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Peter Brown Hoffmeister Headshot

Sorry, Kobe -- I'm Good at Math

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I spent all of Wednesday thinking about this. People around me were making a big (and I mean big) deal out of Kobe scoring 43 points against the Nuggets. They said things like this:

"I can't believe that the Lakers still lost!" and "The other Lakers guards need to step it up," and "The Lakers let Kobe down."

No, actually. Kobe let the Lakers down. I know that's not a popular position, and I know that I'm supposed to freak out because Kobe scored 43 points, but there's this little thing called "mathematics" that makes it impossible for me to bow down, to prostrate myself on the floor before the great throne of The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant.

See, Kobe scored 43 points on 32 shots. And he made 14 shots. So my math looks like this:

32 - 14 = 18.

Kobe missed 18 shots in that game.

George Karl, the coach of the Nuggets, has to be a good sport (and it's easier for him since he won). So, after the game, Karl toed the party line, the popular media line, and said, "Kobe was incredible." But was he?

In a four minute burst, Kobe was incredible. He hit four three-pointers and got the Lakers back in the game when previously they'd been down by 15 points.

But how did the Lakers get down by 15 points? I'll tell you. Kobe kept taking and missing shots. He kept shooting bricks. Kobe bricks. Made out of Kobe Brick Clay. And that's the problem with a shooter. While "Kobe on a Streak" is one of the most lethal snipers in the game, "Kobe Gone Cold" is one of the most dangerous teammates on earth. He can kill his team and buy their caskets.

If you think I'm wrong, look at how the Lakers perform over a series. If Bynum has a huge night, the Lakers are much more likely to win.

Bynum has a 55.8% shooting percentage on the season.

Kobe, on the season, is shooting 43%, the same percentage he shot in his game against the Nuggets (which sounds to me like a math word called "average," as in, Kobe had an average shooting night against the Nuggets but took a lot of shots).

But considering Bynum and Kobe on the season, my math looks like this: 55.8% > 43%

Crazy.

By comparison, last Sunday, Carmelo Anthony scored 41 points in a game against the Heat. He was 15 for 29 in that game, a shooting percentage of 51.7%.

41 < 43 but Carmelo's team won. Now that's strange. It's as if shooting percentage rather than total points is a bigger contributing factor to a team victory.

So let's go back to George Karl's quote: "Kobe was incredible."

If Karl was allowed to be honest, and he probably was very honest behind closed doors, away from a microphone, he would have actually said, "JaVale McGee was incredible."

McGee scored 21 points, shooting 9 for 12. I'm no mathematics Ph.D. at MIT, but I think that 9 divided by 12 might be somewhere in the vicinity of 75%. The problem is that JaVale McGee is no Kobe Bryant. He isn't a household name. So Karl has to talk about Kobe. It's the rule. But I guarantee you that George Karl would take McGee's 75% shooting, for 21 points, over Kobe's average game of 43. Look who won.

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