No one in NBA history has missed more shots than Kobe Bryant. He’s having an especially hard time finding his stroke in his 19th season.
Bryant and the struggling Los Angeles Lakers try to get on track Wednesday night when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Lakers (1-6) got by Charlotte 107-92 on Sunday for their first win, but their woes resumed in Tuesday’s 107-102 loss at Memphis. Bryant finished with 28 points while shooting 10 of 26, surpassing Boston Celtics great John Havlicek with 13,421 missed shots over the course of his career.
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While Bryant leads the league in scoring with 26.7 points per game, he’s been held to 39.3 percent from the floor – well off his career mark of 45.3. The 16-time All-Star has shot below 45.0 percent in every game thus far.
Carlos Boozer added 20 points Tuesday as the Lakers cut a 17-point deficit to three with 37 seconds left. Los Angeles, giving up an NBA-worst 111.9 points per contest, allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 52.6 percent.
"I guess it just kind of sums up our season thus far," point guard Jeremy Lin said. "We did enough to learn and be there and didn’t do enough to win."
The Pelicans (3-3) had limited teams to an average of 95.2 points in their first five games before falling 118-111 at Cleveland on Monday. Ryan Anderson scored 32 points off the bench while Anthony Davis added 27 and 14 rebounds, but New Orleans had no answer defensively for the Cavaliers, who made 13 3-pointers and shot 48.1 percent from beyond the arc.
"In order for you to become one of the best you have to play the best and learn from them," Davis said. "I love playing against LeBron (James) and the Cavs. They’re a tough team. They have three players who can score the ball at will. We broke down defensively. They scored 118 points. We can’t allow teams to do that."
The Pelicans, though, may be able to stifle the Lakers on the perimeter – Los Angeles gets only 15.4 percent of its 102.7 points per game from beyond the arc, ranking 28th.
Davis is averaging 24.8 points to go along with NBA bests of 13.0 boards and 4.2 blocks per game.
"He’s one of the elite players," James said. "It doesn’t compare to anybody."
Davis averaged 25.0 points on 62.2 percent shooting as New Orleans took two of three from Los Angeles last season, snapping an 11-game losing streak in the series.
Despite the Lakers’ early struggles, New Orleans knows better than to take them lightly.
"They have Kobe. And they have some veterans on their team that have won a lot of games in Boozer and Lin," coach Monty Williams said. "They look like they battle and scrap every game.
"We have to go out and play a lot better than we played (Monday) night."
Bryant, who didn’t face the Pelicans last season due to injury, is averaging 28.1 points against them for his highest career mark against any team. He finished with 42 and 12 assists during his last visit to New Orleans, a 108-102 victory March 6, 2013.
Lin and Boozer are averaging 17.0 and 16.3 points, respectively, over the last three games.
The Lakers will again be without guard Wayne Ellington Jr., who has been granted an indefinite leave of absence after his father was shot and killed over the weekend. He is averaging 7.8 points off the bench.