Gotta Love Skimming Over This Column After a Game Like This

You gotta love skimming over this column from Feb.13, 2009 after a game like this ... and grinning smugly.

People often say that Kobe Bryant has no weaknesses to his game, but that’s not really true. Before the game, Battier was given his special package of information. "He’s the only player we give it to," Morey says. "We can give him this fire hose of data and let him sift. Most players are like golfers. You don’t want them swinging while they’re thinking." The data essentially broke down the floor into many discrete zones and calculated the odds of Bryant making shots from different places on the court, under different degrees of defensive pressure, in different relationships to other players — how well he scored off screens, off pick-and-rolls, off catch-and-shoots and so on. Battier learns a lot from studying the data on the superstars he is usually assigned to guard.


The reason the Rockets insist that Battier guard Bryant is his gift for encouraging him into his zones of lowest efficiency. The effect of doing this is astonishing: Bryant doesn’t merely help his team less when Battier guards him than when someone else does. When Bryant is in the game and Battier is on him, the Lakers’ offense is worse than if the N.B.A.’s best player had taken the night off. “The Lakers’ offense should obviously be better with Kobe in,” Morey says. “But if Shane is on him, it isn’t.” A player whom Morey describes as “a marginal N.B.A. athlete” not only guards one of the greatest — and smartest — offensive threats ever to play the game. He renders him a detriment to his team.

15-30. 41 points, 11-15 FT, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 win

Savor it ... for now. Because rest assured Kobe will have a bad game someday with Battier guarding him, and we'll have to hear about it all over again, even though it will have less to do with Battier's D and more to do with Kobe simply having an off night.