At least it’s only the pre-season.
In their sixth game before opening night, the Lakers shot 5-19 for 26.3% in the first quarter when they only managed to score 14 points to Utah’s 24. Misses came from behind the 3-point line, from mid-range as well as mere inches from the hoop. The defending champions might’ve left their offense in Los Angeles County because they couldn’t find the hoop tonight if they’d been standing in it.
The starters couldn’t get, well, started quickly enough. Pau Gasol, one of the team’s (heck, one of the league’s) most efficient scorers, didn’t get his first shot in until a minute left in the first quarter. He managed 11 points on 5-13 shooting, eight rebounds and two steals for the night. With Kobe Bryant still clearly trying to work through his conditioning, strength and timing on the floor, Gasol is offensive option #2 for the team. The only silver lining in his performance in tonight’s game is that his struggles in scoring are a rare sighting.
Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant shot no better than Gasol. They suffered early and throughout the game. Fisher was scoreless, going 0-6 and Bryant managed just seven points.
Enter the second unit. The Lakers coaching staff have been experimenting with various line-ups with the team’s enhanced group of reserves, and tonight may have provided a winning formula in Steve Blake, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff – BenchMob 2.0, if you will.
Behind by ten points in the second quarter, BM 2.0 went to work. Blake put in a driving layup, Barnes hit a corner three, Shannon Brown converted on another jumper, then Blake hit a three; and in the midst of this scoring run was the master passer himself, Lamar Odom, who led the game in assists with nine dimes.
The second half was more productive for Pau Gasol, but it was more of the same otherwise. Each time the Lakers came to within a few points of the Jazz’s score, they would go limp on defense and allow another Utah run. It didn’t help that they ended the evening shooting a paltry 33.3% from the field and a mere 6-21 from behind the arc.
There is still much to learn for the newcomers and much more to refresh for everyone else. The defending Champions have a week to figure it all out.
Pre-Game Thoughts: Five pre-season games down, three more to go!
Half-Time Thoughts: 38-32 – Utah is shooting 44%, while the Lakers are shooting 30% (12-40). The Lakers are lucky they’re only down by 6.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Lakers offense – being that there was barely any to be identified.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Working B’s – Barnes, Blake and Brown, the only players, other than starter Pau Gasol, who scored in double digits and together shot 48% from the field. They produced 36 points off the bench, accounting for almost half of the Lakers’ score.