Catching Up on the Lakers

Boy, go out of town for a week, and you can miss a lot. Let’s see, have the Lakers’ been in the news?

OK, the vacationing millionaire will now have the next ten months off, with his torn rotator cuff. I sure hope that is not his counting arm or the one he uses to lift his pina coladas. Not being able to play basketball once a week is bad enough, but imagine Kobe not being able to count any of his $23 million for ten months or to have to hire yet another servant to lift those heavy cocktails up to his lips.

On to the important stuff, but first a look back in basketball history.

During the 1995 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament, the National Champion UCLA Bruins made it through the West bracket due in great part to the heroics of point guard Tyus Edney, who with barely three seconds remaining sprinted the length of the court and laid the ball in for a last-split-second one-point win over Missouri. But, in the semi-final game against Oklahoma State, Edney injured his right hand, and began the title game in pain. Doing his job
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and actually watching the game, Bruins’ coach Jim Herrick saw Edney try to play left handed, and quickly pulled him from the game, replacing him with backup Cameron Dollar, who quarterbacked the team to their 11th NCAA title.

Conversely, on Wednesday night, after Kobe injured his shoulder and attempted to play left-handed, the snoozing, entranced Byron Scott was totally oblivious to what was happening, and let Kobe play one-handed for three minutes before he was told what was going on and pulled him from the game. I’ve frequently commented on the fact that during games Scott seems to be in a trance, staring off into space, as if the game were a mere afterthought, a fly on the windshield of his vision of the world, and left alone to manage itself. That hit a new height (or, actually, low) against New Orleans on Wednesday, with Scott totally missing the fact and importance of what was happening.

But, fear not, Scott sprang into action before Friday’s game against San Antonio, and re-vamped his lineup, (at whose suggestion is anyone’s guess) and made some much needed, long overdue changes, with the team’s future clearly in mind. The new-look, Kobeless squad featured not one, not two, not three, but four new starters, and a couple of them were good moves. Starting Wayne Ellington was a no-brainer, as he is all the team
has to replace Kobe in the starting lineup, and Ellington has been a decent fill-in in games the vacationing millionaire has chosen to miss over the past few weeks. He scored a very reasonable 11 points in 28 minutes against the Spurs. Stating Robert Scare, on the other hand, raises lots of
questions, including most of all the “huh?” Sacre has been a non-entity for weeks, playing poorly and getting worse and worse over the game time he has had recently. Last night was no different, with him contributing little while shooting 25%.

Conversely, Jordan Clarkson and Ryan Kelly getting starting nods was excellent to see happen. At the start of the season, the only player then on the Lakers’ active roster who could have a real future with the team was Clarkson, and the team has cried out for an NBA-caliber point guard since game one. Jeremy Lin has been woefully inconsistent, showing ability one game and none the next. After giving up on Lin, in an incomprehensible move Scott installed ronnie price as the starter, and he has gotten what he has paid for – the worst shooter in the NBA in typical fashion scored zero points last night, going oh-for-four in 19 minutes as a reserve. Over the last three seasons, price has shot 33%, and is an embarrassment to Scott, to the team and to the league that a player of

his limited ability has been a key player for what use to be a marque franchise. Scott refused to use Clarkson at all in game after game, calling into question even more Scott's qualifications as an NBA coach. Now he has been forced to use Clarkson, and in his start last night, he hit five-of-nine shots, scored 11 points and handed off for four assists in 29 minutes. There is no acceptable reason other than injury for Clarkson not starting every game the rest of the season.
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Kelly began the season on the injured list, where he had spent much of his rookie year, but since his activation has shown ability and flashes of just why he was picked in the 2013 draft. There is no reason why he should not continue to get time on the court to hone his skills, gain experience, and see if he can be a legitimate NBA front court player.

The other guy that mysteriously did not play last night but who has done well since being acquired from Houston, is Tarik Black, and he should also get a chance to play significant minutes as the Lakers play out what will be their worst season since 1957-8. What do they have to lose?

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