The Los Angeles Lakers losing isn’t too much of a rarity over the last two years. With the poisonous combination of Kobe Bryant on the floor and Byron Scott on the sidelines, expect a lot more of it this season.
The Lakers lost 112-111 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in their season opener at the Staples Center. Bryant did lead the Lakers with 24 points, but needed 24 shots to get there, making only 8 of them. He was also 3-0f-13 from beyond the arc.
Not that Bryant was the only bad player for the Lakers. D’Angelo Russell making his debut scored just 4 points while shooting 2-of-7 from the field. Jordan Clarkson had a so-so night with 14 points, but the Lakers were better when he was playing. Roy Hibbert finished with 12 points but couldn’t make shots if they weren’t from the line. Ryan Kelly played 21 minutes (we’ll get to that) and scored 3 points in them. If you’re a defensive stopper, you can be forgiven for doing nothing on offense. But Kelly isn’t special on defense.
But this was the season Bryant was supposed to make the move to the side and allow the new guys – Russell, Clarkson, Julius Randle (who was pretty good in his second first game of his career). Bryant can’t let himself do that. Not yet. Otherwise it’s hard to explain him going off like that is he’s still the player he was four-five years ago, and not the player a franchise can’t wait to see, along with his huge contract, gone for good, despite all the achievements in the past.
This has something to do with Byron Scott. If Bryant is allowed to ignore everyone on the court and go on isolation, one on one plays five possessions in a row, blame the gutless or clueless coach, not the player. Bryant will take what’s given to him and then try taking some more. Scott should have benched him instead of allowing him to do whatever he wants.
But we’ve come to know what Scott in 2015 knows about basketball, and it isn’t a lot. A defensive specialist with a team that can’t play defense, despite having Hibbert on the team. A disciplinarian who hasn’t done anything worthwhile in about a decade, who doesn’t or refuses to read situations developing on the court, instead going with decisions he made up before. Ryan Kelly playing in crunch time? Allowing the Timberwolves to come back from 16 points down in the second half? Did they want to make them feel good after Flip Saunders’ death that badly? No. It’s probably incompetence, nothing else.
The Lakers are stuck with Scott and Bryant until the end of the season and who knows, maybe even more if some rumors are true. Who knows, maybe they’ll learn from their mistakes and evolve, adapt, and let go in order for this franchise to finally move forward. However, recent history teaches us that expecting Bryant to change or for Scott to learn anything is wishful, but always ends in disappointment.