ATLANTA — Despite a shrinking payroll and aging roster,
So of course the latter actually happened, the
Welcome to the Lakers' 2013-14 season.
Good thing the team was on a four-game trip, but there's been only treading since Bryant returned, the Lakers going 1-3 after sneaking a victory out of Charlotte and sitting 12th in the Western Conference with an 11-12 record.
Bryant sounded bold Saturday when he said the goal was still a championship, following his thoughts quickly with management's need to decide whether the current roster would be enough to make it happen. (Hint: No.)
For now, the Lakers will lurch along with a disjointed offense — Coach
"It's not pretty right now," D'Antoni said. "We don't have a playmaker."
The Lakers are still without a healthy point guard, and Bryant isn't going anywhere except more-minutes land, meaning the newer Lakers must adapt to his style.
It's hard to avoid being a spectator sometimes when Bryant's on the court,
"Not on purpose, but yeah, you kind of know to space out when he gets the ball when there's 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter," Young said. "Just wait and see if he's going to pass you the ball or be Kobe."
Bryant is averaging 13.5 points and seven assists with 6.3 turnovers in four games since returning from a torn Achilles' tendon. He increased his accuracy to 43.9% after making eight of 15 shots against Charlotte.
"He was getting to positions and shots where he was comfortable," Gasol said. "He was reading the ball really well, controlling the pace offensively even though he had some turnovers. I like the way he is adjusting and progressing."
The Lakers begin another set of back-to-backs Monday in Atlanta. Their trip ends Tuesday in Memphis.
Bryant was fuming after his last trip to Atlanta, a 96-92 Lakers loss in March.
He claimed that
Bryant missed the shot, landed on Jones' foot and sustained a sprained left ankle that cost him two games.
So Bryant got back at Jones on Saturday. Twice.
"Unfortunately, I think Dylan's not there anymore so I'll have to wait until somebody picks him up," he said.
Yes, he called him Dylan instead of Dahntay and noted accurately that Jones was no longer in the NBA.
There's only one certainty with the Lakers this season — lineup changes.
There have been 10 starting combinations this season, including Saturday's rendition: Bryant, Gasol,
Every player on their 14-man roster has started a game except