Kobe Bryant decided not to tweet his coaching pointers Wednesday night. The injured Bryant had done that during Game 1 of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, and acted surprised when that became a story all its own.
“I see my tweeting during the game is being talked about as much as the game itself,” he wrote. “Not my intention, just bored as I guess #notagain.”
So there was no Bryant presence for Game 2. Not on the floor, not on the sideline, not in the ether.
And that was boring. Man, oh, man, was it boring. What was it, 102-91? What difference does it make?
The Lakers and Spurs are playing a suspenseless series. The Spurs’ backcourt is dominating it, but that’s not surprising. Lakers guard Steve Nash is trying his heart out, but nonetheless performing a nice, little “Dad on the couch” routine. He’s got multiple injuries. He can barely move. You get the impression that if he had to get down to fix the sink he might get stuck down there, locked into a cemented crescent until somebody came home to drag him out.
The Spurs are not exactly young and rubbery back there, either, and maybe another team could take advantage of a backcourt relying on 30-somethings Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who are still dealing with ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively. But not the Lakers, and not with Nash.
“I’m not moving that well,” Nash said a couple days ago.
When a 39-year-old basketball player tells you he’s not moving that well, you’re looking at a man who is really not moving well.
This was supposed to be one of those “one last push” rosters for the Lakers. Bryant (34), Nash (39) and Dwight Howard (young) composed the hastily assembled nucleus of a team that was supposed to challenge the Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference championship.
Instead, the seventh-seeded Lakers began the fourth quarter of Game 2 down 10 and Nash, with a couple fresh squirts from the oil can dripping down his back, leading a lineup that was giving important minutes to Darius Morris and Earl Clark.
The best part of it all for the Lakers was that Howard seems to have been energized by suddenly being the best player on his team again. Enthusiasm has not been a reliable part of his repertoire the last couple of years, but he had it turned up Wednesday. He and Pau Gasol have a physical advantage over San Antonio’s frontcourt, and during the fleeting moments it has appeared the Lakers were “in the series” Howard and Gasol have been the reasons why.
But the Lakers are not in the series. They are down 0-2 and they cannot score. They had 79 points in Game 1. That number went all the way up to 91 in Game 2, which was good, except that San Antonio had that many halfway through the fourth quarter.
The Lakers have not yet given the Spurs a single thing to worry about in this series. And, remember, the Lakers were a discombobulation with Bryant in the lineup.
So that’s the narrative, and it looks pretty bleak, but so do the data. San Antonio shot 51 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line Wednesday. The Lakers pressured the Spurs into all of eight turnovers.
And however fired up he sometimes looked, Howard still ended up with what the Spurs will consider a manageable 16 points and nine rebounds, only barely outplaying Duncan (16 and five). He and Gasol combined to go 12-for-26 from the field.
So that’s the series. Bryant says he’s done tweeting about it because he doesn’t want to be a distraction. But maybe that’s not it.