The assistant coach says:
"Absolutely, Kobe's shooting too much. When we played them, we told our guys, 'Look, we don't necessarily want Kobe going for 50. I mean, we're going to guard him. But we're not going to double him, and we're not going to try to get the ball out of his hands.' Our main concerns were not to let [Antawn] Jamison hit a bunch of 3s and not to let Dwight [Howard] go crazy down low. There's no question they would be a better team if Kobe shot less. Why do you think [Pau] Gasol struggles? He's going to struggle in any offense where he doesn't touch it.
"At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with [Mike] D'Antoni and his system. It's all about what Kobe will allow to happen. When you play the Lakers, it's like they don't have a system. It's whatever Kobe chooses it to be. If he wants to take all the shots, he'll do that. He'll pacify his teammates early in the game, but then he'll throw up a heat check and if he's got it going, nobody else touches the ball. And then the other team benefits because the other Lakers won't defend as hard and they won't be engaged because they're not a part of the game on the offensive end. Kobe has to trust you, and it looks like he thinks most of his guys aren't trustworthy yet.
"The problem between Kobe and Dwight is that you can't have Dwight on the floor in the fourth quarter, so how can you play through him. In Kobe's mind, that's why he doesn't pass the ball to Dwight. But the Lakers really need to sit down with Kobe and say, 'At this stage, this is what's best for the Lakers. We've got to play through our bigs.'
"Memphis is the best high-low team in the league with Marc Gasol and [Zach] Randolph. The Lakers could play that way with Dwight and Pau, but with Kobe shooting 28 times that's not going to happen. That could definitely work, but the key is getting Kobe to sign off on it. The thing bout this league is that every team is known for something. When you play the Lakers, you don't worry about stopping Kobe. You just make sure those other four guys don't have career nights because you can beat the Lakers with Kobe scoring 34, 35 points. Your biggest worry is if Kobe scores 25 points and has 8 assists and then Dwight has 20 points and 16 rebounds and Pau has 18 and 11 and Nash scores 16 with 10 assists.''
The scout says:
"One thing our coach always says is, 'Kobe's probably going to get his 28 points, but let's make sure it's on 28 shots and not 16 shots.' I would like to look at some box scores in detail to see if the Lakers are down in the fourth quarter and Kobe starts shooting a lot to lift them to a come back, or to see whether he was he getting to the foul line a lot in those other games where he didn't have as many field goal attempts.
"Watching the Lakers play the Knicks this year was hard to watch because the other Lakers were just so bad. It was like Kobe was trying to do all he could just to keep that game close. And hey, if Dwight's not going to try his butt off and if other guys aren't going to try their butts off, then I'm going to give the ball to the guy that's going to go for it, and that's Kobe. I don't think it's that Kobe doesn't trust his teammates; it's just that he trusts himself more. A questionable shot by him still might be better than a good look for one of those other guys. To me, they look disinterested.
"There's no chemistry. They're not pulling for one another. They're just a collection of individual talent that happens to be in the same place wearing the same uniforms. They look listless. Not Kobe, though.''
The general manager says:
"Everyone thinks the problem is everybody else but to me, the problem is Kobe. Take a look at Andrew Bynum's quotes the other day, where he said Kobe stunted his growth. He didn't like playing with Kobe.
"And Pau? Pau's a really nice guy and Kobe just walks all over him. On the one hand, it's good for Pau because it helps make him tougher but overall, I think it hurts his game. Kobe can smack Pau upside the head and Pau will still go back to him and say, 'Yes sir.' He's just too nice of a guy. But Pau can play. They won a few championships with him, so this notion that Kobe doesn't have anyone to play with and that he has to take all these shots is just wrong. Go back to the Oklahoma City series. Everybody blamed it on Pau and Bynum, but to me, it was more Kobe's fault.
And we know what kind of a player Dwight is. He's not at his best because he's coming off the back injury and because of the system D'Antoni's running, but it's obvious to me that Kobe doesn't trust him. And I'm not so sure he likes the way Dwight jokes around so much.''
Another scout says:
"That's been debated a lot -- whether Kobe is shooting too much. It's hard to argue against that if they're 8-3 when he doesn't shoot it 20 times. But I'd have to look at each game and study the game situations to really come to a conclusion. I don't think he's purposely hogging the ball or doing things selfishly to keep the team from winning. He's not trying to do anything to hurt the team. If he is shooting too much, it's only because he thinks that's what he has to do for the Lakers to win.
"My gut reaction is to say that Kobe does not need to shoot less. He's a top 5 player in the league, he's leading the league in scoring and he's shooting a good percentage. That's a big key - he's shooting a high percentage. It'd be one thing if he was forcing up shots and shooting poorly. But I will say this, when you have as much talent as they do, you shouldn't have to shoot it as much as Kobe has been.''