The joke that is Kobe Bryant in the 2014-2015 NBA season continues to set new records (or depths) of bad taste with a catastrophic and selfish performance, costing the Los Angeles Lakers the game against the Sacramento Kings. Jeremy Lin, left to fend for shots and possessions between the all mighty dictator and Nick Young, can’t really succeed in what Byron Scott is giving him.
The Lakers lost 108-101 to the Sacramento Kings. The only way for the Lakers to win this season is play like a team because when it comes to individual talent, they’re inferior to almost every team in the league. The problem is the construct was the presence of Kobe Bryant. His ego, his goals. He’s working and playing on a different plain of existence and motivation. The heart of the team supposedly, and it’s beating to a whole different drum than the rest of his teammates.
Bryant shot just 8-of-30 from the field. He turned the ball over nine times. He kept shooting and making bad decision one after the other. He held up play and made it easy for the Kings to play defense. It’s funny to say and probably blasphemy to some Lakers fans, but the team would have done better without him on the court. If Bryant decides he’s willing to actually play basketball and not some twisted version of the sport he has going on in his mind, than fine. But like this? The Lakers don’t benefit a single thing from him tossing up contested shots one after the other.
Nick Young scored 26 points including four 3-pointers, but with Bryant playing 38 minutes, there were very few moments for Lakers players to actually feel like they’re in a basketball game they’re a part of. Lin spent only 21 minutes on the floor (less than Ronnie Price again!!!), finishing with just four points and five assists. When you take three shots a game and so few balls go your way, it’s hard to really make a difference.
The Kings, once again playing with DeMarcus Cousins, should really stop thinking about that idiotic potential Deron Williams trade. Cousins led the way with 29 points, Rudy Gay added 24, Ben McLemore scored 23 and Darren Collison, as all point guards thrive against the no-defense the Lakers present, finished with 19 points. The Kings have bad contracts they need to get rid of, but taking on someone like Williams is setting themselves back a couple of years.
When a team is this bad, this undisciplined and prone to these streaks of selfishness, the coaching staff is often to blame. Byron Scott looks helpless, because he and his assistant have one constant they can’t change: Kobe Bryant will play as much as he wants and do whatever he wants on the floor. If Bryant was the same player he was from a few years ago, maybe there was an easy way around it.
But when the Lakers are short on talent and confidence, having such a huge chunk of your shots and time of play being wasted on a player who doesn’t actually care about the end result, instead worried about the number of points he leaves the game is the perfect recipe for a loss. Not showing any kind of cohesiveness defensively or on offensive possessions is another example of the zero work done to improve this team beyond simply signing players and moving them around in the rotation.