Performances can’t get much worse than what Jeremy Lin had to deliver in the 111-95 Los Angeles Lakers loss to the Washington Wizards, while Kobe Bryant seemed to start out quite sizzling before fading away into his usual array of misses, not that it stopped him from shooting.
Jeremy Lin scored 0 points in 21 minutes of basketball, missing all of his ten field goal attempts, including six from beyond the arc. The Lakers tried a different approach to their offense, which generally has been looking better in the last several games, shooting 29 3-pointers, making 12 of them. If it wasn’t for Lin’s targeting system being way off the mark, it would have looked like quite an incredible day of shooting from long range.
When Lin wasn’t taking shots, most of them not bad, he was pretty useful, finishing with four rebounds and five assists. But with or without confidence, Lin got plenty of touches in the 21 minutes he was on the floor and did very poorly with them. Players can have off days, and this isn’t characteristic of him, but the Lakers can’t afford for such an important player to be that damaging to them on offense. They already have one of those, who will never get benched even if things go wrong for him.
Bryant did finish with 29 points, but 15 of them came in the first quarter out of 20 in the first half. He shot just 8-of-22 from the field, but terrible shooting percentages are nothing new for Bryant, nor it is something that discourages him from keeping the wheels in motion. He is now only 111 points away from moving up to third on the all-time scoring list in the NBA, and above all else, that’s what he’s playing for. Winning? Putting his team in the best position to win? That’s secondary.
Lin and anyone else on the Lakers who tried to guard John Wall got burnt. The best point guard in the East so far this season scored 17 points to go with 15 assists, which helped everyone forget about his 6-of-18 from the field. Jeremy Lin had no luck with him, but Kobe Bryant and others who tried guarding him didn’t really have any luck in slowing him down. He didn’t always score, but he always put himself or a teammate in a very easy position to score.
Beyond the misses by Lin and Bryant, there was Nick Young with 21 points on 50% from the field. The defense not being there was another regular thing in Lakers games this season, coming after wins against the Raptors and the Pistons. Despite their previous impressive record against the Eastern conference, you can’t fool everyone forever. The Wizards are a better team, and not having any way of slowing down good players comes back to bite you, especially when the shooting isn’t too spectacular.
Lin will bounce back from this, although you never know if Scott all of a sudden decides to put Ronnie Price in the lineup instead of him. That obviously depends on Kobe Bryant’s approval. But on a finishing note regarding Lin, because Bryant didn’t show us something new and never will, Lin can’t settle for long range shots like he did. He did miss a few from close, but the more he missed the more afraid he seemed to be of driving to the paint.
While his 3-point shooting has improved gradually, his greatest strength is his ability to shred a defense when moving inside and finding open players or scoring on his own. Taking that part away from his game really makes him not-so-unique on the floor. It won’t lead to more games like this, but it won’t generate too many highlights for him either, not to mention give him leverage once this contract runs out.