DALLAS – It’s not like the Mavericks have shut down Kobe Bryant.
The guy is averaging 29.5 points this series, but the Mavs have at least made Kobe score in a one-dimensional manner. He’s been almost solely a jump shooter in this series.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, only seven of Bryant’s 49 field goal attempts this series have been from within 10 feet of the basket. He’s made only two of those, none of them dunks or layups. By comparison, Kobe averaged seven such shots in the first round against the Hornets, making 58.1 percent of those attempts.
As a result, Bryant’s free throws attempts have dropped to five per game this series. He averaged 7.1 during the regular season and 7.7 during the first round. And Kobe, who has a career average of 4.7 assists per game, has only three assists during the series.
Maybe Kobe’s sore ankle has prevented him from attacking the rim. But the Dallas defense deserves some credit.
They'll live with Kobe hitting contested jumpers. He's done that, hitting half of his 42 attempts from further than 10 feet. When Bryant relies that much on his perimeter jumper, the Lakers' offense tends to get stagnant.
“You try to stay in front of him,” said Jason Kidd, who defended Bryant during crunch time in Game 1 and for several stretches during Game 2. “I mean, he has all the moves, all the ability to get to the basket and can shoot the jumper, so you’re giving up something. We’re just trying to make it tough on him and try to keep a body on him when he does shoot the ball.”
Bryant will probably play significant minutes at small forward in Game 3 with Ron Artest suspended. Theoretically, that will put Kobe in better situations to attack the basket, although that wasn’t the case during the fourth quarter in Game 2. The Mavs will scheme to continue keeping that from happening.
“When he’s on the floor, we have a plan for him,” Carlisle said when asked about Bryant as a small forward. “We’re very vigilant about help and keeping fresh guys on him. We know how great he is, but we’re going to have to just keep plugging away.”