Following a 118-111 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers are still without a win this season. But for the first time since it began, they looked like a capable team offensively, that doesn’t only rely on Kobe Bryant to create offense. Putting the ball in the hands of Jeremy Lin worked wonders, up to a point.
Bryant finished with 21 points and 7 assists, but tried to do a bit too much on his own during the fourth quarter, hitting just 1-of-7 shots, six of them being contested. It’s not like Bryant to try and find a better looking shot. He’ll just try to show the world he’s still the same player he was two or three years ago, and take on the challenge. The Clippers kept rotating defenders on him and Chris Paul especially had a lot of success guarding him.
Beyond the offensive problems, defense, with or without the missing players, is a huge problem for the Los Angeles Lakers. Blake Griffin scored 39 points and had his way in the paint with 18 points near the basket, as the Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer combination didn’t do a lot to stop him. DeAndre Jordan, with four offensive rebounds and 11 points on 5-of-5 for the field had no problem scoring points when getting touches near the rim.
But while Byron Scott tires to figure out how to fix something that’s almost impossible to fundamentally fix from what we’ve seen in Lakers team over the last three seasons, the offense is shaping up and getting comfortable. Bryant took only eight shots through the first three quarters and that was excellent for the Lakers. Jeremy Lin, scoring 17 points and added 9 assists, his best game for his new team, finally took a big part of the offense, playing 35 minutes, and maybe a bit more of him in the fourth quarter would have prevented the big collapse.
We talked through some things and tried to open it up a little bit tonight. We tried to get everything moving and the ball popping. We learned to trust each other more. We’re growing and figuring out to trust each other the right way. Just trying to create and attack and make as many plays as possible.
One issue is finding other offensive anchors. Carlos Boozer should be one, but he isn’t right now. A player who can do more than shoot the ball near the rim, Boozer seems to be losing confidence by the minute since being amnestied by the Chicago Bulls. Jordan Hill did score a team-high 23 points, but he’s not a very reliable option. From the bench, at the moment, there’s absolutely nothing. Maybe Ed Davis once in a while, maybe Xavier Henry as he comes back from his injury. Until Nick Young is healthy, it’s a very big problem.
This Lakers team isn’t as bad as it seemed to be in the losses to the Suns and Rockets that kicked off their season. They just need to find their way, and hope Kobe Bryant doesn’t interfere. He is the best player on the team, but that doesn’t mean everything should go through him. If anything, this moral victory taught them that handing Jeremy Lin shared responsibility might be the best way to ensure they don’t stay with zero wins for much longer.