Jeremy Lin looked more than comfortable. Carlos Boozer suddenly appeared to have another season or two of basketball left in him. Kobe Bryant didn’t take 37 shots.
The Lakers were as balanced as they’ve been this season in winning for the first time Sunday against Charlotte.
It wasn’t long before the inevitable question came up, the one about whether this could become a consistent thing for them. Or at least semi-consistent.
“Trying to get all the wealth spread around a little bit more,” Coach Byron Scott said Monday. “I think the guys got a good taste of it [Sunday] night. I think any time you get the green light from the coach to kind of play your game and take the shots that are available to you, I think it gives you a little bit more confidence to go out there and do that.”
Unfortunately for the Lakers, it took them nearly two weeks to figure that out. And there’s no guarantee it will continue.
But the green light was specifically given to Boozer and Lin after Bryant outshot the rest of the starters, 37-35, in the Lakers’ 112-106 loss to Phoenix last week.
In Lin’s case, Scott pulled him aside while the Lakers walked from the locker room to the court before Sunday’s game. Get out of your comfort zone, Scott said. Take control of the offense.
Lin responded with 21 points and seven assists in the team’s 107-92 victory that ended a winless start at five games. Bryant had 21 points and Boozer had 16.
“It’s one of those things where there’s no specific formula because every game has its own personality,” Lin said. “In general, we do want to try to keep everything as balanced as possible.”
It all sounds fine, but theory and reality can be vastly different. The Lakers’ game Tuesday in Memphis will test how secure they are in their newfound balance.
The Grizzles (6-1) are giving up an NBA-low 87.6 points per game. The number of shots Bryant takes could directly correspond with how much the Lakers panic on offense. Or how little faith Bryant has in some of his teammates.
Scott tends to call the supporting cast the guilty party, not Bryant. He did it again Monday.
“When you’ve got a bunch of new guys playing with a legend, it takes time,” Scott said. “A lot of those guys, they watched Kobe over the years be one of the best players that ever played this game. So of course when they throw it to him, sometimes they have the tendency to stand around and watch because they want to see what he’s going to do.”
Nick Young is getting closer to returning
Nick Young is still at least a week away from being able to take contact but he put up three-point shots and dribbled between his legs after Monday’s practice.
“Taking that next step,” Scott said.
Young has been sidelined more than five weeks because of a torn ligament in his right thumb. He averaged a career-high 17.9 points last season and was expected to be the Lakers’ top three-point threat this season.
Lakers receive exception
The NBA granted the Lakers a $1.5-million disabled-player exception for injured power forward Julius Randle.
The exception expires March 10 and can be used to sign or claim a player off waivers for $1.5 million or trade for a player being paid up to $1.6 million. The player acquired cannot be under contract beyond the current season. The amount represents half of Randle’s $3-million salary.
The Lakers have the NBA-maximum 15 players on their roster and would need to waive or trade a player to open up room to use the exception. Thirteen of the team’s players have fully guaranteed contracts. Guards Ronnie Price ($329,202) and Wayne Ellington ($315,646) will have portions of their salaries lock in Saturday.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.