Sometimes the preseason results are meaningless, but there are losses and there are worse things. Jeremy Lin didn’t play for the second game in a row as the Los Angeles Lakers were humiliated at home against the Utah Jazz, losing 119-86, while Kobe Bryant got another example of just how bad of a team he has around him.
Bryant had a very good game, maybe too good and putting in too much of an effort than he or Byron Scott would have liked to see. Bryant scored 27 points on 10-of-23 from the field, and the Lakers didn’t look too bad when he was on the floor, losing by only six points during those minutes. But without him? A complete collapse, and a complete lack of idea on how to score points when he was off the floor.
Ronnie Price started at point guard, this time not throwing a shoe at any one, scoring 8 points. Keith Appling also got some minutes in the backcourt off the bench, scoring two points on 1-of-3 from the field. But with Steve Nash out and Jeremy Lin still nursing an injured ankle, the Lakers had just one reliable player to handle the ball – Bryant. And when trying to think about what happens over the course of a season, the Lakers aren’t going to be able to rely on him playing 35 minutes a night each game, maybe more.
The defense looked bad no matter who was on the floor. At least Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill did a good job in the paint with 29 points combined. But that was mostly when Bryant was on the floor. Julius Randle, playing with the backups, didn’t have anyone to help him in the backcourt or feed him the ball He finished with just four points and the importance of having someone who can lead the second unit and push the ball forward was exposed once again as critical.
Another matter is the 3-pointers. It’s as if Byron Scott asked the players to not throw any at all. They finished with 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Scott might be an old school coach in some ways, but in today’s NBA, having a game plan that is completely devoid from some 3-point shooting just isn’t going to work. Scott said he doesn’t want his team shooting so much, but then you remember it’s been a very long time since Scott actually succeeded with any of his teams.
Jeremy Lin, despite our love for him, won’t be the player that determines whether the Lakers make the playoffs or not. It’s bigger than just him, or any one player, including Kobe Bryant. But with every game that goes by, it becomes more and more clear just how important Lin’s role, be it as a backup point guard who just happens to be the second best player on this team or maybe a different role, is turning out to be.