The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t keep up with the Phoenix Suns in a 115-100 loss but Jeremy Lin did well with Kobe Bryant taking another game of rest to get his third double double of the season and be the most useful player for his losing side.
Byron Scott still has us confused with the way he’s been allocating minutes, even with Bryant out of the picture half the time. Lin did play 31 minutes thanks to Ronnie Price not being available, but why does Nick Young get only 26 minutes and why doesn’t Tarik Black play a bit more? Those aren’t the only questions regarding the Lakers, holding on during half time before the three point guard lineup of the Suns took over.
Lin scored 10 points to go with 10 assists, his first double double since late November, which happened to be his best month this season. It was also the first time Lin scored in double figures since the current losing streak (five in a row) began, not being able to build on the momentum he had following his 18-point performance again the Magic, capping off five consecutive games of 10 points or more, which doesn’t happen much for players who get toyed around by their head coach.
Why did the Lakers lose? Besides having Scott who doesn’t know how to respond to tactical changes by opposition coaches and comes with the numbers and minutes he plans to use each player in already from home, doing a terrible job of actually reacting to the developing game in front of him, turnovers were the biggest killer. The Lakers turned the ball over 23 times, including six by Nick Young, who does a bit too much, feeling to free as Bryant rests his body, getting everyone ready for the moment he’ll be shut down or even the more unlikely scenario: Announce his retirement.
Along with being unable to coach defense, there’s another big problem the Lakers are facing. Kobe Bryant plays, and then rests, and then plays two games, and then takes five days off. The team is completely different each time, because when Bryant plays everything goes through him, the offense is slower and the minutes for Jeremy Lin and Nick Young get eaten up. When he doesn’t? If Ronnie Price is out as well, Lin gets to be the team’s playmaker and Young has complete freedom to do whatever he wants. Those aren’t the only differences.
The Lakers are a better team most of the time when Bryant doesn’t play. The problem is continuity. Not just of the personnel, but of the system and the hierarchy which Scott keeps changing. Even Bryant isn’t a constant. He’ll play one game out of three, and in one game feel like chucking every ball that goes through his hands, and in the other game will finally look like the responsible player everyone knows he needs to be. Even when he’s not playing, he’s getting in the way, sort of.