There is no denying the turmoil these Los Angeles Lakers have become to start the 2015-2016 season, attaining a 2-12 record through 14 games behind abysmal shooting from Kobe Bryant.
Everyone believed the Portland Trail Blazers were headed toward disaster after they lost four of their five starters, but it’s the Lakers sitting at the bottom of the Western conference with their atrocious play.
Bryant comes into Saturday night’s bout averaging 15.2 points and a career-low 31.1 percent shooting from the field to go along with 19.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
In Los Angeles’ most recent game, which was on Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors, Bryant put up just four points on 1 of 14 shooting as the Lakers were routed 111-77.
After the game, Bryant had some interesting things to say about his inefficient shooting.
“I was just frustrated tonight and it took me out of my mental focus,” Bryant uttered. “I could’ve scored 80 tonight and it wouldn’t have made a damn difference. We have bigger problems. I could be out there averaging 35 points a game and we would be what, 3-11? See what I’m saying? We’ve got to figure out how to play systematically in a position that’s going to keep us in ball games.” (via Serena Winters)
The Lakers were thoroughly dominated by the Warriors Tuesday night. Lou Williams, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance led the way with 10 points apiece.
The Blazers and Lakers have already met once this season which was last Sunday in Los Angeles. In what was a close game throughout, Portland pulled away late to earn a 14-point victory behind Damian Lillard, who erupted in the fourth quarter to finish with 30 points, 13 assists, and six rebounds.
However, the Blazers most recently played the Chicago Bulls at home and were shut down offensively, as they shot just 35.2 percent from the field as a team. Lillard was held to 19 points on 4 of 22 shooting but added 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Of course stopping Lillard has been an issue for the Lakers since the All-Star guard joined the league. Last season alone Lillard averaged 27.0 points and 6.3 assists on 56.7 percent shooting against L.A. Perhaps throwing hard double teams on Lillard to allow others to beat them will be the key for the Lakers.
But the overwhelming problem for Los Angeles, outside of defense, has been their ball movement or lack thereof. The Lakers are near the bottom in assists per game, as Coach Byron Scott has been essentially addressing the issue after each game.
“We don’t have chemistry problems. Our guys get along. They just don’t trust each other on the floor,” Coach Scott said.
The Blazers have defeated the Lakers six consecutive times, beating them by a margin of 12 points per game.
The Lakers will look to put an end to Portland’s dominance Saturday night at 10 pm Eastern Time at the Moda Center.