Interesting article on the “Battier effect” on Kobe.
NBA FanHouse: Battier was the defender on 27 of Kobe’s 31 shooting possessions. Artest covered five (three of which coming when Battier was on the bench getting stitches or a rest), and the other possession came against Brent Barry on a secondary break. (By the way, Brent Barry held Kobe to 0-1 shooting! Brent Barry!)
In those 27 Kobe vs. Battier shooting possessions, two ended with trips to the line. Both of these came in the final two minutes, as Kobe decided to start attacking the basket.
Bryant had only one prior FTA, on an “and-1″ against Artest. For perspective, on the regular season Kobe drew 0.33 FTAs for every FGA. But in all those Battier-defended possessions in Game 1, Kobe drew just four FTAs on 25 FGAs — 0.16 FTA/FGA.
That’s because the lion’s share of Kobe’s shots came on jumpers (25 of 31 shots). Of those 25 FGAs against Battier, 21 were at least mid-range jump shots. Of the 21 jumpers, 14 were long twos (the least efficient in basketball at the league-level). Obviously, you don’t draw many fouls on jumpers, let alone pull-up jumpers (which Kobe often went to).
Given Kobe’s aforementioned talent and focus, I find it hard to believe he simply didn’t want to drive. Kobe’s eye is on the prize. He knows what he needs to do to get L.A. another championship. He knows he’s at his best getting to the rim, especially against a long, agile, but not quick, Battier. Kobe knows all this … and took 25 jump shots. I think Battier gets credit for this one.