The Los Angeles Lakers got Jeremy Lin back but it didn’t make much of a difference. Because he’s not 100%, not yet, and their opponents, the New Orleans Pelicans, actually needed the win.
Lin missed a couple of games with an upper respiratory infection, and later said that he didn’t feel strong enough or explosive enough. He finished with 10 points and 3 assists, shooting just 3-of-10 from the field. Without Lin being able to be the game changer he has often been when given the opportunity, the Lakers had no way of keeping up with the Pelicans, still fighting to make the playoffs.
I feel OK. After some time off, I am trying to get myself and my body ready. Tonight I just didn’t have that much explosiveness. I’m still fighting, and it’s still lingering. This thing’s annoying.
There’s also a small matter of defense, which is something the Lakers don’t know how to do. Byron Scott may be taking hidden shots (not hiding them too cleverly, which goes along with his style of coaching) at his players for their quality, but you don’t need the best players in the world to defend properly. It does take some sort of coaching attributes and abilities that Scott doesn’t have and maybe never did.
Anthony Davis scored 20 points to lead the Pelicans who are now 1.5 games behind the Thunder, winning three in a row to put themselves in this position. The problem with getting that final playoff spot? Their remaining schedule. Of their remaining eight games, only on the road against the Kings and the Timberwolves seems relatively easy. The rest? At Portland, home with Golden State, at Memphis, home to Phoenix, at Houston and home to San Antonio. Brutal.
Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points, not given the opportunity to ruin the tanking plans of his coach and team owners in a one sided affair that was decided midway through the third quarter, resulting in a 113-92 win over the Pelicans. Tarik Black had a rare outing in which he looked a competent offensive player with 16 points. Working with him on that side of his game can make him into a very useful player in this league, showing some promise during his rookie season. Scott probably isn’t the man to do it.
The Lakers will look better regardless of their opponent when Lin feels a bit stronger, which might take a few more days. But with the Lakers’ fans suddenly worried about finishing in the bottom three if possible and the owners probably pressuring Scott to deliver results, which means losing, don’t be surprised to suddenly see Lin and Clarkson out of the lineup in weird moments in order to make sure they don’t interfere.