The Los Angeles Lakers are back to their losing ways, getting beat 107-102 by the much better Memphis Grizzlies. Kobe Bryant broke the all-time missed field goals record, ignoring the lessons from previous games and refusing to give Jeremy Lin a chance to do a lot more on the court and help him out.
Bryant shot 10-of-26 from the field, making it his third consecutive game of shooting below 40% from the field and fourth in a row of attempting at least 20 field goals. He did score a game high 28 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals, but like almost every game this season has showed, the Lakers aren’t better for Bryant taking so many shots, especially in the fourth quarter when he ignores open players and backs himself into tough corners, taking fade away jumpers while being doubled up.
It was a pretty good game for Carlos Boozer with 20 points and 8 rebounds, but he fouled out. The entire Lakers lineup finished in double figures, as Wesley Johnson had 15 points, Jordan Hill finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds while Jeremy Lin, who should be taking at least 12 shots a game and being a lot more aggressive with the ball, not to mention getting more touches, was just 4-of-8 from the field to score 12 points.
Now this wasn’t Lin’s best game ever anyway, and the Lakers actually looked better when he was off the court. But that comes with the way he’s being used. There’s this rumor going around that Bryant is asking Byron Scott to play Lin more minutes. But while he might prefer having Lin by his side to Ronnie Price, Jordan Clarkson or any other creative combination Scott might think of, Bryant seems to forget who was the team’s best player during their only win of the season so far.
Short memories, big egos, and it doesn’t look like the Lakers are a team learning from their mistakes and positives. The defense is an issue that’s going to be a part of this entire season. Bryant might have gotten steals but just like the rest of his teammates, he is often easy to blow by around the edges and contributes almost nothing in their poor attempts of showing some transition defense. The Grizzlies, a pretty bad shooting team, finished with 52.6% from the field, and the Lakers as of now are giving up more points than anyone in the league: 111.9 per game.
Conley with 23 points, Courtney Lee with 15 points and Beno Udrih off the bench scoring 16 points led the Grizzlies as they improved to 7-1, including 3-0 at home, despite only 19 points combined from Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Their notorious defense wasn’t good enough to really slow down the Lakers, but it never felt like they were about to lose the game. The Lakers right now aren’t good enough, especially with their hero-ball offensive system, to beat teams like the Grizzlies, especially on the road.
One win didn’t change the trend for the Lakers, or give Bryant any indication of what he’s doing wrong. To him, the injuries, the fouls to Lin and Boozer and the overall situation is just an incentive for him to keep on shooting. He might feel a bit more inclined earlier in the game to make others feel involved, but that’s out of the question later in the game. Most of the time, keeping other players and especially Lin out of the loop is going to cost the Lakers games.