Lakers’ 102-98 loss to Dallas feature issues beyond Kobe Bryant’s absence

first_imgDALLAS — The game started off so poorly that it took only three minutes for Lakers coach Byron Scott to warn his players he would clear the bench. The clanks sounded louder each time the ball hit off the rim, leaving the Lakers endlessly displaying their frustration over their inaccurate shooting.Despite reaching striking distance in a game that seemed more lopsided than the score indicated, the Lakers still found a way to lose, 102-98, to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday at American Airlines Arena.Could the Lakers (9-21) have collected a rare victory had Kobe Bryant not sat out his third consecutive game to recover from fatigue and soreness?“He averages 25 (points) so probably. I’m not going to allow myself to go there,” Scott said. “When I decide to rest him I don’t think about ‘What if.’ Those guys that are playing, they’re professionals. They’ve got to come with the attitude that we’ve still got a chance to win the game.” RELATED: Scott: Bryant “feels pretty good” for Sunday’s game vs. Phoenix at Staples CenterInstead, Scott was left thinking about other areas that contributed to the Lakers’ two-game losing streak.The Lakers somehow chipped away a 16-point deficit and a 36.4 percent shooting clip from the field in the final minutes. They cut Dallas’ lead to 102-98 with 3.8 seconds left after capping a 10-2 run that included a Wesley Johnson four-point play, and 3-pointers from Nick Young and Wayne Ellington.But despite falling into the foul penalty with 9:23 left in the game, the Lakers rarely fouled Mavericks guard Rajon Rondo, who has shot 33.3 percent from the free-throw line. “I didn’t really think about it at that time,” Scott said. “It was something that I probably should have been thinking about.” The Lakers’ issues went beyond not forcing Rondo to the foul line. When Rondo wasn’t posting a season-high 21 points, he was doling out seven assists, including plenty of lobs to center Tyson Chandler (15 points). Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 points to surpass Elvin Hayes for eighth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, prompting Bryant to congratulate him afterwards. And the Lakers conceded 56 points in the paint. Meanwhile, the Lakers struggled on offense without Bryant. He couldn’t bail them out with a scoring binge. Nor did Bryant’s teammates enjoy the same luxury of open shots they have when he plays. That left Johnson (11 points on 3-of-14 shooting), Young (15 points on 5-of-16 shooting), Jeremy Lin (five points on 2-of-8 shooting) and Ronnie Price (seven points on 3-of-9 shooting) throwing their hands up and sighing in frustration after each missed shot. “We always need Kobe out there,” Young said. “Kobe’s been in so many different situations and one of the best to do it. Without him there, we have to figure out different ways for ourselves.”Carlos Boozer (18 points on 9-of-16 shooting) and Jordan Hill (13 points on 6-of-13 shooting) provided more on offense, but Scott faulted how his team’s front line set screens for his guards. All of these struggles hardly match the Lakers starting off the game trailing 10-0 with 9:21 left in the first quarter, leaving Scott to threaten a bench clearing. “Just trying to figure out a way to make these guys understand how important it is to come out and play every single night,” Scott said. “We can’t afford to come out lackadaisical.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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