The absence of Kobe Bryant was a trick that worked just once. Sitting out for a second straight game, not playing didn’t inspire the Los Angeles Lakers, Jeremy Lin and Nick Young among them, to do very well in a 20 point loss to the Chicago Bulls, bringing this team back to the ground and reality about who they are and their place in this league.
As fun as they were to watch in the win over the Golden State Warriors, getting rid of selfish tendencies from the lineup doesn’t solve all problems – defense, rebounding and offensive consistency. Nick Young suddenly got left on the bench, as Byron Scott’s attempts at going with organic, hardly mixed lineups resulted in failure, with the Bulls’ bench unit wiping the floor with the Lakers, and things not going a lot better for the starters against Derrick Rose and company.
Playing against a team that normally is one of the best defensive units in the NBA, having every important player of theirs on the floor at one point or another, the Lakers shot just 39.1% from the field and gave up 20 offensive rebounds. It’s rare to see teams turn the ball over just four times, but when every basket is more difficult to get than birthing a child and rebounding the ball feels like an insurmountable missing, it’s no surprise to see them going down rather easily.
Jeremy Lin continues with the annoying trend of a good game followed by two bad ones, scoring six points in 19 minutes on 2-of-8 from the field. Sometimes, it’s simply a bad day from him, although he wasn’t alone in that. It’s hard to think of a single players from the Lakers who put up a decent game, except for maybe Carlos Boozer, scoring 14 points in 17 minutes against a team that released him via amnesty clause a year or two later than they should have.
From here there’s only the future to think about. This game meant just how bad the Lakers are, mostly due to a coaching staff that seems to do nothing to improve this team. Even more than Kobe Bryant and his attempts at carving a piece of history just for himself, there’s the face of Byron Scott, above his crossed arms, and a frozen stare at the court, often looking like a man who can’t change anything before, during and after a game.
The win over the Warriors might have been a tad of a fluke, but it showed something: Team basketball, even when the talent level is inferior to their opponent, is the most important thing in this league. Kobe Bryant can find a place in that mold, but the question remains: Does he have any intention to? It’s not wrong to have a wild card like Young doing unpredictable things, but it all has to come in the frame of certain guidelines. Bryant has been exceeding and overstepping them all season long.
And for Jeremy Lin, it’s matter of hoping things come together for him in his struggle to prove he deserves more than 18-22 minutes a night, and playing in the right lineup. Scott won’t build a team around him, no one will, but the continuously ignoring him and not making the most of his talents and his ability to score ,pass and overall make the players around him better is another reason, a very big one, why this season has been so bad for the Lakers, and an example of the growing incompetence of Byron Scott.