Kobe, Lakers Still Need Plenty Of Work




VIDEO: The Lakers cannot find the mark and get worked by the Hawks

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You don’t need a CSI kit to figure out that these aren’t the Los Angeles Lakers of old. They look more like the old beat up Lakers right now, a team totally incapable of mustering enough healthy bodies, energy or effort to fight off an elite team, let alone a decent team like the Atlanta Hawks.

The mirage that has been the Lakers’ season thus far, with and without Kobe Bryant, is coming into focus now and it’s not nearly as inspiring as it might have seemed as recently as three weeks ago, when Mike D’Antoni was pushing buttons on a feisty crew of underdogs, yes underdogs, as they awaited Kobe’s return from Achilles surgery and the months of rehab that followed.

These Lakers aren’t big enough, strong enough and don’t have enough of the star power they are used to (at least not healthy) to even utter the words “championship contender” right now. And it was all on display Monday night at Philips Arena, when the Hawks pawed at a listless and defenseless Lakers team early and then slapped them around after halftime before finishing with a season-high 114 points in the win.

They need work, and plenty of it, before anyone starts talking about them being anything but what they are at this moment, and that’s a flawed crew on the far side of the playoff bubble in the rugged Western Conference.

“That’s you guys talking about June,” D’Antoni said. “Right now we’re just trying to win a game.”

When Elton Brand swats three shots, before halftime mind you, as the Hawks’ frontcourt crew of Al Horford (19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists), Paul Millsap (18, nine and four steals) and Brand (eight points and seven rebounds to go along with his blocks) stalemate your frontcourt of Pau Gasol, Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill the way they did, it makes Kobe’s and hence the Lakers’ struggles understandable.

Sure, Bryant shot just 4-for-14 from the floor, turned the ball over way too much (five) and didn’t make up for it with another double-digit assist night, not with the Hawks’ energetic DeMarre Carroll doing his best Raja Bell impersonation for much of the night. But it’s also clear that he doesn’t have the sort of help that will allow him to work his way through these tough nights as he gets his body back into the type of shape he’s used to. He’s playing out of position at point guard, while Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all nurse injuries.

The Hawks didn’t have to say it but it was obvious, with Kobe as their point guard the Lakers are much easier to figure out than when he’s in his normal role at shooting guard. Kobe cannot take advantage of defenders in the post and work them around screens when he’s running the show, when he’s responsible for making sure Gasol, Hill, Jodie Meeks and others get into the flow of games.

“They were picking Kobe up full court and making him work,” D’Antoni said, “so we didn’t create any motion or movement or energy for ourselves. we have to make sure we continue to get motion.”

Bryant will be back at the controls Tuesday night in Memphis. He’ll have to drag his tired body back out on the floor on just a few hours’ rest and then chase Mike Conley around as best he can.

“The back-to-backs are always tough,” Bryant said. “I just have to get ready, I have to do whatever is necessary to get ready for the next night and get right back out there.”

That’s much easier said than done when your body betrays your natural instincts and the things you have conditioned it to do the past two decades. As Bryant admitted, this is a new process for him, trying to find his way back to normal from his injury. It’s not like anything he has dealt with before.

“Every night is like a different puzzle,” Bryant said. “So every night you have to try and problem solve.”

He also has to take mental notes of his own, as he’s learning what does and does not work for him on this journey back to the Kobe Bean Bryant everyone is used to seeing.

“It’s tough to say,” he said, “because there are certain things I feel like I can do and there are other things I can’t do, but I feel like they are coming. You have to be patient and keep your eye on the big picture and continue to work and get stronger.”

Kobe’s foot and ankle were immobile for so long that there is still some physical discomfort that he’ll have to endure until those issues dissipate.

“The next level of progression is playing these games when you sit back out, get back in, is keeping it loose,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time. You increase the activity, the ankle gets used to it a little more.

“I’ve just got to keep my eye on the big picture and focus on getting better.”

