Updated: Dec. 22, 2005, 9:19 AM ET

The quarter left on the table

Was Kobe Bryant wise to call it quits with 12 minutes to go on Tuesday night, giving up a shot at a prominent place in single-game scoring history?

Four former NBA players, Will Perdue, Tim Legler, Greg Anthony and Bill Walton, along with former NBA coaches Jim O'Brien and John Carroll, weighed the merits of the decision to sit while fans chanted for a remarkable 62-point night to roll on.


There's no doubt that Kobe Bryant could have probably gotten 75 or 77 points on Tuesday night. But the Lakers had the game well in hand and I'm not a big fan of a guy trying for records in a game that's already been decided. If the Lakers needed Kobe's scoring to win the game, by all means keep him in there, but not in this case. I would prefer to see him go for big numbers in a close game.

I can see people wanting Kobe to go for it, but if I'm the opposing coach I want to make sure he's not going to do that. If I'm Avery Johnson, I'm putting all five guys on Kobe, just to make sure he's not going off against my team, because it shows up in the record books.

The reality of the situation is that Kobe was in a no-win situation. He was badmouthed because he took himself out. If he had stayed in, he would have been criticized, too. It's a tough situation for him. He's very conscious of what people are saying about him and I think sometimes that affects his judgment.


Phil Jackson made the right decision by not re-inserting Kobe Bryant into the game.

However, I would have handled it a little differently. I would have allowed him to start the fourth and play for 5-6 minutes before making a decision. If he cooled off then it would be an easy decision to take him out and allow him to a bask in the adulation of the Lakers' fans. If he scored another quick 10-12 points, then no one would argue with allowing him to go for 80 points.

There is always a fine line when it comes to record-breaking and individual accomplishments. I almost always fall on the side of allowing records to be broken in the natural flow of the game. The Los Angeles Lakers are attempting to restore their franchise to a championship caliber. Jackson was prudent in keeping his eyes on the bigger prize.

After all, with a 30-point lead, and playing against a team that the Lakers may very well have to contend with in the postseason, there was no need to turn the game into a sideshow for Bryant's individual scoring spree.


If you want to blame someone for Kobe coming out of the game, blame Dallas. Because if the Mavericks had kept it closer, it would have been reasonable for Kobe to stay in and continue his huge night. Dallas is a team with title hopes, but you couldn't tell that from the way they played against the Lakers.

So Kobe had to come out. The game was over. You don't want to risk injury, and you don't want to throw it in face of your opponent. There was already enough tension out there with Dirk Nowitzki getting hit hard and coach Avery Johnson ejected. You were starting to see some hard fouls out there, and you don't want to add to that by turning the game into strictly a point-scoring quest.

The cons easily outweigh the pros of keeping him in. The Lakers have to think ahead, not antagonize the Mavs should they face them in the playoffs.

For me, this game demonstrates his greatness. He has been criticized for exactly what makes him great. He gave us reasons to appreciate him even more Tuesday night.


There really is nothing to say other than the fact that Jackson offered Bryant the opportunity to go back in the game and he declined the offer.

I believe that was a very classy thing for Bryant to decide. The game is in the bag and there is never a reason to rub another team's nose in the dirt. If he reentered the game and got hurt, how could you ever justify why he went into the game up by over 30 points. It would have fallen on Kobe's shoulders more than Jackson's, and an absolutely spectacular performance would have turned into a negative.

Now class was appropriately added to greatness. Which is a very nice combination.


I think it was a good move for Phil not to play Kobe.

I love the fact that it's happening now for the Lakers, that is, the team concept. In the beginning of the year, Kobe was on track to attempt the most shots ever. Kobe is learning that it is ultimately about the team. The team is playing a much more aesthetically pleasing game now. The encouragement, the teammwork -- because of all of this, Kobe is becoming a more likeable player.

While people can respect the individual abilities of someone playing for themselves, this is a team game and the most popular players in history are the ones who play for others. The list is a long one. For the Lakers to acheive any level of success, they are going to have to listen to the words of their coach. I think the best coaching right now is being done by Phil Jackson.


Taking Kobe Bryant out in the fourth quarter was a no-brainer in my book. Kobe Bryant goes down and the Lakers might as well return their season ticket holders' money. If the game had been closer, let's say the Lakers were only up by 15 points or less, then Phil Jackson would have either kept Kobe in or reinserted him at some point in the fourth quarter.

Coaches have a greater responsibility to the game of basketball and to their teams than to bettors, fantasy league gurus and statisticians. If a player is two points, or a rebound, away from a record then I can understand the concept of giving him a chance to break it. But to leave someone in the fourth quarter up 34 points just to see "how many he can get" borders on insanity.

But in the sporting world we live in today it doesn't surprise me that some people are more interested in the moment than the big picture.

Talk back to the Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: December 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17-18 | 19 | 20 | 21

Bringing It Home For The Holidays
Vince Carter swoops in for two of his 32 points in a 96-85 Nets' win over the Magic. New Jersey (13-12) has now won four straight heading into Friday's game in Miami.

Hey Shaq, Stop That 'Shouldering'

Dr. James Naismith drew up basketball's rules back in 1891. Now his hand-written 13 hoop laws, most of which are outdated in some way, are up for auction. Asking price, a cool $10 million, according to the Kansas City Star.

