NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Turning toxic in Los Angeles? — The Los Angeles Lakers entered this season with high hopes. Sure, the roster wasn’t as strong as it has been in years past, but they had a healthy Kobe Bryant, and if there’s anything we’ve learned through the years, it’s to not bet against Kobe. But the power of positive thinking apparently doesn’t extend to defensive rotations or offensive consistency, as the Lakers have gotten off to a franchise-worst 1-9 start. And last night’s 136-115 loss to the Warriors may portend even worse things ahead, as some players seem to be unhappy with Kobe’s volume shooting while coach Byron Scott wasn’t thrilled with the team’s defense, writes ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Baxter Holmes:
Scott lambasted his team’s effort, saying that he showed video to his players at halftime of them jogging when they should’ve been running. They didn’t change.
“I can fix that, basically, and [I] will starting Tuesday,” Scott said.
That’s when the Lakers will play the Hawks in Atlanta.
“It’s just going to be a very short leash,” Scott said. “If I see, in my eyes, that you’re not giving that effort, then I’ll just pull guys out.”
He added, “I think we have some guys right now, because of some of the injuries that we have, that feel that they’re almost entitled because they’ve got to play. Well, we’re losing anyway, so I ain’t got to play you.”
Then there was Bryant, who scored 44 points on 15-of-34 shooting from the field in 31 minutes. It was his most points since he tore his Achilles in 2013, and it came on a night when he wasn’t sure if he’d play with a viral infection anyway.
But Bryant shot the ball like it was a hot potato, launching it almost the second he caught it, no matter where he was, no matter how contested the shot was.
He shot 13 field goals in the first quarter; the rest of the Lakers shot 15.
He had 24 shots at halftime; the rest of the Lakers shot 32.
At intermission, he was on pace to set a new career-high for field-goal attempts in a game, besting the 47 he shot in November 2002 against Boston.
But for as much as he shot, and for as much as he scored, the Lakers kept falling further and further behind, eventually by as much as 38.
“We look up there, and we see that we’re winning by 30, 40 points, that 44 is really irrelevant,” Warriors backup center Marreese Speights said.
All the while, the Lakers looked far less like a team and more like one player.
In their locker room after, frustration boiled over more than at any point this season — and it was quite clear which direction most of it was aimed.
Said Carlos Boozer: “A lot of times we run a set, but Kobe is extremely aggressive. And then we try to hit the glass, get it off the glass. We’ve got to find a balance. It can’t be lopsided. We’ve got to find a balance.”
Said Jeremy Lin: “The game of basketball is … we’ve got to do it together. It can’t be … if I go into a game concerned about myself, then in some ways that’s detrimental to the team.”
Lin later added, “There’s so many things wrong right now. At the top of the list, I would say communication, trust and effort.”
Bryant defended his volume shooting, using metaphors about crime.
“Obviously I’d rather get guys involved early, but if a purse gets stolen in front of you, how many blocks are you going to let the guy run?” he asked.
“You going to chase him down and keep him in sight yourself or just wait for the authorities to get there, or decide to let him run and wait for the authorities to get there? It’s a tough thing.”