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Kobe dismissive of Lakers’ very real free throw issues

Nov 28, 2012, 1:05 PM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

It was another dreadful performance from the seemingly all-or-nothing Lakers on Tuesday, one where the team managed just 77 points in a loss to the Pacers.

There were 20 more points available to L.A. at the free throw line, but as has been the case all season long, the Lakers simply could not convert on those opportunities.

As a team, the Lakers were 23-of-43 from the line against Indiana, good for 53.5 percent — a mark that’s far worse than even the team’s free throw shooting average of 66.8 percent, which ranks 29th among the league’s 30 teams.

Kobe Bryant is not one to lament such things, despite how legitimate a role the team’s free throw woes have payed in its sub-.500 record on the season. After Tuesday’s loss, he focused instead on his 10 turnovers as one of the main factors in the Lakers struggles, while dismissing the free throw issue altogether.

From Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times:

“It was a tough game for us,” said Bryant.  “I’ve got to minimize my mistakes.  Ten turnovers are way too many for me, so I have to work on perfecting that and bringing that down.”

The Lakers had 21 turnovers as a team, nearly half from Bryant, who played almost 44 minutes.

“It boggles my mind that I had 10 turnovers,” said Bryant.  “My responsibility is to pick everybody up.  It doesn’t matter if we miss 20 free throws, we still could have won the game.  The fact is we had 10 possessions where we couldn’t get looks at the basket because I turned it over.”

Actually, it does matter.

The Lakers lead the league in free throw attempts at 31.7 per game, almost four more than the team in second in that category, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The big difference, of course, is that the Thunder lead the league in making free throws at a clip of almost 85 percent.

OKC also has a winning record of 11-4. It’s not a coincidence.

The Lakers only have one historically bad free throw shooter in Dwight Howard, and finishing at the bottom of the league in that category while winning a championship certainly is possible. All four of Shaquille O’Neal’s title teams — Miami in 2006, and the Lakers squads of 2000, 2001, and 2002 — were all last or second to last in free throw percentage.

But this year’s Lakers team isn’t cruising at the top of the standings while leaving points at the free throw line without consequence. Sitting at just 7-8 and currently outside of the playoff picture, they can’t afford to be this bad.

Bryant was right to take responsibility for his part in the turnover issues on Tuesday. But far more emphasis needs to placed on the team’s free throw troubles in order to see a real change there, and it would help if the Lakers best player was the one leading that charge.

  1. skids003 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Their work ethic stinks, and practicing free throws is monotonous, but you have to work at it. It’s easier to practice your dunks.

  2. dko83 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Probably not going to feel too good to have to sit your all-world center in crunch time of close games…. I can see Pop’s eyes getting huge and thinking, they’re leaving Dwight in? QUICK, HIT HIM, ANYBODY!!!!!

  3. tsi431 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    No post about how great the Lakers D was this game. 79 points given up by D’Antoni coached team.

    • somekat - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      maybe because the pacers only average 90 pts a game anyway? They are 28th in fg% and 29th in pts. Not exactly a juggernaut they held down

      • Distinguished Male - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:23 PM

        Exactly. Saw some pretty porous defense at times, but the Pacers just couldn’t consistently hit the open shot.

        Let’s not kid ourselves here, this game was probably the ugliest game of the season to date. Neither team deserved to win, but someone had to.

  4. magicbucs - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    The magic played better with dwight as their center for 7 seasons. Hmmm maybe it’s a team effort at flirting on being a .500 team.
    If you blame the coach maybe you should of kept bernie as coach lol or hired Stan van Gundy, he had .640 win % with Dwight at center…. Dwight and Stan work together with the seminole county school system in central Florida. Too bad they can’t get along on the court.

    Oh wait…I could care less about the lakers.
    Looks like Rob henni looks like a genius right about now lol

    • bozosforall - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:06 PM

      You could care less? What a moron you are, magic bung.

  5. chargerdillon - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    I’ve never been so disgusted with a free throw performance in what i saw last night. Dwight is garbage, he’s the most overrated talent in all of the NBA.

    Not half the offensive player of Shaq, not half the defensive player of Shaq, worst free throw shooter than Shaq.

