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.
After that horrendous start, the Lakers started to chip away. They would win the 2nd quarter by 3 to cut the halftime deficit to 13. And while they would lose the 3rd period 32-30, they had clearly found their stride and started to figure out ways to get buckets. Most of that was on the back of Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson.
Young would score all of his team high 22 points in the 2nd half, hitting 8 of his 14 field goals in the game’s final 24 minutes. It started like most Young eruptions do, with the game out of hand and with him firing an off-balance three which fell. Then came another. And other. AND ANOTHER. All told, he’d can 6 three pointers in the second half and it was his shooting exhibition which served as the ballast for the team’s comeback.
But it was Clarkson’s steady and strong play which was the balance to Young’s outburst. Clarkson scored 10 of his 20 points in the second half, but, more importantly, also dished out all of his team high 6 assists. Clarkson probed off the pick and roll, made some smart reads when turning the corner, and played a controlled and heady half. He was the 2nd best player on the floor this game (Indiana’s Paul George was a monster), and showed again why so many of us think his future is so bright.
The 4th quarter, then, brought us a game no one would have expected after the first 12 minutes. The Lakers fought hard to rally, playing some good defense, better offense, and found a way to control the game. With a couple of minutes left they gave it one last run, with a Ron three pointer cutting into the deficit which then set up one more Kobe moment to remember:
That shot would bring the Lakers within a single point. It would be as close as they got. After the Pacers hit two free throws, Kobe would take a similar shot and airball it. The drama was over. The Lakers would lose.
Beyond this, there isn’t much to say. On the day Kobe announced he would retire at season’s end, the Lakers lost. This made it very much like nearly every other night this season. I’d say Kobe deserves better, but deserve has nothing to do with it. This team is not constructed well, isn’t coached well. Their record reflects that.
It was nice to forget all of that for a moment, though. Some might tell you they can’t wait until they no longer have the distraction. I’ll tell you I wish we all could be distracted a bit more this season.
This was the sort of game Lakers fans need.
It can be OK if the team is bad, but there has to be reason for hope. Far too often over the past few seasons, the Lakers were not only bad, they were hopelessly bad. In both the Portland and Indiana games, the Lakers showed signs of being more competitive, more cohesive, and more able to play up to NBA standards (not championship standards by any stretch, but “we can beat some teams” standards). It may turn out to be an illusion, but it does appear the team is progressing.
I’m sure there will be articles/discussion specifically about Kobe Bryant’s retirement, so I won’t comment about that here.
Too bad this couldn’t be the storybook ending that the Lakers could have given their fans right after Bryant made his big announcement.
The rally was admirable, but it wouldn’t have been needed had the Lakers showed up in the first quarter.
The time for moral victories ended a while ago.
Theres about three people here I’m dreading to see post about Kobe’s retirement. Hopefully agendas can be ignored for once and respect and gratitude shown for a top 10/all-time player and Laker.
The Bottom Line:
– Two records the Lakers are in danger of breaking this year:
– “Lakers all time worst start” and “Lakers all time worst record”.
– This franchise has only won less than 30 games in a season FOUR times in their 68 year history…so far. Unfortunately it’s happened TWICE in the last two years…with a real possibility of three years straight.
This is the bottom line thru 16 games of this season and their worst four previous seasons:
2015-2016 thru 16 games: 2-14 (?? win season/ 82 game season, ???)
2014-2015 thru 16 games: 3-13 (21 win/ 82 game season, .256)
2013-2014 thru 16 games: 8-8 (27 win/ 82 game season, .329)
1959-1960 thru 16 games: 6-10 (25 wins/ 75 game season, .333)
1957-1958 thru 16 games: 2-14 (19 wins/ 73 game season, .264)
– They are now tied with the worst record thru 16 games in Laker history.
Dan Patrick “with kobe retiring, byron scott better get his stuff together and be ready to be shown the door”
Metta and Kobe killed us with their offense….the good news…they are not part of the future…
Craig W. says
Thanks for the memories!
