Jeremy Lin

It seems the most important thing for Kobe Bryant this season is taking shots, hopefully scoring points while arguing about whether or not he deserves to be paid the way he is (he isn’t). Jeremy Lin, when he gets the opportunity, actually outplays the hall of famer, but it doesn’t matter with the Los Angeles Lakers crumbling on defense, losing 140-106 to the Dallas Mavericks.

The new Run DMC trio the Mavs have with Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons excelled, each of them scoring over 20 points in the same game for the first time this season, combining to score 64 points. Even with the Lakers playing defense that’s arguably (and statistically) the worst in the league, the Mavericks got quite hot and streaky, making more than a few shots their players don’t usually make.

They ended up shooting 62.2% from the field and 51.4% from beyond the arc, with J.J. Barea hitting 5-of-5 attempts, finishing with 16 points and 8 assists. Monta Ellis had 10 assists for the double double and Jameer Nelson, getting a bit more comfortable as the starting point guard on his new team added 7 assists, part of a whopping 37 for the Mavericks, coming on 51 of their field goals while turning the ball over only nine times.

The Lakers were in the game until the third quarter. They began the period behind by nine points, but fell apart in the final six minutes of the quarter, as the Mavs’ lead grew from only 8 points to 27 points in less than six minutes, including a sequence of scoring 11 unanswered points during one sequence. The Lakers were out of it in the fourth quarter, as the lead just grew, finishing with 51.8% from the field but simply not doing anything on defense to make their offense be worth anything.

Bryant was terrible, later suggesting his legs couldn’t hold him during the game. Why was he still playing? Why was he still shooting (6-of-22 from the field)? Bryant does whatever he wants and has a head coach that either doesn’t know how to stop him or simply is too afraid to do it. He did play only 31 minutes, hopefully giving him some time to rest, but the Lakers were at their worst during his moments on the court.

Jeremy Lin didn’t have a very good +/- either (-22), but that was a team problem, not just his. Offensively, he played better than anyone with 18 points on 8-of-11 from the field including five assists. He got to see plenty of the ball and was quite aggressive with it, which is something that comes and goes for him this season. It isn’t just about the balls going through him. Lin sometimes gets dejected very early on, preventing him from trying to make a change later in the game.

After winning two games in a row, the Lakers hit a wall, as expected. They didn’t play all that well in their win over the Rockets. It had more to do with Dwight Howard not playing than Bryant suddenly playing well, which has rarely happened over the course of an entire game this season, or at least in a way that’s made a difference. The Lakers are still terrible defensively and not good enough offensively. They’ll remain that way if Bryant continues to play for his own personal agenda instead of the team’s.

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