That’s also why he’s not ready to panic about the Lakers’ 11-13 record nine days before Christmas. This is not the same train ride the Lakers were on last year, when D’Antoni, Gasol, Dwight Howard, Nash and Bryant couldn’t steer clear of the mess as they careened on and off the tracks nearly all season long.

Any rumblings about the Lakers’ front office pressing the reset button and making a trade to shake things up are things Kobe does not plan on worrying  about right now.

“That call is completely up to them (the front office),” he said of making a call on any potential moves that could be made. “As a player, you rely on experience and the years that we’ve had slow starts. I just try to stay focused on that. Last year, it was really, really dire straits. And this doesn’t feel like this is that type of situation. You know, I don’t really sweat it too much. There are certain things we can correct and fix and a lot of it starts with me and getting healthy. And I’ll get there. And I’ll be able to control things a lot more. But I don’t really trip over it much. As players we’ve got to stay focused on what we do, and management obviously has to do the same thing on their end.”

In the meantime, the Lakers would be wise to keep their heads down, keep working and pray for some good fortune on the health front. Who knows what else the next few weeks might bring?

61 Comments

  1. D1 says:

    Lakers need to GET RID OF KOBE GREEDY BEAN HEAD…trade Gasol for Bosh of the heat.

  2. kekekeke says:

    Like any other coach would have done better with what the lakers has than D’antoni, Until kobe returned lakers were at .500 nobody expected them to be, and they were playing some good ball at home. all of you laker fanboys just think firing D’antoni will make you much better, are delusional.

  3. K B says:

    I’m just surprised after last year Mike D’Antoni is still the head coach. You people are crying about firing Kobe.. he has been the heart of the Lakers for about 20 years now. Yeah he is nearing retirement and I do agree that he should only be put in for limited min and someone else needs to step up to be PG because lets face it Kobe is better off in the SG position and let the bench play more because they are out performing the starters.. but a lot of the problem is the coach and his system just doesn’t work for the Lakers. We need to start looking at trades to better our defense because our defense is one of the worst. Also the turnovers are way too much and that needs to be addressed too.

  4. Jill says:

    Be realistic!!!! 42 million dollars for the next 2 years for a player that is throwing bricks. Can you imagine what can you buy for that money? Kobe needs to go. Bring young talent with the money invested in Kobe

  5. KeCe.. says:

    Lakers don’t need to do anything. This year is a one to waste no matter what…. Offcourse they can’t compete @ high level. Banged up roster with lots of mediocore players. I’m even surprised they got the record they have so far :/

  6. M Farley says:

    The Lakers clearly are not aiming for championships anymore.They feel they can make more money on Kobe’s last 2 years on Cbale tv and advertising.Most of the board realizes this as signing an old Kobe for 2 more years makes no sense (if a championship is your goal that is).

  7. Lakers Resurrection says:

    Just horrible. I see a Lakers organization that has put all of their stock in a 35 year old post injury star who by all means is not getting any younger. Kobe Bryant is an amazing playing and I will definitely not try to take anything away from the guy but he’s fading and the organization isn’t doing him any favors by throwing more money at him because at the end of the day he’s only one person and he needs help. Bryant was proud of his ridiculous $48 million 2 year extension seeing absolutely nothing wrong with it. He was quick to defend the Lakers organization by stating that the franchise knows how to take care of their players but while the Lakers are busy taking care of Kobe Bryant financially by subsidizing a luxurious lifestyle for him off the court who is taking care of the Lakers’ back court issues and preserving their right to be championship contenders? As talented as Bryant is, why was it a good idea to buy him at an extremely high price for 2 more years and overall neglect to use those funds appropriately in order to build a formidable team? Ever since Jerry Buss stepped down as sole decision maker of the franchise we’ve been left with the disturbing aftermath of questionable deals, contracts, and lack-luster trades. Mike D’Antoni is not the hall-of-fame coach that will take L.A all the way… he is sub-par at best and why he’s still coaching the Lakers is nothing short of perplexing to me.

