Add Tuesday night to the list of bad losses the Los Angeles Lakers have suffered in the 2012-2013 season.
L.A. dropped to 8-10 with their 107-105 loss to the Houston Rockets. They led by as much as 17 points in the game, and 13 in the fourth, only to give up 34 points in the final period.
Kobe Bryant had another big scoring night, putting up 39 points, before missing the potential game-winning three-pointer. He continues to lead the NBA in scoring with 27.9 points per game. He leads Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and LeBron James in the early race for the scoring title.
Unlike Bryant, all those players’ teams have winning records. The New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat are in the top five in the league in winning percentage. The Lakers wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
While the best teams in basketball seem to thrive when their stars score a lot, Los Angeles may be suffering from the reverse effect.
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Is Bryant’s high scoring averaging hurting Los Angeles? The numbers certainly point in that direction.
In the Lakers 10 losses, Bryant is averaging 33 points per game. In the team’s eight wins, he is only putting up 21.6 points per contest.
Bryant’s biggest scoring outputs have resulted in L.A. losses. The Lakers are 1-7 when the shooting guard scores 30 points or more. Conversely, the Lakers play better when they don’t rely on Bryant for scoring. They are undefeated at 3-0 when Bryant doesn’t reach the 20-point mark, winning those games by an average of 25 points..
To make up for the injury of Steve Nash and the ineffectiveness of Pau Gasol, Bryant sometimes has tried to do too much. This has lead to him scoring more points, but it’s also forced him to make more mistakes. The veteran is averaging 3.3 assists and 4.7 turnovers in L.A. losses, but seven assists and three turnovers in wins.
Despite his statistical splits, Bryant’s scoring likely isn’t one of the top reasons that the Lakers are under .500. Gasol is putting up the worst numbers of his career, and Mike D’Antoni is missing the elite point guard in Nash to run his offense. Dwight Howard is also to blame, missing key free throws down the stretch, and failing to be the force in the paint that won him the Defensive Player of the Year award for three consecutive seasons.
The Lakers problems run much deeper than Bryant. Their big frontcourt was supposed to stymie opposing offenses, but they have only been a middle of the pack defensive unit. They are also relying on Darius Morris and Chris Duhon to run the offense, a tremendous downgrade from the currently injured Nash.
Bryant may score more in the Lakers' losses, but he also shoots for a higher field-goal percentage. L.A.’s blow out wins when Bryant scores less than 20 points could be explained by the rest he receives when the game is in hand so early.
However, it can’t be denied that there is a correlation between Bryant’s scoring and the team’s win-loss record. Perhaps when Los Angeles becomes fully healthy, the 17-year veteran won’t be forced to try and put up so many points.