two quick passes with the Lakers out of position and it’s a Sixers layup.

• Kobe takes a tough contested two with Iguodala in his face, Bynum gets the offensive board, but then in trying to clear out to get the pass back he commits and offensive foul.

• Lou Williams comes off the screen, catch and shoot off a pick at the top of the key. Nothing but net.

• Kobe tries to get to his space on the baseline but Iggy is right there with long arms in his face, Kobe misses.

• Williams is the ball handler, comes off pick and Bynum shows out but doesn’t slide with him, Williams turns the corner and gets a clean look at a three. Nails it.

• Kobe in isolation takes a ridiculously long wing three that misses, but Gasol gets the rebound, so the Lakers reset and iso Kobe on the block, but he misses a contested turnaround.

• The Sixers push it back up, Williams is covered by Fisher in transition and blows around him like he’s an orange traffic cone. Williams then hits the floater over Gasol.

You get the idea.

Williams showed there is someone who can step up for the Sixers late.

The Lakers need diversity in their late-game sets, but this is where the lack of a decent point guard hurts them — Kobe can create his own shot, who can create one or get the ball into Bynum on the block. He also needs to deal better with double teams, that haunted him this game.

But the Lakers execution at the end is predictable. The Sixers, well, now we know it’s going to be Lou Williams, but he’s not that easy to stop.

  1. tcclark - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Iguodala was just as clutch on the defensive end

    • areyesrn - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:35 AM

      I hate Iguodala, but I have to give him his props for this game

      • b7p19 - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:47 AM

        Why would you hate Iggy?

      • baldeagle22 - Feb 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM

        fans in Philly have disliked Iggy for 2 reasons – 1, the contract, and 2, his penchant for taking long, off-balance jump shots….

        Me, I care less about the contract because they have had a long history of bad contracts this past decade and appear to be getting past it with Thorn in place and a refreshing new ownership group. But his jump shot is flat-out ugly.

        If I were Doug Collins, I would coach him feverishly to take no jumper outside 15 feet. It really is that bad, and far from his strength….

      • tcclark - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        He’s been hitting it pretty well this year. The best in his career so far

      • slopmcflop - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:12 PM

        Dude, if you are going to hate a player because they take a lot of ill advised long jumpers that aren’t their strength, you must hate damn near half the league.

      • baldeagle22 - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        Dude, I never hate. I’m telling you what everyone else hates to see from Iggy.

        It’s the truth. I agree with what you say about the rest of the league, but these 76ers aren’t the rest of the league. They can’t afford to give up possessions and take very low percentage shots. They win by playing efficiently and by outworking their opponents.

        Next time you watch a 76ers game, check the rotation on Iguodala’s jump shots. It’s ugly, and it’s not his strength. Never has been. That’s all I am saying.

  2. passerby23 - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    There seem to be weekly stories about what the Lakers need to do i.e. they need to get the ball inside more. They need more ball movement. They need to bring the same intensity on the road. They need to get more contributions from their bench. Let’s face facts: this is not a championship caliber team anymore. This is a plodding, middle-of-the-pack playoff team who is primed for a first round upset. The Lakers showed cracks last year, which have opened up into large holes (especially with no Odom anymore). This is about as good as this team is going to get.

  3. chuckj1234 - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    Colins should be coach of the year if keeps this up.

    • cinnalocks - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Philly has had 25 games and 16 at home….Lets talk about it after they hit the road and get into the thick of it. No disrespect but The Lakers (3-9 on the road) in Philly…. this year….. that is Chicken Soup!

      • jblah - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

        does that really matter if its on the road or at home? This sixers team is a solid basketball team. Which is much better than the sixers have had most of the last decade.

  4. skizzy79 - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:53 AM

    What’s crazy is that Kobe and the Lakers moved the ball around nicely until the Sixers took the lead. Then it’s like Kobe felt like he had to do it all, taking bad shots and all. Weird thing is… those same shots were falling the first half.
    (go Sixers!)

