Either the Los Angeles Lakers are a bad team with a bad head coach in Byron Scott, or this is a serious tank job. Kobe Bryant only shoots with his left hand? Jeremy Lin once again playing less than the D-League miracle known as Ronnie Price, and overall dubious decisions that makes it seem like this team is losing on purpose.
This time? It’s 96-80 to the New Orleans Pelicans, with Anthony Davis coming alive in the second half, finishing with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. The Lakers have no one to guard him, but there’s no reason they should be shooting 36.4% from the field and scoring only 80 points. But when you’ve been following this team all season long, it’s not that surprising to see them hit new lows on a weekly basis, sometimes winning but not really making a change in direction.
If keeping Bryant healthy is so important, why let him play with a bad right shoulder, forcing him to shoot with his weaker hand? Bryant wasn’t bad, with 14 points on 6-of-14 from the field. He has been worse. But his defense didn’t exist, and overall his appearance in the fourth quarter was forgettable, not to mention actually hurting his own team. But Bryant is on a different plain of existence, punishment and reward. Nothing that Scott decides about him makes a lot of sense.
Lin played 21 minutes, scored 7 points, adding four steals. This season is another example of how the perception of his bad defense is a myth buried two or three years ago. But Lin seems to suffer from previous opinions and decisions made about him. He has also been inconsistent in his performances, but the Lakers are almost always better off with him on the floor. Is the tanking job that serious? That much of an issue?
One bad offensive stretch from the Lakers in the fourth quarter cost them the game. It took them almost four minutes to score a single point while the Pelicans opened up a nine point lead, and when the points started coming, it was a bit too late. Taking out Jeremy Lin seemed to be the answer for Byron Scott, who doesn’t like seeing Lin on the floor late in the game over the last two weeks. Introducing Kobe Bryant to the game didn’t change anything, as the Pelicans kept drifting away out of reach.
Lin played 21 minutes, with the Lakers losing by two during his minutes. Obviously, not every aspect of the +/- has something to do with the player himself, but Byron Scott doesn’t change. Lin gets punished when things don’t go well, regardless of how he was individually in that span and whether or not his abilities (take a guess: he can) can help the Lakers maybe win the game or make things closer. Instead, Ronnie Price, in all his two-point glory, continues to play more minutes than him despite being a vastly inferior player.
As a team, playing badly works for the Lakers. The organization needs a reset. It also needs to sever its ties with Kobe Bryant, but that’s not happening. Meanwhile, good players like Lin (but not him alone) get turned into role players just because it fits this losing strategy. Or maybe it’s just a personal issue for Scott with Lin, not liking him from the start. It sucks to have this bad of a coach hurting your career, but Lin needs to do a bit more with the poor cards he has been dealt. He has no choice.