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POINTS A PLENTY
Posted by Rob Peterson on January 23, 2006 3:15 p.m. ET
BACK TO THE GAME'S ROOTS: SCORING
Sooooo ... anything going on in the Association
As you may have heard by now a certain No. 8 went for 81 on Sunday, while the Suns and Sonics topped the combined 300-point mark for the first time in more than a decade when Ray Allen nailed a 30-footer to give Seattle a 152-149 double OT win in Phoenix.
-- [Both NBA.com]
Mmm ... points. Defense may win championships, but no one goes out into the driveway at night or shovels a patch of snow on the playground in the dead of winter to practice fighting through a pick or how to rotate after the guy you've double-teamed has just passed the ball.
You go out to shoot (and maybe work on the handle). Why? Since the game's genesis, the object of the game is to put the ball in the hole more than your opponent does.
Scoring is the basketball equivalent of comfort food. Kobe's 81, like Wilt Chamberlain's amazing 100-point effort, will stick to your ribs and stay with you for much long than an well-placed elbow to the same spot.
So, to all you cranky, defensive-minded grumps who bemoan tons of scoring as the antithesis to good hoops, I say, "In! Your! Face!" because Sunday's slate should have thrilled the gunner in us all.
All right, now that my finger wagging is out of the way, let's look at how some people are reacting to Kobe's historic evening.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein is already calling Kobe's 81 superior to Wilt's 100.
Hyperbole? ESPN? I'm shocked.
Stein's argument, and one I was thinking of when I was putting this together last night, is Kobe's 81 was far more efficient that Wilt's. And to score that many points a perimeter player compared to a center like Chamberlain who played with his back to the basket, that's impressive no matter how you break down the digits.
Well, is Kobe's 81 superior to Wilt's 100? If you're the class of folk who appreciates Wilt's raw, round number from that March 2, 1962 day in Hershey, Pa. -- 100 (not the other ones, get your mind out of the gutter) -- then you could go to the Kobe acolytes and easily say: 100 beats 81.
Or, if you're Harvey Pollack, the Sixers Director of Statistical Information, who saw everyone one of Wilt's games in 1961-62 when Chamberlain as a Philadelphia Warrior led the league with 50.4 points per game and was the statistician and reporter for the historic hundred, then you can put a little perspective into it.
"It's certainly a crowning achievement for his career," Pollack said of Bryant's 81. "I would have liked to have been there."
But Pollack, who spoke to us by phone on Monday, did give us some things to chew on about Wilt's night. Considering that the Raptors declined to double Kobe during the barrage, Pollack said Wilt faced multiple defenders all night against the New York Knicks.
"He certainly was [double- and triple-teamed]," Pollack said. "The Knicks fouled the other [Warriors] players so the other guys would have to shoot."
Pollack also noticed Kobe played just more than 41 minutes on Sunday. Wilt went the distance. Kind of.
"When they finally got the ball to him to score 100," Pollack said, "Wilt just stood at midcourt. The Knicks got four more points because it was five against four."
Why do you think that was?
"I think he thought was a magic number," Pollack said, "and 100 was the more significant than 102. He played 48 minutes in the box score, but for the last 48 seconds, he wasn't involved."
And what if Kobe had played all 48 minutes?
"Could you imagine if he had?" Pollack asked.
Vince Carter could, and the mind reels.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]
Speaking of reels, no film exists of Wilt's historic night, giving the milestone a mythical, otherworldly quality.
Still, like Wilt and his 100, Joe DiMaggio's 56 or Hank Aaron's 755, Kobe's number from now on will always be 81.
Unless he breaks it.
The Raptors, meanwhile, were gobsmacked.
-- [Toronto Sun]
"It's going to be talked about viewed, analyzed, overanalyzed for a long time," Jalen Rose said. "Unfortunately, for us we're going to be on the wrong side of the analysis."
As for the rest of internet-literati take on Kobe's night, Marty Burns of SI.com says, "Puh-leez" when comparing Kobe to Wilt. Wilt's still the gold standard.
Meanwhile, Dan Shanoff is drinking from the same water cooler as Marc Stein.
Interesting too is this two-week old Bill Simmons piece.
Basically, Simmons said if you have a chance to grab a piece of history, use both hands. Seems that Kobe got the message.
LIKE OLIVER TWIST, WE ASK FOR MORE
Lost somewhat in Kobe-mania was the stone-cold classic put on by the Suns and Sonics in Phoenix on Sunday.
In case you hadn't heard, Ray Allen smoothly drained a 30-footer to give the Sonics a 152-149 double OT win over the Suns.
And if you want to read a well-written account of the contest, click here.
-- [Seattle P-I]
You can see, excellence begets excellence. Check out what we call in the sports scribin' bidness as a great lede, courtesy of Gary Washburn:
"On the release, the shot felt as tens of thousands have before for Ray Allen. It felt crisp, flawless and rhythmic. When most young ballplayers were fast asleep or playing late-night video games, Allen was shooting shots like this one."
Oh, and the Seahawks won too. Good day to be a Seattle fan.
As for the scoring, more please. I want to gorge on points like I'm at a Roman bacchanal! SI.com's Kelly Dwyer agrees. He puts together a list of all the exceptional games we've seen in "The L" this season.
Gaudy games like this and Kobe's show why hoops reign supreme.
That's me, blowing on my knuckles and then rubbing them on my shirt.
Why? Because I'm gooooooood. In a whiteboard in my cube I wrote these words on Friday, Jan. 20:
"Kobe will score 80 (in one game) in the last week of the season."
You may not believe me, but I wouldn't fib about this (especially with the U.S. government spying on its citizens these days). So, my prediction came true a little early. But I just had a feeling that, after his 62 in December and the criticism he received about removing himself after three quarters in that game (see also, Simmons, above), he would go off in a late-season game for one or two reasons:
1) The scoring title was on the line and he needed to pull a David Thompson/Robinson/George Gervin type of night where scoring and only scoring was the objective, and ...
2) He was feeling it
But mostly number one.
Anyway, I did call it and I stand by it.
I'm off to play the lottery.