Brian and Andrew Kamenetzky of the ESPN Los Angeles blog Land O’Lakers were kind enough to let me answer some Pistons-related questions about tonight’s game, including what the Pistons might do to defend Kobe Bryant:
LO’L: What do you expect as the approach for defending Kobe? I picture a lot of matchup issues beyond just the inherently difficult task of checking him.
PH: Is hopping in a time machine and fetching the Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 Finals out of the question? Honestly, I’m much less worried about how the Pistons defend Bryant than how they deal with Gasol/Bynum. Prince is still a serviceable, lanky defender who will bother Bryant’s shots with his length and Rodney Stuckey gives the Pistons a big, strong, fast guard capable of good defense when he plays motivated to change up the look they give Bryant. Other than Ben Wallace, who plays very limited minutes, the Pistons don’t have a single credible defensive player in the frontcourt who can remotely handle Gasol or Bynum. If Kobe feels like having a restful night, he can just feed the ball into his bigs for easy buckets and most likely win in a blowout. Now, Bryant can certainly destroy the Pistons’ defense too, but they stand a slightly better chance if he’s shooting a lot than if Gasol/Bynum are getting the bulk of the touches.
It’s not that I have much hope that the Pistons would be able to hold Bryant in check, but Bryant is capable of the occasional clunker. Hopefully, a road game in Detroit against a bad team makes for a Kobe who is content to volume shoot and not involve his bigs. That’s really the only shot the Pistons have. If Gasol/Bynum are getting tons of touches, this game could get out of hand quickly.