Before you bid, check out rule No. 5:

"No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping or striking, in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed."

So, as originally drawn up, flagrant fouls meant you played short-handed, like hockey and soccer. Idea: Commish Stern, bring back rule No. 5. It would be cool to watch a team down, say, two players trying to hang onto a giant lead.

We've got throwback uniforms. How about throwback rules?

-- Andrew Ayres

First To 20 Wins

With the Spurs' win on Wednesday, both the San Antonio andthe Detroit Pistons now have 20 wins.

Since 1970, the first team in the Eastern and Western Conference to reach 20 wins have met in the NBA Finals eight times.

The last occurrence came in the 2000 NBA Finals. The Lakers won in 6 games over the Pacers.

-- ESPN Research

Look To The Road For Answer
Allen Iverson loomed large again, scoring 38 points for the Sixers in beating the Warriors. His Atlantic Division leaders, now 14-12, start a seven-game road trip on Friday in Atlanta.

Extreme Behavior

Wednesday's Best
Allen Iverson, Sixers guard: The new and improved Answer sinks 16-28 FG attempts en route to 38 points and a 111-100 win over the visiting Warriors. Threw in eight assists, six boards and three steals. Not quite Kobe's outburst, but not too shabby.


Wednesday's Worst
Desmond Mason, Hornets swingman: Des spent 24 minutes on the (Off) Target Center court, sinking but 1-9 shots. Explains some why NOK scored only 69 as a team in the 88-69 loss to Minny.


Quote of the Night
"It was great to come out angry enough to try to put last night out of their heads. We played well most of the night, but a lot of the fuel for that came from last night."
-- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, after his team beat the Knicks. On Tuesday, they lost in OT to the Bucks.

See how all 182 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres

Gotham Awful

Pat, Bronx: Do you see Isiah Thomas making any moves for the Knicks? Or will we be stuck with the current circus?

Bill Walton: It's very sad what has happened with the Knicks. In the four years that ESPN and ABC have had the Knicks, the Knicks have never had a winning team. The only people who could possibly derive joy from the Knicks being so horrible are the diehard Celtic fans. It's sad for all of basketball. This is a business and the importance of New York City to this business is immeasurable

See Bill Walton's chat Insider

Elias Says

The Celtics defeated the Jazz, becoming the last NBA team to win two consecutive games this season. It's the furthest that Boston has gone into any season before registering a two-game winning streak. In NBA history, only two teams have gone through an entire season without winning two in a row: the 1986-87 Clippers and the 2004-05 Hawks.

Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias Insider

Hog Call Less Accurate Now

Kobe Bryant was on pace to become the ball-hoggin'est player in history in November, with a Usage Rate Multiple that put even Michael Jordan's to shame. But once Turkey Day passed, Bryant started passing too. He sharply cut his shot attempts, upped the assists, and posted a Usage Rate in the range of his previous two seasons. That's still plenty high, but he's no longer forcing teammates to pry the ball from his hands to get touches.

More from John Hollinger's story Insider

NBA Intelligence Report

Boos Reign Down On Steph
The Garden finally turned its venom on Stephon Marbury late in the third quarter last night. The fans had booed the Knicks plenty this season, but only collectively. That is, until last night's latest Knick nightmare, punctuated by Marbury getting hammered by boos as the Coney Island product walked all alone to the bench with 3:13 left in the third quarter. 'That's New York,' Marbury said of the boos after getting schooled by Tony Parker. 'A lot of people look at it as you're making a lot of money, and don't think that's fair. I'm going out and doing what's asked of me. Everyone has to take the blame collectively.'" -- New York Post

Bryant Could Have Grooved To 80
The "what-ifs" blew across the Southland like the Santa Ana winds Wednesday. As in, 'What if Kobe Bryant actually played the entire game against the Dallas Mavericks?' Bryant scored a career-high 62 points Tuesday night against visiting Dallas despite playing only three quarters in a 112-90 blowout victory. Bryant originally balked at speculating on how many points he might have totaled had he played the fourth quarter, then threw out a figure that has been surpassed only once in NBA history, a historic 100-point effort by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. 'Probably 80,' Bryant said. 'I was in a really, really good groove.''' -- Los Angeles Times

Kirilenko To Visit Back Specialist
"Andrei Kirilenko wasn't doing the Jazz any good on the East Coast. He couldn't play, he couldn't practice, he couldn't even sleep. So the Jazz sent their Russian forward to Los Angeles on Wednesday to see specialists about his bad back. 'He needed to go get that taken care of,' said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. The Jazz won't reveal the extent of Kirilenko's injury, but it's safe to assume it has turned out to be far more serious than expected." -- Salt Lake Tribune

Felton's Productivity Rises As Starter
"Should anyone be surprised Raymond Felton thrives as a starter? That's really all he knows. He was a dominant player, growing up in Latta, S.C., and became the starter at North Carolina virtually the minute he stepped on campus. So naturally he'd be more comfortable with the steady minutes that come with starting. His productivity skyrocketed in three starts, and the Bobcats are 3-0 in those games. So at least until Kareem Rush returns from a badly sprained left index finger, the Bobcats figure to keep pairing point guards Felton and Brevin Knight as the starting backcourt." -- Charlotte Observer

Read the entire Intelligence Report Insider


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