For the sixth straight time, the Lakers lost on the road. Old, slow, out-coached outplayed, call it whatever you like. The next to torture the bunch that is Kobe Bryant and other superstars like Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash were the Chicago Bulls, who aren’t that even good at home on most nights.
Against the Lakers, everything works. Kirk Hinrich played like these were the Scott Skiles days; point guard tend to find a lot of room against the Lakers and especially Steve Nash, as that defense keeps breaking down because Dwight Howard has to chase someone away from the pain, leaving holes his teammates can’t fill. Hinrich scored 22 points, adding 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Hinrich is averaging only 6.7 points per game this season and hasn’t scored in double figures since January 4.
We’re going to have to look at some things. We’re going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That’s just my intuition, but that’s my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we’re definitely going to have to change something.
When Kobe Bryant starts using this tone, head coaches need to watch out. Mike D’Antoni hasn’t been on the job long, but he’s a -7 when it comes to wins and losses, and Bryant is a much more powerful person in the organization than he is. It’s not saying that Bryant had a good game: He had another rough shooting night (7-22), scoring 16 points. He’s shooting 32.4% from the field on the Lakers’ recent losing streak (3 games), but he’s not the only problem.
The Lakers feared the Bulls’ front line for good reason – Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Carlos Boozer dominated the paint. They didn’t score much, but combined for 12 offensive rebounds, making life very hard for Earl Clark and Dwight Howard, especially for Howard, who needs to cover for players missing assignments and got into foul trouble, playing only 30 minutes and picked up 5 personal fouls. He scored only 8 points on a 2-5 night from the field.
And while the Lakers’ bench, despite Pau Gasol coming off it and scored 15 points, looked like complete desert wilderness, the Bulls looked boring, but the effective kind of boring. Great defense, keeping the Lakers on 83 points and 39.5% from the field, being the next team to beat the Lakers in the turnovers battle, forcing 15 from the team that should have been romping through the West according to some preseason predictions.
The Bulls are who we think they were – a very good defensive team who look awful on offense sometimes, but get just about enough second chance opportunities while relying on the occasional big game from Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng to get by in the East. The Lakers are somewhere between a tragedy and a joke, in which you don’t know who the villains are and who the tragic characters are, with the blame and responsibility for each loss shifting to someone else.
…The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them… That seems to be the case with Kobe Bryant this season, who keeps talking about the team’s problems, but never once mentions himself as being part of it because of the way he plays basketball.