    • Knowledge says:

      Congratulations, you are a true Lakers fan and I salute you for it. There aren’t many like you. It sometimes seems like I can never find a reasonable Lakers fan to represent their team and it worries me, but you have reaffirmed my beliefs that they do exist and just happened to be buried under Stupid Mountain.

  8. Caldron Pool says:

    The Lakers are in a tough spot. No good draft picks for the next several seasons – which is tragic considering that because they are so bad those picks they traded away are going to turn out to be high picks. They probably thought they were trading away #30 picks – those might end up as top 10 picks instead. They are going to have wiggle room with the cap after this season, but they wasted a max contract on Kobe who will only play like an average / decent veteran for the rest of his career. They are now supposed to convince some superstar / game changer to commit to a rebuilding process with an old max-contract Kobe? It doesn’t make sense. They were doing respectably with Young, Meeks, Henry, Hill, Sacre, Johnson – they should just reset and try adding to a young core. Keep the salary down, when the right opportunity / player presents itself, grab it.

    If I were the GM I would try to make Kevin Love and offer he can’t refuse, but he isn’t some magic bullet that can bring it all together. I think its time everybody acknowledges the real problem – KUPCHAK. He is the one who masterminded the situation they are in now. He dismantled the team anticipating acquiring Howard – who tanked – and this is the aftermath. No draft picks, free agents that left for better situations. He gambled big and lost. Howard was not worth the risk, he wasn’t even worth the trade of Bynum. D’Antoni I like, but there was no reason to can Mike Brown so quick. The whole Fisher for Sessions thing was a good idea, but to then just let Sessions walk to sign Nash was moronic. They acquired Sessions to get younger and faster at the point guard spot . . . . but then they replaced him with Nash who is slower and older than Fisher. So, essentially instead of getting younger and faster at PG they got older and slower with less defense and more injuries. Kupchak is the manager, he is in charge of thinking these things through.

    Kupchak always tries to trade and buy his way into success instead of drafting wisely. The Lakers won’t win another title for at least 10-15 years – barring some unforeseen drafting of an MJ, Shaq, LeBron type of prodigy, which probably won’t happen since they don’t have any good draft picks in the near future.

  9. uce says:

    The media blows every loss way out of proportion. Kobe has only been back less then a month so far, playing out of position and injuries are all factors. even with all these factors in their favor they arent a title contender, however if they improve their defense to at least medicore when compared to the rest of the L theyll be in playoff contention, theyre offense will come into its own theyll be fine on that end.

  10. abdul says:

    The truth hurts. im the number one Kobe fan, but I think he mess the chemistry of the team. The guys were playing really well before he came back. Kobe should be bench with limited minutes and Paul should start playing well and stop blaming the coach. His team was playing well before and good ball movement.

  11. Jesse says:

    The real trade should be Pau for Zack Randolph. That way Pau gets to play happy with this brother and the Grizzlies get rid of Zack. I would stay with Zack Randolph but If you dont think Zack is the player for you; trade him for Shumpert and Chandler then. That way at least you get a decent post defender.

  12. LakersFanForever says:

    i don’t think trading gasol for chandler and shumpert. gasol’s contarct is expiring this year by trading him for those 2 players lakers will loose the chance of signing carmelo this summer. chandler is a good defensive player but signing him won’t make the lakers a championship contender team. we came to this season knowing we won’t have a chance at winning a championship. If they are trading pau they should trade him for rando, and bring carmelo who will for sure leave the knicks this summer. imagine kobe, rando and carmelo playing together. carmelo and kobe are good friends, rando is a serious layer too. i don’t see why they won’t work out. the reason dwight didnt workout with LA was because he couldn’t get over the fact that his old team lost to lakers in finals of 2009, and we all know what type of a cry baby he is.