Looks like we have a good chance to keep that pick *sigh*, this season is going to be looong, but again, Kobe has to retire, it was nice to get that vintage Kobe moment, but the reality is that he is hurting the team, one of the problems of the Lakers is that we don’t have that star player that commands that double team, Kobe is not that player anymore and other teams have the luxury to single cover every player on the floor, for me thats as big of a reason as the coaching the personnel and all the other stuff that we all know and is not necessary to repeat over and over and over, at least for me it was the most entertaining game of the season and most emotional, i take solace on the fact that the slate is clean next season and can start making real progress, this is going to be a extremely painful season, im tuning in to see the kid’s development and despite their ups and down there is the beggining of a certain cohesion between them, small steps, GO LAKERS
– Lots of subplots developing for the Lakers next game with the 76ers. Looking forward to Darius take on them
George Best says
The Lakers wont win 10 games but maybe we can just enjoy seeing Kobe on the floor and roll with it. If we keep the pick its worth it.
I just wish Kobe would have been able to stay healthy to see his skills decline and him adjust leading to a retirement without so much criticism. He went from a dominant player to not even NBA playable via injury. Not fair for such a great player.
Top 10 all time player and 3rd greatest Laker ever. The Lakers will be hard pressed to even find another face of the franchise muchless one so talented in the modern day NBA.
Curious if anyone feels that our peripheral vets have any value for teams that are currently competing. In other words would Young, Williams and Bass bring anything back of value — in terms of young talent or picks. Or, would they just return ‘stuff’, ie: matching salaries.
I think Young has some value but I’d pull the trigger now as the more he plays the more likely he reverts to the mean (shooting so/so from deep). I believe the hope was that Williams would be playing better and would be helping the Lakers win and or be an attractive dead line asset. Right now he looks like a bad investment. Bass is a nice piece who could provide 15 minutes as a back up rotational piece but don’t see him being in demand.
Hibbert has an expiring but statistically has regressed again. Besides the size of his contract means potential long term dollars coming back, which doesn’t fit in with the FO’s cap flexibility mantra.
I’m just thinking out loud. Since the Lakers are out of it why not try to acquire assets that may help down the line. Young is a case in point, yes he helped keep the Lakers close last night but we still lost. And each win, if we’re being honest, is a step closer to losing our pick.
We’re awful now, how much worse can we get if we just dumped everything of value (except the kids of course) and focused on the future?
The Lakers will be hard pressed to even find another face of the franchise muchless one so talented in the modern day NBA.
Enter … Ben Simmons.
For me Kobe is the second best Laker above The Captain because it took Magic earth shattering impact as a rookie for the Lakers to move to the next level and become the Showtime Dinasty, the Lakers were a playoff team with Kareem, Magic transformed the Lakers into Champions, i don’t mean it as a knock on the great Kareem, one of the best players ever and without Kareem which i admire and love , Magic could not had won anything either, but in my opinion Kobe’s achievement as a Laker are bigger because he spent his entire career on a Laker uniform, same as Magic, just my opinion…
Pacers are a serioulsy faltering team. A few years ago they were a tough all around team, and got after it on defense. Honestly, it just seems like Paul George trying to do everything and not a ton of help around him. Despite that, I’m sure they are more than fine with Hibbert being gone.
I think Hibbert has been in decline for at least a couple years. He hasn’t been horrible, but hasn’t been too good either. IF he was a 5mill player he would be alright, but Ed Davis is the better player at this point for 7mill, and Hibbert is still being paid 16? Clearly Hibbert’s earning days are over after this season. I hope the Lakers go after a faster athletic Center Like Ed Davis, who can finish big time on the Pick n’ Rolls. I’m assuming whomever Coaches next will start doing far more pick n’ rolls than Byron Scott’s version does. A mobile big would be nice to pair up with Clarkson, and hopefully an improving DAR. With the NBA clock so quick and sometimes teams are not really getting into their offense until later in the clock–Pick N’ Rolls are bread and butter to get a decent shot. Corner 3’s are nice to see as part of an offense as well, but you have to work to get them in position and have willing passers and guys that are good shooters, not merely streak shooters.
-@ George Best, the same was said of West, Baylor, Kareem, & Magic. And will there ever be another Shaq?
On another note… these guys lost in the first half of the first quarter, which has been a common occurrence. At one point, Kobe’s 1 of 8 was better the rest of the teams’ 1 for 10, so it isn’t just Kobe’s bad shooting that killed us (although he’s not helping). I wonder to what extent BS just doesn’t have the guys prepared/scouted for the team at hand? Thoughts? This summer I thought that the Hibbert/Bass combo would be our starters… would it be worth trying a different starting set so we don’t get shellacked from the get-go (but still get the kids their minutes eventually as the game progresses)?
