In another example of how distorted the thinking for the Los Angeles Lakers has been this season and for the last few years, Byron Scott keeps gushing about Kobe Bryant while the brand of basketball he’s responsible for keeps putting on embarrassing performances.
Nick Young isn’t playing, although Scott doesn’t mind. He never liked Young, and is using the incident with D’Angelo Russell as an excuse to keep him off the court. He doesn’t like Russell or young players in general either, but there’s only so much he can do to not seem like he’s losing on purpose, although that’s the only reason Scott was hired for. To lose as much as possible while crossing his arms, look furious and keep Kobe Bryant thinking he’s the greatest thing walking the earth of Southern California.
After losing 103-81 to the Los Angeles Clippers with the Lakers shooting 31.3% from the field and dishing out only 11 assists in the loss, Scott was more concerned about Bryant not leaving the sport the way he deserves than how his team looked on both ends of the floor.
It bothers me that his last five, six, seven, eight games are going to be with the way we’re playing as a team. That bothers me, because you’re talking about a champion. That bothers me, because he is a champion. And I hate to see him go out this way. Unfortunately this is the way it’s going to be. It bothers the hell out of me that somebody who’s given 20 years to this league and has played through broken fingers, come back from the Achilles, come back from the shoulder surgery, and he still goes out there and gives it everything he has, that bothers me.
D’Angelo Russell was 4-for-17 from the field in another awful game for him since the whole scandal involving Young, him and Iggy Azalea broke out. Jordan Clarkson was 4-for-13 in a season it felt like he hasn’t made much progress. I wonder why. Roy Hibbert and Julius Randle didn’t have a single field goal between them. The Lakers are going to finish the season with 16, 17 or 18 wins. Not more. But what Scott is worried about is Kobe Bryant leaving the league like a champion or something like that. That his retirement tour, which Shaquille O’Neal recently admitted he’s envious of, isn’t fitting to what he’s done in the league.
Bryant was 2-for-12 from the field, scoring 6 points. It seems as if his body is in retirement already, but Bryant is forcing himself to go through this last stretch just so when he does call it quits, it won’t be in a suit while watching from the sidelines. After a shot inactive stretch, he’s played eight games in a row. In them he’s averaged 16.1 points but shooting 34.1% from the field, and hasn’t hit 50% or more of his field goals in almost a month. The Lakers are losing by 11.4 points per game on average when he’s playing. He has shot better than 16.7% from the field just once in his last four games.
Yes, the Lakers are embarrassing. Yes, Bryant is a great player and deserves credit for playing through injuries, although his insistence might be doing the team more harm than good. But he shouldn’t be on the floor for too many minutes each night. The 22 he played against the Clippers seemed like too much. But Scott is worried about the way Bryant is leaving the NBA. Scott is probably leaving the NBA too after that game, unless the Lakers want to try and break more franchise records of the wrong kind next season.