Frustration, there’s no other word. Failure maybe, although the distance between fail and success is only measured by the record and playoff stage the Los Angeles Lakers will end up with when the season ends. There’s no doubt, regardless of still being in the first half of the season, that Kobe Bryant is realizing that the dream project isn’t taking off.
Kobe Bryant scored 36 points, again. The Los Angeles Lakers lost, at home, again. They are now 15-16, 10-7 at home. Bryant has scored 27 points or more for 15 consecutive games, leading the NBA with 30.3 points per game. During this stretch, the Lakers are 7-8. Regardless of his own effect on the game, the Lakers can’t seem to get it going. Even when they went on a five game winning streak to bring them back into a respectable position, it hasn’t been able to push them into another level. Despite the All-Star caliber talent on this team, maybe their age is too much of a factor.
Especially when the bench is only three players long. In the 103-99 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, definitely a team that can out run the Lakers if that kind of game develops, with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner setting the tone, only Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks came off the bench. Kobe Bryant played 42 minutes. Steve Nash had to play 36. While their offensive numbers remain impressive, scoring 99 points or more in nine consecutive games, their defense can’t keep up the pace.
One of the best examples was on one of Bryant’s best moves of the night. A baseline spin and tough layup which saw him sprawled on the floor after making the two. The 76ers didn’t wait, and just raced ahead to score two points without the Lakers really prepared to defend four-on-five. Bryant didn’t make it back on time. He wasn’t exactly racing back either.
We’re old as s^&$! We just got to figure out how to play when we don’t have that energy. We got to change things up a little bit defensively. We got to figure out what we want to do offensively, figure out what we want to do on nights when we don’t have those legs or have that energy.
You just saw an old damn team. I don’t know how else to put it to you. We’re just slow. You saw a team over there that was just younger and just had fresher legs and just played with more energy, and we were just stuck in the mud. I think individually we all have to figure out how to get ourselves ready each and every game to have high level of energy. That’s all that is.
We didn’t seem to have any energy. You watch the game, we were kind of sluggish, kind of stuck in the mud. When we have games like that, everything is an uphill battle for us. When we play fresh, when we play energized, we’re a completely, completely different team. You saw a lot of those shots tonight falling short, for whatever reason. We got to get the proper rest and get ready for Friday.
For some reason, we feel like we’ve heard this before. After the disappointing start under Mike Brown, Bryant kept talking about the time the Lakers need to pull it together. Than Brown was fired, and they needed more time to adjust to Mike D’Antoni’s new system. Then waiting for Steve Nash to return. It doesn’t look like they’re having too much problems getting it together on offense, but when Metta World Peace attempts 17 field goals, finishing with 35.2% from the field, it’s hard to expect to win on top of all the other problems.
The Lakers and especially Bryant keep talking about energy. Mike D’Antoni, not exactly in a power position at the franchise, can’t talk about anyone personalty, obviously not to the media. What we do know is this – The Lakers are in the top in the NBA when it comes to FG% and points per shot. On the other side of the floor, they’re giving up 100.3 points per game (25th in the NBA) and are in the bottom half of the league when it comes to field goal percentage allowed.
Their offense is good, but it’s is playing in a pace these guys can’t keep up with. Kobe Bryant doesn’t trust the guys around him to make shots or win games without him taking 24 shots or more per game. Since December began, Bryant has taken less than 24 field goal attempts only three times. Coincidentally, they all were wins. Is it really that simple?