The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t get any better by changing the lineup and sending Jeremy Lin to the bench. They lost 104-87 to the New Orleans Pelicans as Kobe Bryant and Nick Young continue their experiment in who can take more bad shots per minute each game, and Byron Scott looking more clueless by the minute.
The problem by benching Lin and putting Price in the lineup? Price is an awful player who might not even deserve a spot on an NBA team, let alone start for one. In the meantime, Lin’s confidence isn’t exactly sky high considering the situation he once again finds himself in: Either playing in the lineup next to a shooting guard that won’t let anything or anyone flourish next to him, or play on a very weak bench unit, knowing the coach doesn’t have much faith in him.
If you look at our record, we have to make changes, at least I think I do. As a coach, I’m not going to stand pat and just watch it continue to be played this way. So to me, it was a no-brainer. The reason is obviously on the defensive end. The last five games I’ve been thinking about this.
Lin isn’t alone in the ‘tossed aside’ situation. Carlos Boozer who was riding a streak of starting 588 consecutive games (when he’s healthy) hasn’t come off the bench in a game since a Jazz game in Miami more than eight years ago. He scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 23 minutes, but the team didn’t look any better during his minutes, while Ed Davis, starting instead of him, scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.
The big problem for the Lakers comes from defense, giving up 111.2 points per game and ranking at the bottom or near it in every possible category: Points per game, points per possession and allowed field goal percentage. Scott thinking that just plugging in players in and out is the solution shows how little connection he has to this team and the coaching role, which should be about showing his players what to do instead of hoping things will magically fix themselves through personnel changes.
Lin played only 20 minutes off the bench, finishing with 1-of-5 from the field. He had some nice moments of making the others around him better, but lacked the aggression he needs to have in order to make the most of this change. He is the best player on the second unit, but Nick Young is as big of a black hole and ego as Kobe Bryant is, which means more minutes of not getting to play point guard in the way it should be played; a way that benefits Lin and more so the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant? He’s a man on a mission. Not to win basketball games, but to move up the ladder of the all-time scoring list. His 14 points on 6-of-18 from the field including 0-of-5 from beyond the arc get him to 63 points from Michael Jordan. Other than that? Bryant doesn’t care about anything else, no matter who ‘angry’ he might make himself seem. He knows this team is just a platform for him to score points and polish his legacy (doing the opposite), but is actually doing the opposite in the eyes of everyone except for Bryant die-hard fans, who care about the same thing he does.
So while the franchise is throwing away another year at the expense of one player’s ego, players get to see their career and best interests put on hold. The entire world saw what being a ‘team’ means through the Spurs’ rise back to prominence over the last three years. But stubborn head coaches like Scott think that by preaching hard work things will take care of themselves. Jeremy Lin, who we usually focus on, isn’t the only one suffering.