  13. lol says:

    Kobe wanted a max contract for THIS?!?!!? he cant play anymore OMG…he is even a bigger problem than D’antoni,trade Kobe Pau and fire D’antoni, lakers need a core rebuild.

  14. Destro says:

    From Lakers fan a cross Europe…D´Antoni out faster..

  15. Starlight says:

    Kobe Bryant is taking away minutes from more athletic players on the roster. Even Paul Pierce is coming off the bench for the Nets.

  16. hellon says:

    to lakers r tanking: As a fan of basketball,not only a single team…get real.How about getting ’80 Magic with Kareem and MJ with Pippen?Yeah and Robert Parish with Larry Bird off the bench?Oh,no time machine,aww that’s sad….and about as real as your suggestion…

  17. Nacho says:

    Blaming about Kobe? The real problem of this team is D´Antoni´s system and Nash´s injury. we need to get rid of Steve and get a new player, what about Sergio Llul, Real Madrid´s player? Kobe needs to get back to its real position Shooting Guard, and he will give many things to speak about. Lakers can still be a hard team if they start looking for new players around the world, and changing the system.

  18. lakers r tanking says:

    Lakers and Celtics and Rockets trade

    Lakers get Avery Bradly, Jeff Green, Omer Asik

    Rockets get celtics two first round pick and get gerald wallace, courtney lee,

    Celtics get (expiring contract) Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman and get rid of bad contracts of Wallace and Lee

    • troy says:

      hilarious! i love fake lakers trades! lakers fans crack me up. everytime the lakers give up garbage and get young starters back. let me tell you, celtics are NOT trading bradley or green. moreover they are certainly NOT giving away first round picks. why the heck would they want pau? in case you havent noticed, they are tanking.

      • Cal says:

        Thats exactly why. Have you seen Gasol play this year. He still capable in the right system, but he wouldn’t win Boston any games. In fact – Bradley and Green and + Gasol. Boston loses at least 5 more games than otherwise

      • Pakyaw says:

        Why they can’t just accept the fact that the lakers is no longer an elite team.. Ohhh!.. That’s right.. They still livin in the past…

  19. lakerslakerslakers says:

    its not the coach. it’s the PG situation. without a good point guard they won’t win too many games. the nash situtation is ridiculous. he needs to throw in the towel. because of him they played blake and farmar wayy too much and now they’re out…..they were carrying the team. kobe needs to get back in tune. lakers will always attract attention and headlines but people need to look at teams that have talent that are screwing up big time like golden state.

  20. patrickmarc says:

    Too many injuries everywhere, much more than before may be.
    It’s hard for a coach to built something.
    Rose is out, now the coach is thinking very much when his team loose.

    D’Antoni was waiting for the boss, to built a special machine to win.
    But steve Blake is not ready. Nash out.
    Kobe will be Kobe in three weeks,
    and frustration again, and patience they need.

  21. lakers gaza says:

    fire mike dumtoni he got only one way to play even though its not working hes too dum to change things

  22. josip says:

    i love pau but he is crying about the coach and complaining about not getting to his spot. i hate dantoni but he is right pau needs to play harder and with more heart and toughness.

  23. Vino4ever says:

    Lakers have not been consistent since last year, they need better perimeter defenders since kobe as great as he is ,cannot defend the for 48 minutes the superstar of the other team. Also the lakers need variety and post up more. Sure Pau Gasol is not the player he used to be, but he still has the skill set to produce. Bench has been an improvement it’s really the starting 5 that needs some work, they lack defensive consistency and offensive variety.

  24. Big nba fan says:

    Just fire the rubbish coach, you have to play with what you have on the table not force everyone to change their game and play the way you wanted, unless the management get the players he desire. Stupid coach.

