Kevin Arnovitz breaks down Portland's D on Kobe Bryant

UPDATE: Below is an addendum from Kevin Arnovitz upon learning -after editing the video- the Lakers' final possession did in fact proceed as planned:

Like the conclusion of Blade Runner, I'm afraid that the video above falls apart a bit in the final act.

After hearing the Lakers principals address the last play of the game, and after another examination of the video, the play appears to be drawn up for Pau Gasol to receive the ball at the top of the arc for the game-tying 3-point attempt. Bryant, himself, moves from the top of the floor to set the down screen for Gasol.

I do think there's visual evidence that after Bryant sets that screen, he tries to pop out to the perimeter. But Batum situates himself between Bryant and the sideline, eliminating any possibility that Kobe will touch the ball in the 3.1 seconds remaining.

All this prompts the question: Do the Lakers design the play for Gasol because they've been having so much trouble freeing up Bryant? How much does Bryant's health factor into the play-calling?

In any event, this is why basketball games aren't played inside computers or editing suites.


Before Sunday's game with the Blazers, I noted the defensive acumen of the men Nate McMillan would assign to Kobe Bryant. Martell Webster and Nicolas Batum are long, determined, athletic defenders who have given 24 problems in the past. (I'm a huge fan of Batum in particular, one of my favorite young players in the NBA.)

Given the results of the game generally (Blazers 91, Lakers 88) and for Bryant individually (20 points on 23 field goals, no free throws until late in the fourth quarter), it's fair to say Webster and Batum were effective, both on the ball and particularly in ball denial. The effect of the latter, Phil Jackson said after the game, was to disrupt the whole offense in ways going beyond Kobe's personal ineffectiveness.

"I was really unhappy with our weakside game," he said. "It didn't even matter if it was Kobe or whoever else, but (Portland) really kept the ball on one side of the floor very well."

For more on the work of Webster and Batum and how it helped determine Sunday's result, we again turn to TrueHoop's Kevin Arnovitz, who (as he's done here and here) kicks in with a fantastic video breakdown of the yesterday's events:

As always, our thanks to Kevin for putting this together.