The Los Angeles Lakers might win a game or two here and there, but overall, the purpose of this season is split into two: Keep Kobe Bryant happy as he tries to solidify the worst shooting season in modern NBA history and lose as much as possible so they keep a draft pick from escaping them to the Philadelphia 76ers.
They’re doing fine so far, keeping the right kind of pace for both set goals in a 100-87 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. It drops the Lakers to 3-16 this season, allowing easy points for the Hawks with that horrendous defense of theirs and scoring just 8 points on fast breaks. How can you when Bryant is playing for 35 minutes, and has a usage ratio that’s not far from 40% higher than the next player on the list, Lou Williams so far this season? He led the Lakers in that category again in this game, just above D’Angelo Russell, who does some nice things when he’s able of holding on to the ball (7 turnovers).
Bryant didn’t let the 31 point performance in Washington have any effect on him. He went back to missing like there’s no tomorrow, scoring 14 points on 4-of-19 from the field, including two 3-pointers. Bryant took just one shot from inside the paint. It’s quite incredible to see him talk about certain things and then perform something entirely different during game time. He’s actually changed since officially announcing his retirement: He no longer promises things he cannot keep.
Anything good for the Lakers to go on? Russell scoring 16 points? OK. Clarkson finishing with 13 in 29 minutes while shooting 5-of-8 from the field? Lou Williams scoring 18 points? Maybe, although it doesn’t matter. He has nothing to do with the franchise’s future. A franchise on hiatus until a certain someone decides it’s enough for him. Byron Scott crosses his arms and thinks about how he’s going to pay Bryant compliments while blaming the bad things on the rest. It’s not a difficult job being a tank commander on the Lakers. Scott is the perfect fall guy to enable Bryant, who played 35 minutes and looks fresh as a daisy knowing he’s allowed to do anything he wants, even if he’s terrible at it.