  25. Joeblow says:

    As a huge lakers fan. They didn’t come out of the gates strong. The win over the clippers was cool. Then after that they started losing more than winning but then they started to come together. The turning point was when Kobe came back. Before that they were 6-2 in the last eight games. I guarantee you they would’ve won those home games against PHX and TOR. Heck we almost beat the Blazer’s. I believe we probably could’ve beat OKC. It’s Kobe I knew this was going to happen when he got back. His personality has totally shifted this team of young energetic players.

  26. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    You guys weren’t screaming “FIRE MIKE DANTONI” when they were at 50% and playing well.
    Kobe is never the problem, right?

    • ImJusSayin says:

      Antoni is an idiot I have wondered why he was hired from day 1. When your bench is better then the starters shouldn’t that be the first sign? Push the players to play at the edge of their ability or bench and wonder what the injuries are about. Now for everyone blaming Kobe look in the mirror realize your a hater and get over it, it has more to do with not having a true PG that is healthy than KB retuning. I could utilize the talent better then Antoni any day of the week. He is so bad i think he may be sabotaging the team for all the times they beat his Suns creations. Why else would you set plays for Hill whom needs to be free roaming to be effective or intentionally keep your bigs out of rebounding position for what? I refuse to give him his “D” but he has earned another one. Being together as a unit builds the chemistry to work a good defense but he can’t leave a group together even after wins.

  27. Kratanak says:

    FIRE MDA!!!! PLEASE!!!

  28. Accepting the truth says:

    Even though I am a Lakers fan, I recognize the truth – the problem is the ball hog – as someone before stated – he poisons the team chemistry because no one gets to touch the ball, except him, and sometimes Gasol. The other guys are just standing and watching, and once in a while get to shoot the ball from the perimeter. But when you just stand on the perimiter it takes away the joy of the game. You play worse defence, and shoot worse, becaue you are cold.
    The ball hog has poisoned everything! And he is averiging about 6 turonvers….. my gosh….
    And now D Antonio and Gasol are taking the blame…

    What happened to Meeks?? he was playing really well! What happened to Xavier Henry? Wesley Johnson?? THis ball hog is poisining everything

  29. guy says:

    i agree,, fire the coach, but also more player to helpd kobe and other, cause. the team are many weakness.. defence, and offence, we have not score more .. when we have the chance, that is also the problem…

  30. superballer says:

    I think that the La lakers biggest problem is D’ Antoni, his system is just not working.

  31. okc2014 says:

    While they are in rebuilding mode, they are no longer an elite team. So we need to stop calling them that. The article is correct. And it will be years before they become “elite” again. And by that time Kobe Bryant will be long gone. While they are paying him, and while he is wasting their time on the floor with his nonsense, they can’t even think about getting better. He and the Laker powers that be just hasn’t accepted that fact yet. I am certainly not a Laker fan, but I really hate that those really energetic rookies where doing so well while Kobe was out, and now the spotlight is back on him. Didn’t I say the Lakers would start losing once Kobe came back??

  32. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    The reality starts sinking in… They won’t reach the playoffs…

    Now let’s find someone to blame…

    We can’t blame Kobe, of course, he doesn’t do anything wrong…
    Has to be Dantoni or Pau…

    Seriously though, he is poison to team chemistry, maybe that’s why they call him the Black Mamba

  33. dustydreamnz says:

    How Kaman doesn’t get any mins I don’t know. Their record is close to .500, I thought at start of year it could be much worse. I think a new coach would turn them around somewhat.

    • Witness says:

      Exactly. Another real idiot move by Dumbtoni. His 8 and 5 in only 17 mins is actually really good that noones lookin at for some reason. Very logical to think if he was given 30 mins and his past history that Kaman wuld be a 13 and 9 or 10 guy. So just a real dumb move along with others that their idiot coach has done lately.

  34. Elysian says:

    Just get rid of Mike D’Anton, that´s the Lakers problem! imo

    • Denholm says:

      you could get a tandem of coaches from all ages in basketball history, they still wouldnt be able to fix the lakers woes… which is the fact that they committed half the team’s salary to a guy who is coming off an injury, who is a shadow of his former self and who is only interested in personal glory. AND WHO IS GOING TO RETIRE IN 2 YEARS!!!

      you want to know how to fix the lakers?
      get rid of kobe.

