These are the ways the Lakers are losing: Jeremy Lin thought he heard his coach say “go,” but Byron Scott yelled “elbow.”
So Lin gave the ball to Jordan Hill near the arc instead of Kobe Bryant off to the side, and the Lakers were toast when Hill misfired on an open 21-footer with 28 seconds left.
Missing shots was the overall theme of the Lakers’ 107-102 loss Tuesday to the Memphis Grizzlies, specifically Bryant’s record-setting night.
His off-target 14-foot turnaround in the fourth quarter gave him 13,418 career misses, one more than Boston forward John Havlicek.
To provide context, Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan hold the next four spots for all-time missed shots. Decent crew.
“Well, I’m a shooting guard that’s played 19 years,” Bryant said, emphasizing the word “shooting” and alluding to some of the misses he’d want back. “All the ones where I’ve had to try to bail the team out at the end of the shot clock. That annoys the crap out of me. Kills my field-goal percentage.”
Bryant didn’t get a chance Tuesday to bail out the Lakers at FedEx Forum.
The defensively challenged Lakers had just forced Tony Allen into a five-second inbounding violation after a timeout and were down three with 37.1 seconds left.
But the ball ended up in Hill’s hands, not Bryant’s. After Hill missed, Bryant yelled out a less-polite version of “What are you doing?” and clapped his hands in frustration.
Zach Randolph scored off a rebound at the other end and the game was pretty much done
Bryant talked animatedly at Lin on the Lakers’ bench during a late timeout, but Scott later took the blame for the miscue, saying he should have also given Lin a visual sign in addition to yelling out the desired play.
“I appreciate that on Coach’s end but …it’s not anybody’s fault,” Lin said. “I think there’s a little miscommunication with, I guess, words that rhyme.”
Hill, by the way, was wide open. And had worked a lot on his outside touch during the off-season.
“If I were to do it all over again, I don’t know if I would change anything,” Lin said. “We got a good look. If J-Hill had hit that shot, we would have been down by one.”
The obvious counter-argument: Bryant wanted that shot. And almost always gets it.
“It was just confusion,” Bryant said. “You’re in an arena with a lot of people yelling. When you’re new, we’re all just kind of getting to know each other, stuff like that happens.”
Bryant wasn’t angry after the game and was bullish on the Lakers’ effort, which included a near comeback from a 17-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter.
“We’re seeing some really good things,” he said.
Carlos Boozer fouled out with 4:32 to play but not before scoring 20 points. Wesley Johnson added 15 points in one of his more assertive games. Bryant finished with 28 points on 10-for-26 shooting, adding seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Before the game, Scott didn’t really want to hear about Bryant being 13 misses from breaking Havlicek’s mark.
“I don’t care about that ... and I’m sure he doesn’t either,” Scott said, interrupting a reporter. “I don’t mean to cut you off, but to me it speaks of his aggressiveness and his longevity.
Scott had more to say on the general subject, scolding critics of Bryant’s shot volume or shot selection.
“The games that he don’t take shots, people ask why didn’t he take more shots,” Scott said. “He can’t win either way, which is unbelievable to me for a guy who gives it everything he’s got every single time he’s on the floor.
“I take all that stuff with a grain of salt and I’m sure he does too, because the bottom line to him is championships.”
With a 1-6 record, the Lakers are in no shape to win a championship. But Tuesday presented a new way for them to lose a game.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan