Lakers guard Kobe Bryant struggled against Detroit, going eight-of-22… (Carlos Osorio / Associated…)
1. The Lakers faltered in their late-game execution in their 88-85 overtime loss Tuesday over the Detroit Pistons. Aside from Kobe Bryant's 19-foot elbow jumper that sent the game into overtime, the Lakers executed horribly late in the game. Let's start with the final play. Bryant threw up an off-balance three-pointer with six seconds left as if he had only a second on the clock, leading to Metta World Peace grabbing the rebound and throwing an off-balance three-point try just before time expired. Bryant had hoisted a rushed three-pointer with 32 seconds left. Pau Gasol made two silly fouls. And the Lakers allowed Rodney Stuckey to get two easy mid-range shots.
In the fourth quarter, a similar story happened. Instead of feeding Andrew Bynum inside, Gasol passed out to World Peace to shoot a badly timed three-pointer. Gasol also tried to make a fancy behind-the-back pass to Bynum, but the ball just went out of bounds. It's bad enough the Lakers had to struggle against Detroit. But they suddenly lacked composure on offense when it counted.
2. Kobe Bryant was a ball hog. His 22 points on eight-of-26 shooting says it all. Whether he wore a lighter black mask (one-of-six) or a small version of his original clear mask (seven-of-20), Bryant couldn't score at the same prolific rate that he had in the last three games. During that stretch, Bryant averaged 34 points per game and rode his hot hand. Against Detroit, Bryant kept forcing himself to find a rhythm. That's usually a bad idea.
3. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol dominated inside, but didn't get the ball enough. Bryant is only warranted to shoot a high volume of shots if he has a hot hand or no one else is producing and playing aggressively enough. That was hardly the case with Bynum (30 points on 13-of-18 clip, 14 rebounds) and Gasol (20 points on eight-of-14 clip, 10 boards). Most of their production hinged on them throwing lobs or bounce passes to each other, Steve Blake lobbing to Bynum or the two getting putbacks. Bryant did set the two up at times. But not often enough.
The Lakers need Bryant to remain aggressive to keep the defenses honest. The turnovers that Gasol (five) and Bynum (three) committed were also inexcusable. But Bryant's shots often came at the expense of actual ball movement and spacing, which play a larger part in getting the Lakers' front line good looks.
4. The Lakers bench played poorly. The unit allowed Detroit to go on a 15-4 second-quarter run. They combined for seven points on one-of-seven shooting. And aside from Blake's lobs to Bynum and Andrew Goudelock's shots, they didn't appear comfortable running the offense.
5. The Lakers showed that their development remains flimsy. The Lakers followed their most impressive win of the season with their worst loss. They couldn't control Detroit in transition (19 fastbreak points). The Lakers didn't run their offense correctly. And they didn't have the energy and effort of their win over Miami. Attribute some of that to playing down to an opponent, but it also shows that the Lakers' are a work in progress.
Lakers lose to Detroit in overtime, 88-85, as Kobe Bryant struggles
Kobe Bryant to wear black mask against Detroit