Kobe Bryant sat out Saturday night’s 125-105 loss in Phoenix to rest his sore shin. Without the services of the league’s leading scorer the Lakers decided to give their defense an off night too.
Aside from an active and energetic first quarter the Lakers were largely lifeless, barely even attempting to get in the way of the Suns when they attacked the hoop or close out on them when they shot from deep.
Former Lakers fan favorite Shannon Brown lit up the Lake Show for a team best 24. So too did super sub Michael Redd who led a Suns bench that won a one sided duel with the Lakers second unit. Phoenix got 55 points from their bench, 23 produced by the sharp shooting Redd. Compare that to L.A.’s 10 points from the second squad and it’s a first round knockout.
Early on you saw the writing on the wall. Mike Brown wanted to pound the rock inside and Alvin Gentry had his team prepared for that exact strategy. In the first quarter alone Andrew Bynum shot an unheard of 2 out of 11. Marcin Gortat is one of the few bigs that bothers Bynum both with his size and activity level. Drew was harassed all night long, nearly blowing his cool again after being fouled in the third.
Now don’t get it confused, the Laker bigs still played up in KB24’s absence. Pau Gasol went for 30 and 13 while Bynum did damage with 23 and 18 of his own. The problem was the two typically efficient post players became volume scorers taking a staggering 52 shots between them.
For whatever its worth Devin Ebanks played the best game of his young career, scoring 12 points in 32 minutes of play. But he didn’t give the Lakers any boost defensively.
The Lakers gave an inconsistent effort all night, making occasional runs to close the gap only to be undone by dismal defense.
The horrendous defense is really nothing new. This was going to be a problem with out without Kobe. Lately the Lakers have given a defensive effort only Mike D’Antonio would appreciate. Tonight was a sad showing all the way around. About the only man that left it all on the court was Metta World Peace who put together his second straight solid offensive outing scoring 19 on 8 of 10 shooting.
We can now toss Kobe’s shin into the growing pile of questions surrounding the Lakers as the make their playoff push. Usually this is the time you’d like to be playing your best hoops. The Lakers are doing the exact opposite. Even worse is that they’re going to have to correct their errors on the road with two more coming up away from Staples. So far it doesn’t look like the Lakers packed their defense for the trip. Maybe someone back in L.A. and overnight it in time for Monday’s game in New Orleans.