    • skids003 - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      Kobe is an egotistical ball hog. He’s calling the shots, not the coach. He’s going to take his shots, whether he’s hot or not, whether the situation calls for it or not.

      • cinnalocks - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:50 AM

        This is what Kobe has historically done when he feels the rest of the team is not trustworthy. He will continue to feel he is the best man to have the ball until someone PROVES he is not. He has always been egotistical, he has always had to have the ball and as long as they were winning no one complains. He will change his game and the Lakers will aquire some suitable assistance. I may not happen this year. If not it will occur over the off season. The worse they finish, the bigger the moves will be.

  5. lemfax - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    LA? Odom & Artest are bestfriends…

  6. jblah - Feb 7, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    what a game! that was exhilarating. Its been too long since this sixers fan has felt like this about the sixers and i’m sure the 20k+ at Wells Fargo Center would agree! Go Sixers! Go Doug Collins!

  7. tundragator - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Let’s not ignore the 5-14 that Gasol shot. You mention Bynum’s shooting stats but then simply say that “Gasol wasn’t as sharp…”. Kobe definetly shot poorly at the end of the game, but please don’t gloss over Gasol’s stats because they don’t support the thrust of your story.

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:50 PM

      Gasol did not have a good game, but to suggest every game is like that is a mistake as well. There are nights he is the mismatch or has the hot hand.

      • tundragator - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:53 AM

        In his last 9 games, Gasol has shot over 50% only three times…these games are rapidly becoming the norm for Gasol. He’s proven that he can get tired over the course of a season and I think the abbreviated season is doing the same thing to him.

  8. omniusprime - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Another reason why Mike Brown has to be fired, he just can’t coach worth a darn. Brown’s only clue about offense is give it to the superstar. It was just plain stupid to throw away the whole Phil Jackson mindset about how to win championships, his Triangle Offense won the Lakers 5 titles and the Bulls 6. Granted the Triangle is a thinking man’s offense and there are so few players in the NBA who can actually think, or coaches for that matter like Mike. What a pity Brian Shaw wasn’t given a chance to extend the Jackson legacy and give the Lakers a real chance to win another title this season.

    Fire Mike Brown and his clueless crew and bring back Shaw and the old coaching crew if at all possible. Otherwise the only thing Brown can do for the Lakers team and fans is Just Lose Baby!

    • The Baseball Gods - Feb 7, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      This said after a game where Mike Brown wasn’t even the coach.

  9. andyreidisfat - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    I gotta agree I hate iggy as well and still would like to see him traded, but give the guy his props, he truly is the best defender in the nba

    Isn’t it about time the stories involving the sixers should be about the sixers and not the team they just beat

    • drmonkeyarmy - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Agreed on your second point. However, after admitting that Iggy is the best wing defender in the league why would you want to trade him? It is impossible to receive equal compensation back. I know that he has never really improved as a scorer but he does so many valuable things for the Sixers. Personally, I wouldn’t make any real changes to the team mid season. Why screw with the roles they have adapted. Let it ride. From what I have seen, the only team that they can’t beat in a 7 game series is the Heat. No amount of tinkering is going to change that.

      • baldeagle22 - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        totally agreed with dr….

        However, they’ve got to be able to parlay Nocioni’s expiring contract into a tougher, rugged big man. They have no toughness down low, and that weakness will hold them back in the playoffs big time….

      • jblah - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        i agree with you that we should not mess with the rhythm of this team at the moment. However, at the end of the year we need to address getting someone like howard to match up against people like james. right now the strongest guy we have seems to be the rookie allen.

  10. davidly - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    This is another similarity between Bryant and Jordan. It’s just that Jordan (aside from being just a bit better player) had hall of fame Defense that kept them in the games even when he was launching at will.

  11. deshackle - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    With Kobe averaging 1 point per made field goal there’ll be some tough nights for the Lakers.

  12. shockexchange - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    I stand corrected. Kobe is not a “glorified Robert Horry.” “Big Shot Bob” would have hit that shot.

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