Los Angeles Lakers – A Lesson in Who is Really Important

If Kobe Bryant couldn’t have played any worse and the Los Angeles Lakers, led in scoring by Dwight Howard once again, still came up with the win, what does that mean about who should be the focus of this offense? Not sure, but it does raise a few questions about the hierarchy on this team’s offense.

Kobe Bryant, 4 points. Not just his lowest scoring output of the season. It was the first time since 2005 that Bryant scored so few points, and the first time in a game he has started and logged at least 11 minutes in, his lowest point total under those terms.

In general, it was an ugly game of basketball from the Lakers, winning 91-85 thanks to a 26-14 fourth quarter, erasing a disgraceful third in which they scored only 9 points. That’s their worst quarter of the season, obviously. Bryant wasn’t really a part of the win. Of his nine assists, only one came in the second half. Still, he didn’t seem to mind being out of the spotlight.

I thought it was great, actually.Obviously, scoring four points, going 1-for-8, that’s not necessarily a recipe for success. But it’s not about us as individuals. It’s about what we can do to help the team. I’ve been doing that since January, when I was trying to make the right play, keep everybody involved, and then I try to get going a little bit. But they took away my post-ups to see if the other guys could beat us, or maybe if I’d get frustrated or force things a little bit, but I just took the double-teams and just tried to make the right play.

Bryant gets double teams on the post quite often, but it’s not this often he lets a few bad shots deter him. Maybe this was his way of getting his teammates involved. Maybe he just didn’t feel like scoring. Whatever it was, it worked. Dwight Howard didn’t look so sad anymore (some say it’s his home-away game attitude that makes all the difference), finishing with 19 points and 18 rebounds, getting the kind of touches, and the amount of touches, he wants to see every game.

But you can see where the minds of the Lakers are. This is Bryant’s team, not Howard’s team. Not too many words of praise were thrown at Howard, who’s playing injured and is still limited in his mobility, clearly seen on both ends of the floor. Maybe it’s an injury you can play with, but it just feels like unless Howard takes this team to the playoffs with a series of 20-20 games, it’s not going to be enough to win back the faith and appreciation of his teammates.

Mike D’Antoni, as you expected, was more about Kobe Bryant and shrugging off the bad night he had.

I guess every 17 years, he’s allowed that. I wouldn’t be too tough on him. It was just one of those nights. He was trying too hard to get everybody else involved. You’ve got to walk the fine line, and he’s way over the other line. Just write it off and get to the next one.

There’s just one more game left for the Lakers before the All-Star break, an LA derby, playing the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, as the home team. The Clippers are getting hot once again, the Lakers are… well, you never know what they are. Maybe a bit wiser after this road trip about the direction their offense should be going.

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