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Old 04-23-2007, 11:37 PM   #1
kobedaman24
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Default Bell v. Bryant Matchup

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PHOENIX -- It was ignited by the heat of a playoff struggle, cooled in the calm reflection generated by the pages of a hard-cover book and has now hardened into a bond of mutual respect and grudging acceptance.

In last season's opening-round playoff series between the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns, the personal rivalry between Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell deteriorated from spirited to mean-spirited.

It was perhaps inevitable when Bell, a master defender, was assigned the unenviable task of trying to shut down, or, more realistically, slow down Bryant, the game's leading point-producer.

No defender intimidates Bryant. No scorer discourages Bell.

A year ago, Bell was suspended for Game 6 of a series his Suns won in seven for wrapping his left arm around Bryant's neck and throwing him to the floor in Game 5, a move NBA commissioner David Stern labeled "a very unmanly act."

Said Bell of Bryant: "I have no respect for him. I think he's a pompous, arrogant individual . . . I think a lot of people let him get away with things and he feels like he's supposed to get away with them and I don't agree with that. . . . You're going to keep hitting me in my face and then talking like you're not doing it on purpose? There's a reason both my cheeks are bruised right now and I can barely open my jaw."

Responded Bryant: "Does he know me? Do I know this guy? I don't know this guy. I might have said one word to this guy...I think he overreacts to stuff. . . . I don't need to know this kid. I don't want to. We go out there, we play the game and leave it at that. Maybe he wasn't hugged enough as a kid. I look at him a little bit, he gets a little insecure or something."

It was hardly the foundation for a great friendship. But while Bryant and Bell aren't necessarily ready to hug each other, they have approached this season's opening-round matchup with tempered resolve, treating each other as skilled professionals.

Bryant, with Bell as his primary defender, scored 39 points Sunday in Game One. But he had only 11 of those in the second half and was just one for 10 from the floor in the fourth quarter.

"When he has a bad night, I don't claim I stopped him," Bell said. "And when he has a great night, I have to be OK with it."

Said Bryant of Bell: "Obviously it's not a one-on-one game. He has a lot of help on the backside. But still and all, he does an excellent job of just staying body to body and not giving up on plays."

So what changed their relationship from a year ago?

For Bryant, it was a gift from his coach.

"I read a book this summer from Mr. Phil Jackson," said Bryant. "It talked about warriors respecting other warriors. If you have respect for your opponent, you play hard every time down. It gave me a new perspective on things, so I have a tremendous amount of respect for Raja for what he does. I enjoy matching up against him because I know he's going to play hard every possession, which makes it fun for me."

Neither Bryant nor Jackson could recall the title of the book, though both endorsed the message.

As for Bell, he doesn't want to spend a lot of time reflecting on his relationship with his nemesis.

"It is what it is," he said. "I don't try to dig too deep into it. We have a good rapport out there on the court and I'm O.K. with that. I don't need to analyze it any more than that."

Spoken like a true warrior.
I also noticed during the game they showed who's defense was really key against Kobe and Bell gave Kobe the most points.. Marion gave him more of a hard time, especially in the second half.
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Old 04-24-2007, 01:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

It's something I have struggled to understand for the longest time. The only defenders that genuinely give Kobe a tough time are "long" players who aren't too slow to stay in front of him. Every time Marion guards Kobe it really seems to affect him because he has to arch his shot higher to get over Marion's long wingspan. I don't think Bowen or Bell or Ruben really get in Kobe's way. All they can do is make his shot a bit tougher, but a guy like Marion can really take his jumper out of the equation. The only counter to that is Kobe can probably get passed Marion if he tries (and that's where a second defender clogging the lane comes in) to take it to the basket. Which is something I really wish he would do more of. He has such a great shot (and believes he can make it from anywhere in anyway, and at times he can) he relies on it too much sometimes. In close games where we are down 10 points or less (or up by about 5) I think that's a situation Kobe should really just force the drive inside and pick up some fouls. This gets him easy scoring opportunities (free throws), puts the opposing team in the penalty (slows the game down, which is important against Phoenix), and will actually have the effect of giving him more open jumpers and easy baskets (because the opponent will be in foul trouble as a team and individually). Kobe take it to the hole!
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Old 04-24-2007, 01:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

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I don't think Bowen or Bell or Ruben really get in Kobe's way.
Exactly, but Bowen and Bell are the 2 biggest defenders known to fans for playing good D on Kobe, but it sure hasn't seemed that way so far for Bell.
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

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Originally Posted by kobedaman24
Exactly, but Bowen and Bell are the 2 biggest defenders known to fans for playing good D on Kobe, but it sure hasn't seemed that way so far for Bell.
I think thats because Kobe really gets "excited" to play Bell and ups his game. If you watch Bell on him...Bell always plays textbook defense
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

I still see some improvement for Bell's defense.

There are a few times each game where Kobe simply jumps high and Bell doesn't contest that. He needs to read a little better what Kobe's going to do.

he doesn't get that hand in his face. All he does is get so close to Kobe when Kobe posts up, but when kobe's outside, Bell can't do anything alone.
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

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Originally Posted by lakerfreak
I still see some improvement for Bell's defense.

There are a few times each game where Kobe simply jumps high and Bell doesn't contest that. He needs to read a little better what Kobe's going to do.

he doesn't get that hand in his face. All he does is get so close to Kobe when Kobe posts up, but when kobe's outside, Bell can't do anything alone.

Ok I agree on that. I noticed it too but he just doesnt have the length to do that really, and when he did he got called for a foul it seemed like.

Thats the one negative thing about his defense..He might be looking to strip the ball too much as Kobe goes up for his shot.
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

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Originally Posted by kobedaman24
Exactly, but Bowen and Bell are the 2 biggest defenders known to fans for playing good D on Kobe, but it sure hasn't seemed that way so far for Bell.
Actually, I'd say Tayshaun does the best job on Kobe by far, his length just bothers Kobe too much. But he does get a lot of help from teammates. Bowen isn't what he used to be, Kobe plays extremely well against him.
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Old 04-24-2007, 08:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

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Originally Posted by LakersDynasty
Actually, I'd say Tayshaun does the best job on Kobe by far, his length just bothers Kobe too much. But he does get a lot of help from teammates. Bowen isn't what he used to be, Kobe plays extremely well against him.

I would agree that his length and quickness, as well as supporting team defense makes it harder on Kobe than with other teams.


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Old 04-24-2007, 01:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

I think bell has done pretty well against kobe. He plays hard and never really allows kobe to take easy shots. He was scoring at will in the 1st half but bell was playing good D. Kobe was making some difficult shots just becasue he is kobe but he was taking a lot of the same shots in the 2nd and they were not falling.
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Old 04-24-2007, 01:36 PM   #10
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Default Re: Bell v. Bryant Matchup

I've seen Bell from courtside seats a number of times. His D is over-rated. By that I mean he plays very good D, but he is not All-NBA by any stretch.

Suns defensive scheme on Kobe is very good...and exactly what I was talking about all year:
Let Kobe do his thing (don't double) during the first 3 quarters. He will get his points, but in so doing his teammates will be less involved, less in-rythm. Then, in the 4th, start doubling/trapping Kobe, forcing him to pass to teammates who have not been deep in-the-flow all game. Since no teammate is a true scorer...

Lakers only hope is that someone steps up with decent sized balls and/or Kobe/PJax purposely subordinate Kobe's scoring during the 1st 3 quarters to get all others in the flow...get them some confidence (i.e. don't fall for the Suns scheme).
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