He's listed as a shooting guard.
But Doug Christie is more of a stopping guard.
Christie shoots the basketball, yes. But his real job -- how he earns a paycheck -- is stopping other shooting guards. One of the best defenders in the NBA, Christie led the league in steals (183) this year.
Matched up against the creative Kobe Bryant, Christie doesn't have to completely stop Bryant. Containing him would be nice. But harassing him, bumping him, (an occasional "playoff foul" for instance) and making him exert maximum effort for every shot may be the key to the series.
Bryant is going score. He's going to score a bunch. Christie just needs to force Bryant into the tough shots, fadeaways and off-balance leaners. The type of shots Bryant loves to take, many of which are ones his teammates wishes he would pass on. Literally.
We know Kobe Bryant can drill the spot-up jumper. He can create a shot for himself, no problem. He can fade and hit. Drive and dunk. He even passes sometimes.
Sometimes. He's going to have to pass more. Trust his teammates more.
The Lakers won 11 straight games heading into the Sacramento series, and we haven't been heard too much about those Shaq-Kobe tensions lately.
Coincidence? Yeah, probably not.
Bryant will get his points, but the Lakers will win or lose based on how much trust he shows in his teammates. So far, the Lakers look ripe for a repeat.
But if not, if the Lakers go home early, then the Bryant trade rumors will really heat up.