The Lakers are already talking about trust, or lack of it, and it’s barely a few weeks into the season.
After the Lakers gave up 136 points Sunday to Golden State, Jeremy Lin had a lot to say about the defense.
“We can’t live with the stuff we gave up. It wasn’t even shots. It was just, like, layups, dunks, open stuff,” he said. “There was no resistance.”
The key question — why?
“There’s no one answer to that. It’s such a deep-rooted issue,” Lin said. “There’s so many things wrong right now. At the top of the list, I would say communication, trust and effort.”
Uh-oh. Trust issues. On a 1-9 team.
There are a few reasons the Lakers are allowing a league-worst 112.1 points a game.
Kobe Bryant is freelancing a lot on defense, even outright gambling for steals, and it doesn’t always work. Lin, his backcourt mate, has shown to be an average defender at best.
When guards penetrate the Lakers’ exterior, they’re met by big men who aren’t big enough. Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill have never been shot blockers. Ed Davis is a solid shot blocker but also undersized with little ability to create offense at the other end.
There’s also indifference created on the defensive end, particularly in preventing fastbreaks, because of the enormous tilt toward Bryant on offense.
There’s an NBA axiom that players who don’t get the ball on offense often don’t care about the ball on defense. Bryant had 35 shots in the Lakers’ loss to Golden State; the other starters had 34.
Bryant had his own thoughts after the Lakers’ worst 10-game start ever.
“It’s not about trust,” he said. “You come out at the start of the game, you make plays and do what we need to do — but you go down 15, 17 points? I’m not going to let the person run five blocks with a purse, and just watch it happen in front of me. At some point you need to keep them in your sights.”
“It gets to a point where you can’t make excuses. You can’t look at everybody else and point the finger. You have to look at yourself first. I look at myself first; maybe I’m being too aggressive. Maybe I’ve got to let the person run a couple more blocks and let the authorities come. Those are things that I have to evaluate. I’ll look at myself and see if there are other things I can do to keep guys involved and get them better opportunities, and things of that nature — and hopefully everybody’s doing the same thing.”
Bad scene for the Lakers. It could easily worsen with a trip this week to Atlanta, Houston and Dallas, teams with a combined 21-8 record before Monday’s games.
Reserve forward Ryan Kelly, who has suffered hamstring injuries since training camp, reinjured his right hamstring in Sunday’s loss to Golden State. An ultrasound revealed that Kelly tore his right hamstring and will be out at least six weeks, the team said Monday.
This won’t help the Lakers much on defense, but at least they’ll have another scorer Tuesday against the Hawks. Nick Young is expected to return after sitting out almost seven weeks because of a torn thumb ligament.
He averaged a career-high 17.9 points last season, parlaying it into a four-year, $21.5-million deal. It’s safe to say he was energetic about returning to the practice court a few days ago.
“Get your popcorn ready!!!!!!!” he said on Twitter.
Ellington rejoining soon?
Reserve guard Wayne Ellington remained away from the team after attending his father’s funeral Saturday but could return this week. Ellington took an indefinite leave of absence after his father, Wayne Sr., was shot and killed last week in Philadelphia.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.