Twenty games in, Lakers seem almost to be losing interest

Twenty games in, Lakers seem almost to be losing interest
Kobe Bryant, shown driving against Boston's Jeff Green on Friday, is providing most of the intriguing storylines for the Lakers this season. (Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

The truth has already dropped into the Lakers' season.

They play hard. They seem to care. They just don't have the talent and speed of other teams.


Some of that changed Friday. The playing hard and caring part, specifically.

"It really just kind of looked like we were disinterested in playing," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said after a 113-96 loss at Boston.

Tyler Zeller, of all people, crushed the Lakers with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Tyler Zeller!

"He played a whole lot harder than our bigs did," Scott said.

Yes he did. Tyler. Zeller.

The Lakers (5-15) are at the quarter pole of the 2014-15 season, usually an important time to evaluate what they have (not much) and don't have (a lot).

There's really nothing they can do about it. Their trading options are severely limited with so few pieces. And why make changes at this point if they're not of the championship-caliber variety?

The Lakers are doing a fine job of sliding toward a top-five pick in next year's draft, keeping it from Phoenix's grabbing hands at least one more year. (It would then become top-three protected for the 2016 draft. If the Lakers keep that one, there's really trouble.)

So the main story lines are how many points Kobe Bryant scores, how many shots it takes him to get there, and whom the Lakers want in the draft. The answers these days are A) a lot, B) a lot, and C) Jahlil Oakfor (like everybody else).

There was one oddity arising out of the Lakers' game in Boston. Cheers for Bryant. Quite a few, actually.

It was more an indictment on the state of the teams. Boston (6-11) isn't thrilling anybody either, allowing many Lakers fans to pass through the TD Garden turnstiles.

"When the Celtics struggle, there's plenty of other things to do in Boston," Bryant said. "That year when they were rolling, this place was nuts. You definitely wouldn't have heard 'Kobe' chants in 2009, and '08 and '10."

Bryant was less clear on where this team stands through 20 games.

"Still trying to figure things out," he said. "It's an up-and-down thing for us."

He wouldn't even get partial credit on a test. This team is almost uniquely down.

Scott promised changes in the starting lineup for Sunday's game against New Orleans. If Nick Young replaces Wesley Johnson, the entertainment value increases. Winning percentage too? Probably not.

The Lakers haven't been this bad through 20 games since 1957. That team started 3-17. George Mikan lasted about half the season as coach before John Kundla took over.

No one is going to bail out Scott. Nor Bryant. They're two Lakers greats stuck together, far removed from the 1996 season they spent as teammates.

Things can't get much worse than this. Or can they?

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan