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Tuesday night NBA Grades: Kobe plays pretty well, Suns’ backcourt plays better

Dec 11, 2013, 2:51 AM EDT

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Here is our nightly look at some of the noteworthy things around the NBA, the things you missed while freaking out that there are now cockroaches which can survive a freezing winter just fine

source:  Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers. He looked better. Kobe was more fluid and in part because (as he noted after the game) he got the ball in spots he was more comfortable such as the post and around the elbow. He said he wasn’t as comfortable getting the ball out top and creating there like he once did. He finished with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting plus had just three turnovers. Also, Kobe was an effective screen setter. What he didn’t do well was defend — the Suns backcourt owned the Lakers and Kobe doesn’t have the mobility to stop much of anyone in the open court right now.

source:   Gorin Dragic & Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns. Their quickness, transition play and penetration were the reasons the Suns beat the Lakers Tuesday night. Dragic and Bledsoe combined for 49 points, 14 assists and just four turnovers. Dragic had 31 points and 10 of those came in the first quarter when the Suns jumped out to an early lead that had the Lakers trying to play catch up all night. Bledsoe played strong defense also all night, especially at the start of the second half when a 7-0 run caught the Lakers off balance.

source:   Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers. That is the Kyrie Irving we’ve been hoping to see all season — 37 points on 23 shots, plus 11 assists. He played some solid defense as well. The real key was he pushed the pace on the slow-footed Knicks, which led to chances for him and teammates in transition. He was attacking, burning people with cross overs, getting to the paint. We’ll see if this game can shake Irving out of his slump to start the season.

source:  The New York Knicks’ defense. They have struggled all season with quick guards and the Cavaliers have one in that guy with the “A” just above this note. The Knicks let the Cavaliers shoot 56 percent overall and rack up an offensive rating of 121 points per 100 possessions on the night. Cleveland got 39 percent of their shots inside 8 feet of the rim and hit 69 percent of them. Cleveland hit 9-of-19 from three. Coach Mike Woodson is supposed to be the defensive specialist coach and losses like this must make his seat very warm.

  1. antistratfordian - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:10 AM

    The Lakers needed to keep D12 around, or someone like Bynum, to help mask their deficiencies in perimeter defense. This is the same old story for the Lakers though – now going on something like 4 years. Jerry West was talking about the Lakers old, slow legs years ago and it’s still an issue, and it will be an issue again next year.

    • spursareold - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      They don’t develop or keep young talent around. Case in point: Trevor Ariza. He plays a key role on the title team, wants MLE money, and they send him on his way in order to pay an obviously declining Ron Artest the same money, and then they ultimately amnesty Artest. Meanwhile, the now 28 YO Ariza is killing it as the prototypical 3 and D guy, two skills the Lakers desperately need.

      • asimonetti88 - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        Yeah, that move definitely hurt them when they won the championship the next year.

    • ranfan12 - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      Lakers knew what they needed to do. But howard obviously wanted out lol. It’s not as if they weren’t going to sign him for good money, even if it meant putting their franchise at risk.

      • antistratfordian - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:34 PM

        No, the Lakers didn’t know what they needed to do. They only knew that they wanted to keep Howard – they didn’t know HOW to keep Howard. He would’ve stayed if they didn’t make all the wrong moves. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too.

  2. bucrightoff - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Kobe was a declining defensive player even before the injury, so it should hardly be surprising he’s going to be a liability until he gets fully healthy, at which point he becomes an issue instead of a liability.

    I will always think they made a mistake not amnestying him. Sports is a vicious business, and if the Lakers were looking at things objectively in terms of long-term best interest, amnestying him would have been a no brainer. But money, as always, rules the world.

    • musician0785 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      Let’s see what Miami gives wade then…..

      • mickdamill - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        That is a moot point as the success of the Heat does not solely rely on D Wade. Also I dont see Wade shooting for the stars with his new contract.

      • musician0785 - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:50 PM

        yes it does, look at the finals games, when Dwade scored over 20 they were 6-1

      • musician0785 - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        thats not what Lebron thinks

  3. unxpexted1 - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    The way of the NBA is turning more and more into athletic point guards, and the lakers just refuse to get athleticism at that position. Obviously Kobe is no defensive stopper, but you have to give him some perimeter help. Expecting Kobe to be your best perimeter defender is just not even fair.

    • mickdamill - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:02 PM

      For $30 million dollar he better be the best player on the floor on both sides. If he doesnt have the ability anymore, which he doesn’t, he needs to accept less money to give the team help. Lack of Class IMO.

  4. davidly - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Ricky Martin, Menudo Timberwolves
    . With 58 astounding minutes and a +38 on a night when the team only won by 27, he played like two guys–as he has almost all year. Count it, 10-18 from the field and a perfect 9-9 from the stripe for 33 points, he logged ten assists to one measly turnover to go along with his six steals.

  5. chiefspenssuns - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    When are people going to start taking the Suns seriously as a real team? They were projected by “experts” on here that they would have 12 wins the whole season, they have 12 and not even 1/3 way through the season. I think they deserve a little more praise than they’re getting.

  6. chiefspenssuns - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Why are the suns not being talked about as being legitimate yet?

    • Kurt Helin - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      Legitimate what? They are far better than expected but in the West they may well still not make the playoffs.

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