  35. jonski22 says:

    i love Lakers…i like Pau and what he brought to the team…but he is struggling big time…is it about trade rumors? not getting to post? not focusing? not healthy? not getting along with the coach?

    Also, i will blame Dumbtoni here..he got no point guard, and yet he doesn’t change the style of play, you cannot do pick and roll without a good PG…and yet he still wants to do it, hence it creates turn overs…why not focus on post play, even though Gasol is struggling, make a post play to Kobe, Sacre, Hill..or used Kaman (i think he is not injured now), or Wesley (i didn’t see Wesley vs the Hawks)…post plays create outside shots…..

    Anyway, hopefully they get their act together..and have a string of victories….Wins washes whatever bad situation they are having…

  36. MadLakerFan says:

    As a Laker fan, i try to be objective here. The main problem are the injuries you think? Well that is probably right, that ist a problem, but the main Problem ist the Coach. All the Lakers fans want D’Antoni to be fired immediately.
    Who in h. would play a player that suffered an achilles injury at the point where he has to chase the quick guards, sorry that ist total stupidity.

    The only trade that is required is the one you have to make at the coaching post!

    Jodie at the point and Kobe as SG at the moment !!!!

  37. Tonhenx says:

    Seriously? Who thought even for a minute that the Lakers will be a threat this season? I mean except for coach “BurnGasolforeverymistake”. Trade Pau to the Grizz for young talent and let them develop into something that could be a good team. Los Angeles is now Clipperland, they ARE threat!

  38. firemikedantoni says:

    FIRE MIKE D’ANTONI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. CHINA MAN says:

    Get chadler and emma to gasol or amare to gasol with emma

  40. jumppong says:

    sign shanon brown to play at point.. and sign kwame brown and waive Sacre..

  41. patrickmarc says:

    Lakers are starting something now , they where not organised yet.
    Kaman is not playing ? is he too soft ?
    Lakers’s defence seems not ready to stop big teams

  42. Lakers Fans says:

    lakers still needs mamba be a scorer and needs more improve in offence mostly in Defence .

  43. SugaSugamakesnosense says:

    Chill out. Kobe has carried this team for almost 20 years. Let the front office start the rebuilding process Xavier, Jordan Hill, and Sacre, while Kobe prepares to retire. Mamba and Nash will teach the young guys a few things, and when they leave, the Lakers will have waited patiently for the next young talent to swoop into the league. They might even swoop up Melo I’ve heard…

    • Pakyaw says:

      Kobe carried this team.. LOL!…u mean his teammate carried him for almost 2 decade…..from shaq,fisher,horry,odom,Bynum,gasol…walton?… Hehehe..

    • R-Lo says:

      Kobe carried the team for almost 20 years??? Do you forget who won all the championship MVP’s when the Lakers won in 2000, 2001,& 2002??? His name is Shaq. Another delusional Kobe fan.

  44. Michael Omole says:

    I would like to see a three team trade in which chandler comes to LA. Chris Kaman either needs to play or be traded and also please sign Kendall Marshall with injuries occurring Kobe is a SG not a PG

  45. Eaglos says:

    With Howard gone, Kobe out and Nash out, Lakers had the golden chance to build something solid even
    with that mediocre coach and an unhappy Gasol. Instead they chose to linger waiting for Mamba’s return.
    Now they get what they waited for, an aged Kobe shooting bricks and wasting shot attempts believing
    that we are still in 2005…

    Sad thing, considering that the bench is much better than last year.

    • guy says:

      seriously something wrong this team… they are good young player,but they are need more practice and some in Lakers. we need to reinforced the team. with player more good and with experience. and change also the coach. Lakers are a big team, so why they are not paid some players good and coach…