Another superb scoring performance from Kobe Bryant, another loss for the Los Angeles Lakers. A team that was supposed to be playing the most balanced kind of offense in the NBA when the season kicked off has changed and turned and transformed into a torn apart unit that simply doesn’t know what to do to win games.
They’re now 9-13, 1-4 without Pau Gasol. Everyone loved to criticize how Gasol isn’t fitting in the Mike D’Antoni system and struggling playing far away from the basket. So Kobe Bryant is thriving, scoring 42 points against the Cavs and now averaging 29.2 points per game with excellent shooting percentage, now at 48.8% from the field this season.
But while Dwight Howard is pulling some impressive numbers, finishing with 19 points and 20 rebounds in the 100-94 loss to Cleveland, he was terrible near the basket, finishing with 3-9 from the field and went 13-22 from the line. Better than usual, but still more than the difference in which the Lakers lost. Ignoring the ability, the mistakes and the bad defending for most of the game, Howard’s missed shots have cost the Lakers quite a few wins, if you’re won to only look at the numbers.
And while Kobe Bryant is getting frustrated with losses he can’t explain or simply tired of finding the same reasons for them; Mike D’Antoni angry at being questioned regarding his defensive schemes and practices, the Lakers keep failing at the small stuff. Bryant is putting up huge offensive numbers, but he turned the ball over five times and had only two assists. The Lakers finished with only 11, while turning the ball over 18 times.
The offense is stuck. Without the right kind of point guard (Steve Nash?), the D’Antnoi system seems useless. Everyone are turned into jump shooters, including Bryant, who is thriving averaging 6.3 threes per game, which is slightly higher than his 5.3 season average, and much higher than his 3.9 career average. A lot of motion, but nothing too organized or that seems planned. Eventually, the guys with the talent come out on top. Bryant, with names and roles changing around him, except for Dwight Howard who isn’t doing as well as his numbers might suggest, is alone in the battlefield, falling victim to his own vices of ball hogging and taking the game on his shoulders.
And the defense? The Lakers went with Jordan Hill and Dwight Howard playing together. While it got them some impressive rebounding numbers (54, 15 of them offensive), their guards, especially Chris Duhon and Kobe Bryant, got blown away by Kyrie Irving and Alonzo Gee time after time. There’s a video of Bryant blocking Irving on some one on one showdown, but don’t let that fool you. Old legs, lazy legs, are what the Lakers are showing most of the game on the perimeter, without being able to handle the pick n’ roll plays that have become one of their notorious trademarks this season.
Here is the stat line, make of it what you will: The Lakers are 1-10 when Bryant scores over 30 points. Is it his fault? It doesn’t matter. The only player on this team with the ability to change the way they play on the court is him. For whatever reason, he keeps on choosing playing the same old way, thinking that at some point it might start getting the Lakers on a winning road. Not likely without both Gasol and Nash still on the DL.