There is not really much to say about Friday night’s game against the Kings. The Lakers were bad, the Kings were not. The 132-114 margin of defeat reflects that, but also all the little things which go into winning, or, in this case, losing, basketball.
The missed rotations, the easy allowance of dribble penetration, the lack of helping the helper, the shoddy work on the glass, the bad shot selection, the sloppy execution, the poor screens being set, and so many other things that I’m just going to stop trying to explain it. When you give up 132 points, you did too much wrong. Scoring 114 may look nice, but it’s really just the shiny object on the ground to distract you from the fact you’re about to walk into a wall.
Analyzing this game for what it was, then, isn’t important. The Lakers were bad. Why they were bad are reasons we already knew about — or at least had strong hints at after opening night:
*The Lakers are a bad defensive team. Their guards and wings don’t defend well enough to protect Hibbert enough so he can protect them back.
*Kobe’s shot selection has been, for lack of a better word, awful. After taking 13 threes (making 3) on opening night, he shot 8 against the Kings (making 1). So, 21 of his 36 field goal attempts this year have been three pointers. By the way, he was 4-4 from two-point range.
*Brandon Bass is probably overmatched at center. He’s certainly overmatched when guarding DeMarcus Cousins.
I could go on, but in terms of recurring things, that’s probably enough. Contributing to the Kings loss was the fact that Julius Randle was also quite poor all over the floor while Lou Williams wasn’t his usual spark off the bench as a scorer. Add it all up and you get the score of the game. It’s not that difficult.
For me, then, the more interesting thing which came out of the game was Byron Scott calling his team soft. Not because that’s some groundbreaking thing, but because it’s exactly the opposite. Byron has a history of using this particular dig and if you follow me on twitter, you’ll know exactly what I mean by that. Byron added to his soft critique, noting his team was not prepared to play against the Kings.
My thoughts on this are two fold. First, it is Byron’s job to make sure his team is ready to play. If they’re not ready, it reflects poorly on him not just on the players.
Second, Scott breaking out the “soft” and “not ready to play” comments after the 2nd game — an embarrassing blowout loss — doesn’t surprise, but it does tell me that as much as the Lakers are a “new” team, they’re currently very much like last year’s team. Why? Because they’re coached by the same dude.
As the old saying goes, a team is often the reflection of their coach. Do not mistake this to mean I am calling Byron Scott soft. What I am saying, though, is that the characteristics he rails against in his post game pressers are, at least somewhat, a product of his own coaching. How can they not be? This year’s Lakers rotation has essentially been 10 players. Of those 10 players, only 3 — Clarkson, Ryan Kelly, and Nick Young — are holdovers. Kobe & Randle missed most of the year, Hibbert, Lou, Russell, Huertas, and Bass are new to the team.
While the team is new, last year’s Lakers are back. And it showed in a blowout loss to the Kings.