Solving the Zone Defense: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol Must Take the Lead

May 26th, 2010 by Hadarii Jones Leave a reply »
It's not rocket science.

The Phoenix Suns' Game Three victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals was due to an inability to adjust to the Suns' zone defense, and the Lakers' 115-106 loss in Game Four bears parallel undertones.

The zone defense actually goes against the Suns' principles because they would much rather play at a faster tempo, but trying to defend the Lakers' in single coverage proved to be impossible for the Suns in the first two games of the series.

The Lakers' response to the zone has been typical, because an emphasis is placed on forcing offensive players to hit perimeter shots, and the Lakers obliged by jacking up 32 three point shots in Game Three and 28 in Game Four.

Attacking a zone defense with dribble penetration is the most common method of countering the gimmick scheme, and Kobe Bryant's two performances in Phoenix were a tutorial on how to do this.

Bryant accumulated 74 points, 23 assists, and 16 rebounds in Phoenix, and almost single-handedly rendered the Suns' zone irrelevant, except he has been missing some help in the post.

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