    Every bit of criticism i used to think less of Shaq for I now take all back. Dwight has a cancer mentality, no real drive to want to win a game on his own like any good superstar.

    Best thing that could happen to the Lakers would be him leaving for NJ next year.

    • sdlakerfan - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      Agree it was a disgusting free throw performance. Also agree Dwight doesn’t seem to have an intense game face attitude at all. Still smiling while blowing the game. Shaq did seem to sense the moment and have that extra gear when he needed it. Even made some clutch free throws sometimes.

      With that said, I think Dwight is a better defensive player than Shaq but will never match Shaq on the offensive end. Shaq was the most dominant physical force the game has seen IMO. Also think Dwight is definitely worth keeping. Pau is the one bugging me the most right now. Shot after shot was rejected last night including a 4 on 1 fast break where his layup was shoved down his throat.

      Without Kobe, Lakers would have been laughingstock last night and fans would have booed them off the court. Wondering if Bickerstaff wasn’t a better choice than Dantoni right now. Seems like a terrible mess that shouldn’t be happening with a team that has this much talent. Hard to root for a team that just blows it and doesn’t live up to their potential at all.

  6. iamjimmyjack - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Honestly I’ve been a laker fan my entire life and this is the first quote attributed to Kobe Bryant in which he takes full responsibility for a loss. Seriously.

    • lakerfan4life - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:34 PM

      That’s because he know that the Laker fans can read between the lines. Everyone can see that if Kobe hadn’t played last night, the Lakers would have been blown out. He SHOULD have sat out, seeing as how he was still recovering from the flu. And what is the deal with D’Antoni making Kobe play 44 minutes, this early in the season, AND recovering from a bout with the flu?!? That’s incredible!!

      The reporters and fans aren’t dummies. We can see exactly what’s going on. No need for Kobe to go off and diss the organization right now. He’s just towing the company line… for now.

  7. lakerluver - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Isn’t cruising at the top of standings,YET, sir.

  8. misterdreamer119 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Pau and howard are bad freethrow shooters and it aint gonna change after all these years.

    • manchestermiracle - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      Gasol is a career 75% free throw shooter.

  9. paulhargis53 - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    lakerluver: Keep hoping against hope doofus. I can’t wait to be proven right and you’re dumb a** is gone.

    7-8 record, too funny. Only 75 games tops and you’re gone.

    • lakerdownunder - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:02 PM

      See there you go. You just can’t help yourself…typical bully. You don’t comment on anyone else so don’t pretend this is about basketball or his specific comments.

      • bozosforall - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:11 PM

        More like “typical bullysh*t”. Pudhummer53 is the biggest loser here and will always be a loser…no matter how much his mommy tells him otherwise.

  10. eugenesaxe - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    I have never played organized hoops, at any level. I have never received any sort of coaching.
    Out of sheer boredom one night while still in high school, I made 70/100 FT. There is absolutely no reason anyone getting paid to play ball should be shooting worse than that.

  11. borderline1988 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    I’m not a Laker fan, but I think the team will be fine after Nash returns. The defense will improve as Howard gets healthier and more used to the Lakers. Howard himself should turn any team into a top-10 defensive club, and it’s not like Kobe, MWP and Gasol are terrible defenders.

    This team needs direction, and it desperately needs a proper PG to get Gasol involved on offense. It also desperately needs consistent outside shooting. Nash is that guy.
    They just need to start running multiple pick and rolls with Howard and with Gasol. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be unstoppable. And Howard’s FT% will get to the mid60s eventually.

    The trouble with this team is its lack of bench combined with age and injury risk. So they better pray that everything goes right come playoff time.
    But they will get much better before then.

  12. paulwoodsby - Nov 29, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    43 free throw attempts? Sounds like the refs did their part in getting a laker win, but the players didn’t do theirs.

  13. omniusprime - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Kobe is right to take the blame for so many turnovers but is wrong to dismiss the bad free throwing. It’s the little details like free throws that win or lose ball games. The Lakers need to improve their free throwing, especially Howard. It’s nice to see Kobe take responsibility for when he plays poorly, but in doing so he’s denying a certain problem that will certainly bite the Lakers game after game into the playoffs if not corrected.

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