Even more praise for Shane Battier's defensive ability

I'd like for you to take a look at this:

Kobe Bryant

Through five games vs. Denver: Sixty-three free throw attempts.

In seven games vs. Houston: Forty-two free throw attempts.

An underrated aspect of playing defense is prohibiting great free throw shooters from getting to the line.  While everyone (myself included) marveled at Shane's ability to nearly blind his opponent mid-shot, they forgot about some of the subtleties.  Which is surprising, because I thought we had figured those out already.

If a player like Bryant can get to the free throw line ten times per game, it's a free 9-10 points.  In Game 5 versus Denver, Kobe went 6-13 from the field, but he also made nine free throws, finishing with 22 points in a Laker win.  In Game 4 at Houston, Kobe went 7-17 from the field, but finished with only 15 points.  He did not attempt a single free throw.

Shane may not be the sexiest or quickest defender around, but he knows how to shuffle his feet and get from Point A to Point B as fast as anyone.  Cutting off Kobe's drives to the basket is one of the most difficult tasks defensively, and Battier did a fantastic job in Round 2.

So if anyone still wants to say something like "Battier certainly regressed defensively this season" -- save it.  There's no use.  Don't be too quick to mark him solely as an "efficient defender" because he's still one of the best at 'traditional defense' as well.

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