Lakers treading water with disjointed offense

Lakers star Kobe Bryant reacts to a referee's call during the Lakers' 88-85 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday. Bryant is averaging 13.5 points and seven assists per game since returning from a torn Achilles' tendon.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant reacts to a referee’s call during the Lakers’ 88-85 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday. Bryant is averaging 13.5 points and seven assists per game since returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon.
(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Despite a shrinking payroll and aging roster, Kobe Bryant made it clear he still wanted to win a championship, come hell or high water.

So of course the latter actually happened, the Lakers’ El Segundo offices flooding because of a broken water pipe a few days ago. The practice court wasn’t believed to be damaged, but staffers were displaced and the contents of many offices had to be hastily moved.

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 Mike D’Antoni even admitted it — as Bryant and Pau Gasol played a two-man game most of the time in an 88-85 victory over the Bobcats.


“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, Nick Young said.

“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 remembers

Bryant was fuming after his last trip to Atlanta, a 96-92 Lakers loss in March.

He claimed that Hawks swingman Dahntay Jones deliberately slid his foot under Bryant while Bryant was in the air for an 18-foot fadeaway late in the game.

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.

Juggling time

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, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks.

Every player on their 14-man roster has started a game except Jordan Farmar and Ryan Kelly. Gasol is the only one to have started every game.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan