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List of Articles by Nicholai R. Roska



Kobe rising; Lakers fading

By Nicholai R. Roska
PhilBoxing.com
04 Feb 2012



LOS ANGELES -- Even at age 32, with 15 years of NBA wars under his belt and a bum wrist, Kobe Bryant is as brilliant as he's ever been.

The 11-time All-Star is averaging 30 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game in this lockout-shortened season. In 22 games thus far, he is shooting 45.5 percent from the field, 84.1 percent from the free throw stripe and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

But the 5-time champion's shine hasn't translated into team success. As of Friday night, the once-mighty Los Angeles Lakers own a mediocre 13-9 won-lost slate, a paltry sixth seed in the Western Conference's overall standings.

Shocking as it may be to the purple-and-gold faithful, the Lakers' drop from elite status to mere mortal really isn't a surprise. After all, this is a team which lost head coach Phil Jackson to retirement and power forward Lamar Odom to a one-sided trade last December.

Without the Zen Master and Odom, inarguably one of the most versatile big men the league has ever seen, the Lakers don't look like the same team who won the NBA title in 2009 and 2010.

So, what ails these Lakers?

Too many to mention, but here's a few vital ones.

Kobe needs help. Like years past, when championships hadn't come along yet, Kobe is a one-man army trying to save the world. So far this season, Kobe has shot a total of 534 field goals, or 244 more than 7-foot center Pau Gasol, who comes in at a distant second with 290 shots.

With Kobe dominating the rock, the offense often stagnates with other Lakers just milling around looking for crumbs.

Obviously, isolating the 6-foot-6, 205-pound star all the time and giving him the license to shoot isn't going to work. In contrast, look and marvel at the West-leading Oklahoma City Thunder, who have three legitimate scorers in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Oh, those kids pass the ball around merrily.

Another glaring Lakers weakness lies in the point guard position, where Derek Fisher still holds fort.

Don't get me wrong, I like Fish, but he's no longer getting it done. In 22 games this season, Fisher is averaging a pedestrain 5.3 points and 4.1 assists per in 26.1 minutes of play. Derek is making just 36.7 percent of his shots and his back-up, Steve Blake, isn't much help with 7.3 points and 2.8 assists per.

The list of Lakers woes could go on and on and on. But you get the point. (NRR)


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