Injuries are forcing the Los Angeles Lakers to use Kobe Bryant
as a point guard, and his coach, Mike D’Antoni, is continuing to
feud with Pau Gasol.
Oh, and the Lakers are also mired in their longest losing streak
of the season after a lopsided defeat last time out.
While some of their other woes might not go away quickly, the
Lakers will at least try to snap a three-game skid Saturday night
by sending the host Charlotte Bobcats to a season-high third
Already missing point guards Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar to
injuries, the Lakers won’t have Steve Blake for at least six weeks
because of a torn ligament in his right elbow. That meant Los
Angeles (10-12) had to find a substitute in Bryant, who was playing
his third game Friday since returning from a torn left
The Lakers star had 13 assists – two shy of matching a career
high – but scored just four points on 2-of-6 shooting in a 122-97
drubbing in Oklahoma City, which dropped Los Angeles to 0-3 since
Bryant, who had 20 points in a 114-108 loss to Phoenix on
Tuesday, sat out the fourth quarter. The team’s two leading scorers
– Nick Young (17 points) and Xavier Henry (15) – in Friday’s game
“There is no secret formula that you can sprinkle out there,”
D’Antoni said. “(Bryant will) get more comfortable, then the guys
will get more comfortable around him and then he’ll do a better
Gasol had 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds
against the Thunder after D’Antoni responded sharply to his
criticism of his role in the offense. The Lakers coach told the
league’s website before Friday’s game that Gasol’s discomfort was
“a nice excuse not to play hard.”
“The message is the same to everybody: Just play hard and we’ll
figure it out,” D’Antoni added. “If you don’t play hard, it’s hard
to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.”
Gasol is shooting a career-low 42.3 percent this season but has
made 12 of 21 shots (57.1 percent) in the past two contests and
will try to keep that going against the Bobcats (10-13).
Charlotte won back-to-back games and topped 100 points in its
first two games without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is out four to
six weeks because of a broken hand, before losing its past two.
The Bobcats shot 36.9 percent in a 92-83 loss to Orlando on
Wednesday and had a three-game home win streak snapped. Charlotte
then failed to pull out a competitive game Friday against the team
with the league’s best record.
The Bobcats led Indiana by one point with 4:19 to go but scored
just four points down the stretch in a 99-94 loss.
”We had them where we wanted,” said center Al Jefferson, who
had a team-best 21 points and nine rebounds. “We didn’t do a great
job getting back on defense. We played a heck of a game. We had a
chance there at the end to be exactly where we wanted to against a
good team. We were right there.”
Charlotte has lost four straight to the Lakers but had won three
consecutive home matchups before a 100-93 loss Feb. 8. Bryant had
20 points in that victory, and he’s averaged 28.7 in 16 career
matchups, his most against any opponent.