Kobe Heating Up at the Right Time
By Brian Martin
Kobe Bryant won his 30th NBA Western Conference Player of the Week honor on Monday, for games played Tuesday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 24. During that time, Bryant averaged 31.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists to lead the Lakers to a 3-0 week coming out of the All-Star break.
The week began with a rather pedestrian effort from Bryant, who finished with 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the field and 0-of-4 from three along with seven assists, in L.A.'s 113-99 win over the Boston Celtics.
It was the efforts of Dwight Howard (24 points, 10-13 FG), Steve Nash (14 points, 6-7 FG, 2-2 3FG) and Antawn Jamison (15 points, 5-7 FG, 1-1 3FG) helped lead the Lakers to victory.
However, the final two games of the week featured exceptional performances by Bryant -- scoring 40 points against Portland at home and following it up with 38 points on the road in Dallas -- as he found the shooting stroke that had abandoned him in the final weeks before All-Star.
Kobe Bryant Last 3 Game Logs
|Date||Opponent||PTS||FG (PCT)||3FG (PCT)||FT (PCT)||EFG||AST||REB|
|2/20||vs. Boston||16||5-15 (.333)||0-4 (.000)||6-7 (.857)||33.3%||7||4|
|2/22||vs. Portland||40||15-23 (.652)||1-3 (.333)||9-9 (1.000)||67.4%||4||7|
|2/24||@ Dallas||38||13-21 (.619)||4-5 (.800)||8-10 (.800)||71.4%||7||12|
Kobe Bryant Stats Throughout Season
|Time Period||PTS (AVG)||FG (PCT)||3FG (PCT)||FT (PCT)||EFG%||TS%||OffRtg||DefRtg||NetRtg|
|Last 2 Games||78 (39.0)||28-44 (.636)||5-7 (.625)||17-19 (.895)||69.3%||74.5%||108.3||101.7||6.6|
|Last 3 Games||94 (31.3)||33-59 (.559)||5-12 (.417)||23-26 (.885)||60.2%||66.7%||114.2||103.7||10.5|
|Prev 10 Games||186 (18.6)||67-156 (.429)||1-23 (.043)||51-57 (.895)||43.3%||51.4%||99.1||109.5||-10.4|
|Full Season||1543 (27.1)||547-1167(.469)||96-291 (.330)||353-416 (.849)||51.0%||57.1%||106.4||104.1||2.3|
The first stat that jumps off the page is Kobe's three-point shooting. In the 10 games prior to the All-Star break, he shot 1-23 (4.3%) from 3-point range. In fact, if you look at the 15 games from Jan. 21 to Feb. 20, Kobe shot 1-34 from 3-point range, which is just 2.9%
Now all shooters go through slumps, so we shouldn't read too much into Kobe going cold for a while. He is a career 33.6% 3-point shooter and even with that horrendous 15-game stretch included he is shooting 33.0% from beyond the arc this season. After hitting five of his last eight (and four of his last five), it looks like the cold spell may be behind him.
While his 3-point shooting percentages have varied throughout the year, one thing that has been constant is his success from the free throw line. Kobe is shooting 84.9% for the season and shooting during the 10 games prior to All-Star (86.7%) is comparable to his shooting in the last three games (88.5%). The major difference between the two periods are his number of attempts. He averaged just 5.7 free throw attempts in the 10 games prior to All-Star, but is up to 8.7 attempts in the three games since, which is above his season average of 7.3 attempts per game.
In addition to breaking out of his 3-point slump, Kobe is also shooting a ridiculous 92.3% from inside the restricted area over the past three games. That trumps his season average of 66.9% by a wide margin. The same goes for shots in the paint, but outside the restricted area, where Kobe is hitting 71.4% over the last three games, compared to a season mark of 44.7%.
|Shooting Area||Last 3 Games||10 Games Before All-Star||Season|
|Restricted Area||12-13 (.923)||29-41 (.707)||196-293 (.669)|
|In the Paint (Non-RA)||5-7 (.714)||14-30 (.467)||89-199 (.447)|
|Mid-Range||11-27 (.407)||23-62 (.371)||166-384 (.432)|
|Left Corner 3||0-0||1-1 (.1000)||9-25 (.360)|
|Right Corner 3||0-0||0-2 (.000)||6-20 (.300)|
|Above the Break 3||5-12 (.417)||0-18 (.000)||79-242 (.326)|
|Backcourt||0-0||0-2 (.000)||0-2 (.000)|
The biggest question moving forward is what will hold true. It's not likely that Kobe will be able to maintain this level of efficiency for the remainder of the season as the Lakers make a playoff push. But it's also not likely that he will regress all the way back to his pre-All-Star struggles, particularly from the 3-point line. What is more likely is that the two will meet in the middle near Kobe's season and career averages.
Will that be enough? With 25 games left to play in the regular season, the Lakers (28-29, .491) are one game below .500 and 2.5 games behind the Houston Rockets (31-27, .534) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The longer Kobe Bryant can stay hot and play at this high level of efficiency, the higher the likelihood of the Lakers scratching their way into the playoff picture.