Advertisement
Lakers

Kobe Bryant puts latest Lakers loss on himself, and his shooting

Lou Williams

The Lakers’ Lou Williams passes under Dallas Mavericks defenders during a game at Staples Center on Nov. 1.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

For a change, the Lakers didn’t allow 132 points.

But they didn’t win, which was nothing new.

There were boos at Staples Center after a third-quarter Dirk Nowitzki jumper and boredom most of the night as the Lakers lost to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, 103-93.

The Lakers still showed a more-than-mild disdain for defense and can’t get their old-timer on track, Kobe Bryant missing 12 of 15 shots against Dallas.

Advertisement

“I suck right now,” said Bryant, 37, who scored 22 points fewer than his age. “I’m the 200th-best player in the league right now.”

Bryant shot a career-low 37.3% last season and is at 31.4% through three games, all Lakers losses. He is particularly poor from three-point range, making only six of 29 (20.7%).

“Guys are getting me the ball, they’re making great passes. It’s their job to facilitate and it’s my job to finish,” he said. “I’ve just got to do the responsible thing and make ‘em.”

Advertisement

If this feels familiar, it is. The Lakers lost their first three games last season on the way to an 0-5 start and their worst season ever.

To answer the most popular question among Lakers followers nowadays, the team keeps its first-round pick only if it’s among the top three after the draft lottery. Otherwise it goes to Philadelphia (via Phoenix) as part of the Steve Nash trade.

Scattered among their problems, the Lakers might have found their power forward of the future, Julius Randle turning in an inspired effort with 22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and four steals, joining Lamar Odom (March 2007) and Vlade Divac (February 1995) as the only Lakers to achieve such marks since 1985-86.

The player they took seventh overall in 2014 is showing what he can do at this level.

Randle scored on reverse layups, mid-range jumpers, powerful drives and as the trailer on a fastbreak. Defensively, he flew into the picture and blocked from behind a would-be fastbreak dunk by Zaza Pachulia.

“Randle is a problem. He is a beast driving in there,” Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle said. “He is creating contact and havoc. We survived it.”

Randle wasn’t flawless. He hit the underside of the backboard with a wild, elbows-flying drive in the third quarter. And he made only four of eight free throws.

The Lakers didn’t score until Bryant’s free throws with 7:32 left in the first quarter. Dallas already had 15 points amid an early hail of three-pointers as the Lakers’ lousy perimeter defense picked up where it left off in Sacramento.

Advertisement

The Lakers, though, worked Dallas’ lead down to 97-91 after two Lou Williams free throws with 2:27 remaining. They went cold after that, Randle missing a layup and the team missing four three-point shots.

The Lakers continued to founder behind the arc, making only 10 of 34 (29.4%), well below Coach Byron Scott’s desire for 35% accuracy from there.

Why are the Lakers taking so many three-pointers these days?

“You [media] guys,” Scott said dryly, and somewhere there’s an analytics joke in there.

The Lakers better start winning before they become a season-long punchline. Again.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan


Advertisement