The approach Kobe Bryant is taking this season is helping send the Los Angeles Lakers to new depths of failure, losing 109-102 and falling for a seventh time in eight games, this time to the New Orleans Pelicans. Jeremy Lin is limited in his ability to help out, and seems to be slowly catching on to the afflictions the rest of the team is suffering from.
Bryant shot 10-of-28 from the field, scoring 33 points. The record of field goal misses, his own team’s poor performance and the terrible kind of basketball the Lakers are playing when Bryant goes into that mode seems to go completely above his head. Bryant keeps on doing the same thing, which every team in the NBA knows is going to happen. He’s down to 38.8% from the field but hey, at least he’s getting closer to Michael Jordan on the all-time career scoring list, the thing I suspect Bryant only cares about anymore.
Jeremy Lin shot 4-of-11 from the field to finish with 15 points. Not a bad game, but not a very good one. He goes through the motions in terms of aggressiveness on the court and assertiveness. Overall, the Lakers look like a team that simply moving the ball around until it gets to Bryant himself, and let him decide what to do with it. The best basketball from them this season has come when Bryant was just one among equals, not the first and only among servants.
The Pelicans found two things very easy: Letting Bryant do his thing, which is mostly miss shots these days (although he did have a nice sequence of back-to-back 3-pointers), and attack the paint. The Lakers can’t defend the rim, and allowed 60 points in the paint, as Anthony Davis was the main benefactor, scoring 25 points. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday followed suit, scoring 19 and 17 respectively.
Defense was a huge problem for the Los Angeles Lakers under Mike D’Antonio, and it continues to be under Byron Scott. The Lakers are giving up an NBA-worst 111.5 points per game. Even when you translate the numbers into efficiency, it’s not hard to see things are bad: The Lakers are allowing an NBA wore 49.8% from the field and they’re also the worst in the league when it comes to per possession, giving up 114.4 points per 100 possession.
Byron Scott suggests that he’ll give the team a few more games to try and run through his system before changing things. At 1-7, it might be too late. Kobe Bryant, like all through this miserable start to the season, doesn’t seem to worried. He hasn’t been worried about defense at all for a number of years, so it’s not surprising. His suggestion? Clog the paint, and things will turn out for the best. If it was only that simple.
The Lakers narrowed down the lead to only 3 points in the third quarter, as Jeremy Lin hit a huge three. However, the Pelicans went on a 22-12 after that to pretty much close out the game, lacking any kind of suspense as to the result in the fourth quarter. Kobe Bryant tried to keep his team in that run, but ended the third quarter with a series of misses, going into the known mood of his, when a voice tells him it’s up to him and him alone.
That approach, along with an overall bad roster and even worse defense, is what’s been dragging the Lakers to new depths with each game that goes by.