Kobe Bryant did what he could to carry his listless Lakers last night in Cleveland — the NBA’s leading scorer poured in a season-high 42 points, but once again, it was not enough to earn a win. Los Angeles is now 1-10 this season when Bryant scores 30 or more points, and has an improbable overall record of 9-13.
Kobe, who is normally arrogant and defiant regardless of how poorly his team is playing, seemed dejected following the loss to the Cavaliers, and said he’s baffled by the ongoing struggles. Bryant even wondered out loud if the Lakers are perhaps a little too old.
Per the LA Times:
A rattled and clueless Mike D’Antoni, asked whether this latest Lakers’ debacle against a Cleveland team with only four wins was embarrassing, said: “No. “It’s basketball. I hate it. I’m down. But I’m not embarrassed … that’s a harsh word. I’m not embarrassed.” A few minutes later the same question was put to Kobe Bryant, and “yes,” he said, he was embarrassed. “This is the toughest stretch, the most challenging stretch in my 17 years for sure,” said Bryant while sitting calmly in front of his locker taking on all questions. Is Kobe upset? “I’m very upset, and in the past I would blow my top and go crazy,” he said. “Then I had a head coach [Phil Jackson] who always kept calm and I learned from that. “I’m trying to do the same thing here, but I won’t lie; they’re messing with my Zen stuff.”
As for what ails the Lakers, Bryant said turnovers — “and I’ve got to do a better job of that myself” — and transition defense are the two biggest culprits. “Last year we got beat in the playoffs by transition points and this year it’s still an Achilles’ heel for us. I don’t know if we’re too slow of a team and we got to change things up a little bit and play a slower game. I don’t know the answer.” That’s what we are getting out of D’Antoni? Is it as simple as waiting for the return of Pau Gasol and Steve Nash? “No,” Bryant said. “Those issues are still there. With Steve and Pau there in the lineup we still didn’t win a preseason game. Pau isn’t the fastest guy in the world and neither is Steve. Actually, we’re slow as hell. I’m one of the fastest guys on the team and I’m like 50.”
This is the first time since the 2005 season that the Lakers have been four games below .500. That team became the first Laker squad to miss the Playoffs in the past 18 years.
No one expects the 2012-’13 Lakers to suffer a similar fate, of course. They could get healthy and eventually go on a run. So far, though, they proven to be a major disappointment.