Archives For Game Recap
The Lakers have not had many, if any, nights like Tuesday’s at the Staples Center. Having only 3 wins prior contributes to that for sure, but it was even more than the fact the team banked another win in an account which has been too barren this year. It was, instead, in the process of getting the win how much of the action the team controlled and how the game captured the essence of what most would have hoped for this season.
A look at the box score tells a lot of the story:
The Lakers lost to the Raptors 102-93, falling to 1-4 on their current road trip. This, in and of itself, is not news. After all, the team was 3-17 heading into the game. Leaving 3-18, especially after playing a team over .500 in their gym on the second night of a back to back should not raise any eyebrows.
Kobe Bryant shot 50%, making 8 of his 16 field goal attempts en route to 21 points. He also added 8 rebounds, 4 assists and two steals. Statistically, this was probably his best (and one of his more well rounded) games of the year. This is news. We don’t need to rehash Kobe’s level of play this year, but shooting that percentage and cutting his 3-point FGA’s to 4 is worth noting as a true positive. Yes, he still led the team in field goal attempts and dominated the ball down the stretch, but those things aren’t really going to change much, if at all, this season.
The biggest news, though, isn’t about Kobe (or another L on the schedule), but the decision by Byron Scott to remove D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle from the starting lineup in favor of Lou Williams and Larry Nance, Jr. The decision was made this morning and did not involve a sit down with either player to explain the reasoning. When Byron was asked (both before and after the game) he noted that neither Russell nor Randle were playing poorly, but, rather, that the team has been. He cited their 3-17 record and noted there needed to be a change.
This does not mean the Lakers have no chance. And, at some point, the team is very likely to have a game where they break through, shoot well, get a few timely defensive stops, and pull out a win. Tonight would be as good a night as any to make this happen. After all, the Wizards did travel from Cleveland last night while the Lakers only came from Philly. There is a chance they will be as tired or more than the visiting team. Or maybe I’m reaching. We shall see.
The above paragraph was from Wednesday’s game preview against the Wizards. I’m not saying I can tell the future, but if you’re interested in tonight’s lottery numbers, hit me up in the comments and I might share them with you.
No, but seriously, the Lakers were due for a win. They have been a bad team this year, but coming into the game against the Wizards they were on pace for about an 11 win season. That win total would be the worst by any NBA team ever. The Lakers may be bad, but they’re not that bad.
Over at the 76ers blog Philadunkia, I participated in a four question preview (Fo’ with the Foes) for Tuesday night’s game between the Sixers and the Lakers. One of the questions I was asked was about Kobe’s retirement announcement and how I felt about it. This was part of my response:
Now that the announcement is made, I’m most interested in seeing how it impacts the rest of the team and the tenor of the season over the final 60+ games. Let’s face it, the Lakers are a bad team, but now they can be bad and at least have some cover that it’s Kobe’s final year and collect some goodwill that way. But, at some point there will be calls to get the young guys more burn and I’m interested in seeing whether Byron Scott has it in him to hand over the keys to the car while Kobe is still around.
Hours before the game started, Kobe Bryant announced he would not play beyond this season. We’ll get to that another time, but that was the backdrop to this game. The farewell tour would begin in earnest at home, two days before the team will play in Kobe’s hometown of Philly.
The crowd was ready, but the players were not. Both teams started out poorly, missing countless shots they would normally make. By the end of the 1st period, only the Pacers would have found their stride, taking a 16 point lead to the break that they would never relinquish. As I have written several times before, a game can just as easily be lost in the first 12 minutes as it can in the last 5 and tonight was a prime example of that. The Lakers would miss their first 11 shots and that was that.
Only, it wasn’t. Kinda. Sorta.
The Lakers lost to the Raptors on Friday night, their 10th loss in 12 games, which is a bit concerning if all you are doing is watching the standings or worried about the team’s record. I do watch those things and would like that to be different, but if that’s all you are watching you missed some things which, in the bigger picture, are more important.
The Raptors game was a good progress game, a game where the young players all found their stride on the same night, a game that will, hopefully, be more of the norm in the future than it has been to this point in the year. Consider the following:
The Lakers had lost 4 games in a row and were reeling. Their opponent was on the 2nd night of a back to back and had lost to the Clippers on Saturday night. One team was going to leave LA Sunday night (the Lakers to Phoenix, the Pistons back to Detroit after an 11 day roadie) happy. That team is the Lakers and I think we all feel a bit of relief and happiness because of that. I know I do.
It was not a perfect night and there were things I wish played out differently (more on that later), but on a night when the Lakers got a W and in a season where that looks like it might not happen as many times as any of us with rooting interests would like, I won’t dwell on that stuff too much. The Lakers work hard and I want to see that work rewarded. Even if it comes with things I don’t necessarily agree with.
On this night, though, there was more to like than not.