The Los Angeles Lakers are hitting new lows with every game that goes by, as Jeremy Lin tries to somehow make the best of an awful situation in which he plays for a tanking team, a joke of a coach in Byron Scott and knowing that he still has more than 30 games of this s!#^.
You can learn all you need about what Byron Scott is trying to do, part of it through benching Lin as much as possible, from another ingenious substitution in the first half. Lin wasn’t at his best, but he helped the Lakers bring down the Cavs lead to 41-44. He didn’t look tired, exhausted or out of sync with anyone. With 6:03 on the clock in the half, Scott takes him out in favor of Jordan Clarkson, the young player the Lakers are trying to push and build on so much.
The end result? The Lakers go down behind by 15 points at half time, and that’s that. This isn’t the first time the team plays well with Lin and Scott makes a weirdly timed substitution to take him out and put Clarkson back in the game. Don’t be fooled by Clarkson putting up nice numbers from time to time, like his 20 points in 27 minutes. Just think about where Kendall Marshall is today and how impressive his assist numbers looked last season.
Lin, through head coaches trying to blatantly keep him down, is plowing through. It’s incredibly difficult, just like it is for other players. It’s the second season in a row Lin loses a starting spot for no good reason and has to deal with that on top of playing next to a shoot first, second and third guard (which is out for the season by now) and now even play on a team trying to lose as much as possible. Through it all, he’s doing quite nicely, considering the circumstances.
What’s quite nicely? Making the most of the minutes he’s given. Lin scored 11 points in 21 minutes with 5-of-9 from the field. Like Clarkson, he didn’t handle Kyrie Irving all that well, but on good games even the best defenders in the NBA won’t be able to slow down Irving. Defense, which Lin is better at than Clarkson, wasn’t the reason for once again playing too few minutes. It’s all about tanking and the priorities set by the Lakers for the rest of this season.
In the meantime, others aren’t handling the situation all that well. Nick Young, no longer having to worry about fighting his way for a contract, is in free fall, losing all swagger or respect from his coaches and even fans. He scored 8 points on 3-of-10 from the field and seems to be getting worse with every game that goes by. He shot only 32.2% from the field in January, averaging 13.2 points per game. This month he’s only making 28.6% of his shots.
Scott isn’t exactly helping trying to get his best scorer (potentially) back on track. Standing with his arms crossed and making inexplicable decisions when it comes to playing time for certain players, as if he’s doing his best to kill all chances of momentum isn’t going to help the Lakers at least show some respectability through this losing process, that seems to be the goal for the head brass. This is tanking at its finest: Giving a useless coach a job on the sidelines to play inferior players as much as possible.
This doesn’t have a happy ending. The Lakers don’t look like a team that are coming together through adversity. The chemistry we saw between players earlier this season has disappeared as if a guided hand simply snatched it away. They’ve created a D-League situation, as if it’s every man for himself in an attempt to win a contract for next season. Even losing on purpose can be handled a bit better, searching for ways to improve. This is a walking, talking, embarrassing disaster, with Scott’s name written all over it. He’s not alone in this, but he’s a huge culprit.