Kevin – I don’t really see any of our veterans having significant trade value unless a contending team has a series of injuries that puts them in a bind where they feel the need to overpay for our guys.
No team with cap space, to absorb their salaries, would need them (as they are likely not contending). Teams that are contending then would have to match salaries. The point you are making is that in making salaries work would a youngster with upside be thrown in? I don’t believe so, unless my injury scenario takes place.
I see what you mean about Young, but he runs hot and cold. In 2013/14 he was awesome not so much in 2014/15. He looks good now but…
T. Rogers says
I think Kobe’s retirement announcement saves Byron’s job for now. There is no need to push him out the door at this point. When Kobe walks away at season’s end the FO office can send Byron out as well and completely turn the page. I also think this means the appearance of trying to win goes out the window as well.
The next 66 games will be 66 individual Kobe Bryant send off ceremonies. Just like last night. Down 3 points at the end of the game Byron called Kobe’s number. It will be like that for the rest of the season. And while I don’t really like it, I understand.
And with all of that I think the tank is officially on.
I would have more respect for kobe if he retired now but they are losing because he is in the lineup
Yeah, I said last week that I thought the FO would fire Byron, but I don’t think they will now. The spec will heat up if the Lakers lose in Philly tomorrow (I think they will) but I think Mitch will then announce that they are riding out the season with Byron. Then, I think, they will announce a buyout/sinecure deal for him within a day or two after the season ends. If I had to bet now, I would guess that the next Lakers coach will be Scott Brooks. SoCal ties, winning record, and ties to Durant and Westbrook. I am not saying I would do that, but it seems like what the FO will do.
I also expect that the FO will be seeing if a contender will take any of BB./Young/Williams for an expiring and/or late first-rounder/second rounder.
And, yes, the name Ben Simmons will be trending on Lakers sites from now until lottery day.
3 other records you forgot.
Worst shooting percentage based on 25 minutes and 15 shots per game. Was 28% Kobe at 30%
Most air balls in a season.
Most times a player falls downn for no apparent reason. Roy will smash that.
And of course most money made by owners per win. Looks like Lakers will make $10,000,000 per win this year
The little things us fans have to look forward too!
Depends how desperate the other team is. I believe Cleveland gave up two first round picks to land Mozgov. A move that shored up their defense immensely. Under those type of circumstances the Lakers could get more back than you might otherwise expect.
But otherwise I would expect to get guys who just haven’t been able to get a chance yet or guys that showed talent but obviously still need development, or later picks. Landing a more known quality would likely involve giving up a piece of the Lakers young core in addition to the moving one of the vets.
Kobe won’t retire now, people think that he is going to leave over 20 million dollars on the table just because? Would people here would leave money like that on the table? He will finish this season come hell or high water, it’s just the way it is. @rr I dont think BS will be fired now, wait until April…
Regarding Byron Scott’s tenure (and tenuousness) as a Laker coach, I said a few days ago that I thought he was on thin ice and I’m sticking with that. Recently, Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers GM, said the following with regard to the Lakers’ performance this year:
“We were hopeful that we would get off to a better start this year. We think we added a couple of veterans along with a bunch of young players. I thought that we would be better than two wins into the season. That’s not to say that we would be on pace to win 60 or 50 games, but I thought we’d be a little bit better. Clearly we’re not playing at the kind of level that a player of Kobe’s age and experience finds challenging. Kind of like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”
If I were Byron Scott, I would consider these to be rather ominous-sounding words. You never want to hear your boss say, “I thought we would be better” or “there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.” These words would not be encouraging to any head coach.
I’ve been in the corporate world for over 30 years and I’ve had a fairly decent career, I think. But I’ve also been cut loose. And these words sounds chillingly similar to the ones that my boss was using days before he called me into his office.
BTW, when Mitch was asked to comment on Byron Scott, he refused to answer the question. He said that he’d prefer to keep the focus on Kobe. If I were Byron (and I have nothing against the man), I would not be sleeping well at night.
If the Lakers keep losing at their current rate, I’ll say that he could be gone by Christmas. We’ll see what happens.
Any trade that sets us up for next year is good, i would not trade lou though he’s 3 year deal is at a good price