Even when he scored 40 points, Kobe Bryant isn’t happy. He can’t be when the Los Angeles Lakers lose, and his triple double has 10 turnovers on it. The Lakers under Mike D’Antoni continue to search for consistency and ways to bring more players to contribute besides Bryant.
For now, even when he’s sick, it feels like he’s alone in this. Maybe he’s taking too much on himself, not allowing anyone to lend a hand or try to step up on their own. But Bryant’s inner struggles of his ego and the desire to win, which usually went hand in hand, are in a conflict these days. It’s about recognizing if the team is better with him taking almost every shot or better when he takes a step back. The answer? Inconclusive, and the Lakers have so many problems, Bryant’s one man show isn’t all that important to some.
But this was too much of what the Lakers and Kobe Bryant are notorious for on bad days. He took 28 field goal attempts, making 12 of them. Not bad. Got to the line 13 more times, making 11 shots. He hit the three pointer that tied the game, before George Hill blew by Metta World Peace, while Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were too late to come for help on the Pacers point guard. Bryant had himself sort of a fever game, just like Michael Jordan. He just lost in the end, and he didn’t have a Scottie Pippen to carry him across the finish line as a winner.
While comparing NBA finals feats with just another regular season game is a bit out of line, the Lakers are in trouble. The Pacers are an excellent defensive team, but not that good to make the Lakers miss out on achieving franchise lows in points scored (eventually reaching 77) and field goal percentage, making only 31.6% of their shots. Their free throw performance was even more embarrassing. They say Dwight Howard has been working on his low post moves so he can feel a bit more comfortable as the next in line of great centers that have played for this franchise. Clearly, he hasn’t been working (or at least improving) his free throw form and success.
How bad? 3-12, putting him at 47.8% from the line this season. That are 5.5 points per game the Lakers are missing out on. Despite another impressive stat line of 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks, it’s the things Howard isn’t doing that are what everyone will be talking about, along with the rest of this team’s faults.
Like Pau Gasol continuously looking like a fade of his former self. Yes, Dwight Howard takes away some shots and numbers; maybe Mike D’Antony isn’t using Gasol in the right way and should switch from time to time between the two players, or simply start using Jordan Hill next to Howard more and more. Many questions and things that look wrong, but the Lakers, 15 games in to the new season, are still looking for too many answers.
Without a point guard, it’s hard to say how the system will work. The Lakers too easily drift away from their game plan (if there is one) resorting to the most comfortable solution: Kobe Bryant shooting and shooting, Dwight Howard thriving on the leftovers. This isn’t how a team, especially this team, with these expectations and aspirations, should be playing. It sometimes feels like they have so many problems, they don’t know which one to address first, not to mention the one no one is willing to touch and confront.