The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t as close to winning as the 102-98 score might suggest. The Dallas Mavericks were better for most of the game, but things got closer in the fourth quarter with Jeremy Lin playing a big part in that. If only his scoring on the day was as good as his passing.
For Lin to climb out of the reduced role he finds himself in, the ball needs to start falling into the net. Lin scored just five points on 2-of-8 from the field. He did finish with 5 rebounds and more importantly 7 assists. The Lakers looked better when he was on the court, at least offensively, and will continue to be that way as long as he’s confident in his role as a playmaker. But Lin can’t keep finishing with single digit scoring nights if he is to win back the respect of Byron Scott.
Scott is an incompetent coach. His career since his days as the head coach of the Nets, more than a decade ago, clearly show that. But he is still the one calling the shots for the Lakers, besides Kobe Bryant, who right now is learning that playing like he’s 25 when his body is closer to 40 has taken a much bigger toll on him than he thought. Arrogant, selfish people tend to forget their weaknesses. Bryant hasn’t just hurt his team when playing. He’s doing the same by being unavailable completely, leaving the Lakers to scramble with another name scratched off the list.
In general, the biggest problem for this team is consistency on offense and above all else, defense. When Rajon Rondo scores 21 points, you know he was facing a bad defensive unit. It’s not just about this or that player failing when defending him. One player can be less than a super defender and still not pose a problem. But uncoached teams are easy to spot. Any signal individual breakdown immediatly makes everything fall apart. Scott either can’t get through to his players or simply doesn’t know what he’s doing. Both conclusions aren’t exactly optimistic.
There wasn’t a lot to learn from the loss to the Mavericks, which overall, was the expected result. But the Lakers fail to show progress except for singular blurts of excellence, which have more to do with players stepping up on certain days than the coach improving his team. Jeremy Lin asn’t the reason they lost or fell short of their comeback attempt, but did miss too much in the fourth. He does a lot of things beyond numbers and points, but in the situation he’s found himself in, only scoring is going to get him out of it.
And defense? Look elsewhere than Lin to find the ones to blame. He finished with 3 blocks and a steal. Those numbers don’t represent an entire body of work on defense, but the Lakers would have done worse without him. More than 22 minutes a night, still less than Ronnie Price, might have been more beneficial to everyone.