The Lakers lost to the Atlanta Hawks 100-87, just two days after beating the Washington Wizards, ending their winning streak at one game. D’Angelo Russell played a team high 36 minutes(!!!) and the Kobe farewell tour continued. The man known as the Black Mamba played 35 minutes and shot 4-19 on the floor a day after a black mamba became known as Kobe. The crowd was receptive in Bryant’s last game in Atlanta, with chants of “Ko-be” breaking out at several points during the game.
The game was pretty ugly all around. The Lakers were down by 18 at one point, but pulled within 4 in the 4th quarter. The Hawks shot 50% from the floor with only one player not scoring (Lamar Patterson). They also showed excellent ball movement on their way to 24 assists. The Lakers shot 37% from the floor, but managed to shoot 48% from beyond the arc. Not bad for a team coached by the anti-three pointer Byron Scott.
The big stories tonight (and a common theme for the season) were rotation related. Specifically, why Jordan Clarkson didn’t play in the 4th quarter, and why Nicholas Young didn’t play at all. Young recently had some negative comments about the team after the loss to the Sixers and since, he has not played any time. Byron was questioned for playing Kobe for 35 minutes, and he told Mark Medina a very interesting and confusing statement. He claimed that he kept Kobe in because his shots were falling. Kobe was 4-19 for the game, where as Clarkson (29 minutes) shot 5-8, a significantly better percentage.
Also in question was the Lakers’ continually baffling habit of closing out games with Brandon Bass at the center position. This is clearly an attempt by Scott to play small ball, but it’s not exactly working out. Bass cannot be an effective rim protector at his size, and his offensive contribution has been insignificant this season (he scored 4 points on 2-5 in the contest).
Byron started to lose the fan base long ago, but unless major changes are made to the rotation soon, he could lose his job. Despite what recent reports have detailed, I don’t see any universe in which the front office is happy with him. We’ll just have to wait and see.