by Craig Kwasniewski
The annual Kobe-VC matchup never materialized as the Lakers turn a close halftime score into a 120-93 rout. Here's a few observations from my seat in section 316:
Devin Harris was held in check most of the night. Devin Harris has been torching everyone (except that English guy), where was he most of the night? Outside of a great second quarter, the Harris was a non-factor. New Jersey stayed close with the Lakers in the second quarter running that spread offense that NOLA and the Spurs run (3 perimeter players with a big setting a screen at the top of the key). Harris finally got rolling, running layup drills through the Lakers porous defense as the lanes opened up. You'd think the Nets would stick with Harris the rest of the night, but...
Bad coaching killed the Nets. So as I mentioned, the Nets stayed close with Harris doing layup drills in the 2nd. But instead of sticking with what was working, the Nets ran their offense through Yi Jianlian... and proceeded to get rolled, getting outscored by 12 in the third. Way to out think the best team in the Western Conference by going away from what was working! Did the Chinese Premier call in the plays a la Al Davis? Does he have a sweet all red sweat suit? Just lose by 27 baby!
Speaking of Yi Jianlian... I just don't get him. Remember that video of Obama playing ball with UNC? All he did was run up and down the floor and occasionally cycle the pass around the perimeter. THAT is Yi's game in a nutshell! All he does is run up and down the floor. So it was no surprise that New Jersey got killed as soon as they ran the offense through him. But I guess he sprints a mean 94-feet... oh an he's long. Enjoy the Yi era New Jersey!
Are the Lakers soft? That seems to be the feeling from Rick Fox at halftime. It's hard to tell especially with such a soft schedule. True, they don't have that killer instinct that the C's showed all last season. True, they haven't played a full 48-minute game. And true, Detroit (and especially Kwame Brown???) kicked their ass at Staples Center, but it's still too early in the season to label a 12-1 team soft. Let's see how December goes and how they face Boston on Christmas Day. But they can take solace in the fact that the 90's Bulls weren't physically tough, just VERY talented, which is what the Lakers are.
The end of Kobe vs. VC? Lastly... Every time Vince Carter rolls out to LA Kobe brings a playoff intensity on defense which pisses off Carter because it's November and he wants to coast. The end result, Carter wakes up and a good battle ensues. Not tonight, Kobe laid low for the first half and found just enough offense in the third to easily close out New Jersey. Maybe this marks the end of those Kobe vs. VC battles.