The return of Kobe Bryant did show a less selfish version of himself but not necessarily a better one, ruining it for Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and his teammates as the Los Angeles Lakers lost for the third straight time and sixth in seven games, this time to the red hot Phoenix Suns.
The offense clicked for the most part in the 116-107 defeat but the defense continues to move between less than competent and being a complete joke at times, especially when Bryant and Ronnie Price are in the backcourt together. As much as we love to bash both players, it can’t be that Markieff Morris gets to post up on Nick Young and there isn’t a single thought among Lakers’ big men to try and help or make a switch. That has a little thing to do with the coaching we’ve been criticizing heavily lately, although nothing is getting better.
Lin scored 19 points with 8-of-11 from the field, forgetting about making everyone happy and simply taking what was given to him. He did have three assists, two of them to Nick Young on 3-point shots with Young leading the team scoring 21 points in 25 minutes. Lin was once again surprising with some of his defensive plays, getting a steal and two blocks, making it five blocks over the last two games and 2.25 steals over the last four.
Kobe Bryant had his ‘old-age’ rest and maybe it made him realize that shooting a lot isn’t helpful for his team. He scored 10 points on 4-of-10 from the field (50% eFG, which isn’t too bad) and also finished with 7 assists. However, he turned the ball over five times and looked miserable to lazy and apathetic on defense during too many possessions. Still, his offensive approach wasn’t all that bad, while Scott maybe needs to keep trimming down his minutes.
Because Young is the team’s best scorer, and got only 25 minutes on the floor. Jeremy Lin did have foul trouble (five personal fouls) but needed more than 26 minutes. Maybe not in every game and obviously sometimes form dictates those changes, but the minute spread and Byron Scott refraining from using his best lineups more than he has is another example of just how clueless he seems to be about getitng the most out of this team.
Despite losing this to the Suns, the Lakers didn’t look bad all the way. Jeremy Lin nailed a huge 3-pointer to make it a 3-point game before the Morris on Young possession which was so infuriating to see, followed by Bryant’s most frustrating turnover as he isolated himself in the corner before trying to make his way between two defenders and looked careless when giving up the ball. There’s potential to this team to look better than they have, but the same obstacles keep getting in the way.
And a side note about the winners, and a head coach who isn’t afraid to try something different and stick with what’s working, even it means less playing time for established players: The Suns are close to unstoppable lately with their 3-point guard lineup of Dragic, Bledsoe and Thomas. he Suns have outscored opponents by 35 points per 100 possessions with this trio on the court during the winning streak. They have played 17 more minutes during the streak than the rest of the season combined.
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