As expected, the Los Angeles Lakers lost another game, this time 103-97 in overtime to the Orlando Magic, as Byron Scott once again kept Jeremy Lin out of the big moments, knowing that going with different players makes it easier for his team to lose.
Tanking is an ugly phenomenon, and it destroys the soul of a team more often than not. As much as some would like to think that the Philadelphia 76ers going in that direction is building some sort of special chemistry between the young players and group of outcasts, tanking is usually about gutting a team to shreds and then playing the wrong players at the right time in hope that something lucky happens along the way. In short, it’s setting up the team to lose.
The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t exactly set up Byron Scott to fail. He’s a bad enough coach to do it on his own. But once again taking out Lin with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter and throwing Clarkson back in the game is pretty much equal to losing on purpose. Adam Silver and the rest of the brass in the NBA office can ignore the tanking phenomenon all they want, but this isn’t about improving a team or giving younger players a chance. This is as close as it gets to throwing a game without the players actually doing it on purpose.
Lin isn’t the only player suffering from playing under Byron Scott. Nick Young was off all game long, finishing with 0 points for the second time in three games. Carlos Boozer scored 14 points in 18 minutes (Although his defense was atrocious) and as usual, the decisions to sub players has nothing to do with how well they’re playing. It’s all about keeping the chances to win the game at a minimum, which is frustrating to watch, and not just for Lakers fans but for anyone who hates to see what the ugly part of the NBA looks like.
This wasn’t a bad experience for Lin. In fact, he did pretty much what he needs to in the short time he had on the floor: Shoot and make those shots counts. He scored 14 points in only 22 minutes, and as on most occasions, the Lakers were a lot better when he was on the floor and the ball was in his hands. His presence could have done wonders in overtime, especially with his hand being so hot, or by handling the ball a bit better or by giving an effort on defense. But that would have been beneficial for the team, and the Lakers, through Scott, don’t want that to happen.
Another game chalked and marked, Lin is a bit closer to this tormenting season ending. Maybe he gets a trade (or even unlikelier, a buyout) that puts him with a team that actually tries to win games and appreciate his talents and his value, but it’s more likely that he ends up on the Lakers until it’s over and only then begins a new way as a free agent, with a bit more power and options to choose the best thing for him.