Lakers’ ‘Bench Mob’ a thing of the past
They used be called the Bench Mob.
Now they are just (hey, you fill in the blank).
Whatever the Lakers’ bench used to be, it is no longer that.
Sure, they lost a key member of the bench when Lamar Odom began starting for Andrew Bynum (strained left Achilles’ tendon).
But the Lakers are supposed to have the deepest bench in the NBA.
Lately, they haven’t even had the best bench in a given game.
Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers’ bench was unable to give the team a boost.
It wasn’t so much that the Lakers’ reserves scored only four points and were only two for 15 from the field. It wasn’t so much that the Spurs’ bench scored 20 points.
It’s more the recent pattern for the Lakers’ bench.
The reserves were outscored 42-12 by the New Orleans Hornets’ reserves and 48-22 by the Atlanta Hawks’ reserves.
That led Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to say before that Hawks game that his reserves’ play “makes me want to throw up sometimes.”
Luke Walton returned after missing the last two months because of a pinched nerve in his back.
But Walton was unable to help Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic, the key players off the bench for the Lakers.
“It’s tough to put a finger on,” Walton said. “Shannon and Jordan both played some minutes. They both went one for five. They had off shooting nights. Besides that, no one else from the bench really had any shots.”
Walton didn’t take any shots against the Spurs.
Brown was one for five for two points.
Farmar was one for five for two points.
Vujacic was zero for three and Josh Powell missed both of his shots.
“If all you’re going to do is judge it on the way people shoot the ball, you’re going to have good games and you’re going to have bad games,” Walton said. “With our offense, a lot of our stuff is run for the starters, as it should be.
“We’ve got All-Stars all on that starting five. So a lot of the stuff should be run for them. A lot of times that’ll turn the bench into spot-up shooters. If you make it, you have a good game. If you miss, you have a bad game. People always are going to make and miss shots on different nights. But as a bench player, you have to find a way to get active in the game.”
The Lakers have lost three of their last four games.
In those three loses, their bench has been outscored 110-38.
“You’ve just got to be ready to play, hoping you’re on when you get in there,” Farmar said. “You don’t have time to be feeling it out. You’ve got to get in there and make it happen.
“It’s tough. It’s not going to be consistent every day. You just try to be as consistent as you can.”
Farmar said that when the bench doesn’t play well, “of course” it is disappointing not to be productive.”
“You want to play basketball, man,” Farmar said. “All of us want to play. All of us know we’re good enough to be on the court. It’s just a matter of the situation we’re in and the team. That’s the hard part of our sacrifice.”
Farmar and many of the bench players would like a few more minutes to find their groove.
Against the Spurs, Farmar played 15 minutes 36 seconds, Brown 17:29, Walton 7:56 and Vujacic 6:30.
“You might miss two shots and have a terrible game,” Farmar said. “You go 0 for two, 0 for four and you didn’t contribute. But, had you played 20 more minutes, you might have gone eight for 10. You never know how it’s going to unfold.
“It’s tough, especially if you’re playing good defense, getting your hands on balls and doing other things. You want to feel like you’re helping the team in a positive way.”
As for Walton, he was just happy to be back playing a basketball game again.
“Obviously, my back, there’s a good chance it’ll start hurting again,” Walton said. “It did twice before.”
Walton’s back first flared up during training camp and then again this last time, forcing him to miss 22 games.
“My back felt good out there,” Walton said. “My timing was a little off, but that’ll come. That was nothing. It was fun to be back out there. Unfortunately, we just got smacked on our own home court. But it was still fun to be back out there.”