The Los Angeles Lakers remain without a win, falling to 0-5 after a 112-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns, as Kobe Bryant continues to ignore the fact that he can help and be helped by Jeremy Lin and others to try and pull his team out of the hole they’ve fallen in to.
In the eyes of many Lakers fans, Kobe Bryant can do no wrong. But when he decides that this team is about him and no one else, and obviously the head coach has no say in the matter, it’s not very surprising to see him taking 37 shots and ruin the game for his own team. Yes, he did score 39 points, but his performance was mostly negative instead of taking advantage of all the attention he’s getting and helping Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill make their mark on the game.
So Bryant shot 14-of-37 from the field, dragging his team’s shooting percentage down to below 40%. Without Bryant’s shooting it wasn’t that great, as the others combined to hit only 41.1% of their shots. But Bryant seems to be convinced that him shooting and ignoring everything and everyone around him is the best thing for his team. Yes, he’s the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2009 to have a 39-and-9 game after his 36th birthday and only the fifth in the last 30 seasons (Michael Jordan did it three times with the Wizards), but it’s helping him and his legacy, not his team.
Lin had a good game with 18 points as he easily got to the paint when he had the ball, finishing with 9-of-10 from the line. But he played only 27 minutes, getting only five minutes in the fourth quarter. Even when on the floor, too many times he should have had the ball or a touch and didn’t get it. Byron Scott might be the head coach, but Bryant is running this show like a power-hungry dictator, and no one is stopping him from getting his shots or reaching the point production he set out to get.
With all of these problems, the Lakers were still in the game until the end. The Suns picked up their intensity late in the game, overcoming their rebounding problem (allowing 18 offensive boards) and getting an excellent performance from the bench, as Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green combined to score 48 points, while Markieff Morris continues his excellent season, scoring 23. They let Bryant have his shots, but made sure he kept it about himself instead of deferring to the supporting cast.
The Lakers bench had no such help or solution. Ronnie Price is the point guard, and he probably wouldn’t make the roster on most NBA teams. For the Lakers, he’s playing 22 minutes. Ryan Kelly played for the first time this season. Wayne Ellington can help out from time to time, just like Ed Davis. But Julius Randle is out for the season. Nick Young is still injured. Xavier Henry didn’t play, still overcoming surgery. The Lakers just have too little to throw out there.
Not the worst team in the league, but it seems like the Lakers don’t know how to manage their current situation. Jeremy Lin has been very up and down this season, but their best game came when he saw a lot of the ball in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The motivation and individual goals of Kobe Bryant should be questioned: He might care more about solidifying his scoring legacy and getting closer to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then winning on a team he doesn’t believe in. Right now, his coach can’t do anything about it.