After three consecutive losses the Los Angeles Lakers won a game, beating the Sacramento Kings 98-95. Jeremy Lin continues to be punished by Byron Scott while Kobe Bryant does whatever he likes. Sometimes it actually works.
Bryant, except for rare occurrences of seeing the light and playing like a team player, is a one trick pony. Shoot, and shoot some more. Sometimes it’ll go in when it matters. Most of the time it just bounces off the rim, and his teammates get blamed for him not trusting them. He shot 11-of-27 from the field to finish with 32 points, enjoying a lot of homerism calls from the referees to go to the free throw line eight times, making all the shots. In the meantime, the joke known as Ronnie Price continues to start next to him, finishing with 2 points in 20 minutes and a -13 during his time on the floor.
(One Gif Describing Kobe Bryant Perfectly)
Not having Lin playing next to Bryant makes sense on Lin’s part, but he’s not doing much with it at this point. The Lakers did get more from Carlos Boozer, looking settled in his bench role with 15 points, while Nick Young (12), Ed Davis (11) and Wesley Johnson (10) to help the Lakers slip by the Kings, a better and more talented team, but struggling without DeMarcus Cousins on the floor, getting only 13 points from their starting big men.
In 22 minutes of basketball, there’s not much Lin can do. Finishing with 3 points and 4 assists won’t bring him back into Scott’s good graces. He left Lin out of the final 6:45, as the Lakers made their way back from behind to win by three points. The Lakers actually played well with Lin on the floor (+9), but limited coaches look at obvious things and not the important numbers. Unless Lin starts taking care of himself first, which is something he doesn’t tend to do, a player as bad as Ronnie Price will continue to start for the Lakers.
Jeremy Lin needs to find a way out of this funk. He did better than the numbers show: The Lakers played well with him on the floor, and he brings a certain kind of with-the-ball intelligence no other player on this team (aside from Bryant) has. Yet Scott has no reason to bring him back into the lineup or give him more minutes than 24 a night when Lin continues to put up numbers such as these, making the toughest period of his career even more difficult.
Magic Johnson, a former teammate of Scott’s, suggested the Lakers start losing on purpose. I wonder what Johnson the player would have said about Johnson the media personality, but that’s besides the point. Tanking is bad. Playing to win never hurts, especially when you know that you’re not good enough to actually do something substantial. The league needs less teams devaluing the product, not more of them, especially with a brand name like the Lakers.