The Lakers were playing inspired basketball while they awaited the return of Kobe Bryant. The team was only 10-9 before Bryant’s return, but they played much better than many expected through the season’s first 19 games. The Lakers lost a few close contests that many expected Bryant to fix upon his return.
Instead, the Lakers are now 0-3 since Bryant’s return, and have struggled integrating him with the new roster while simultaneously dealing with injuries to all three point guards. Bryant was asked about the Lakers not finding a win in the first three games of his return, and said he’s not really worried about it, according to the Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding.
“I’m not worried about it, to be honest with you,” Bryant said. “We’ve seen worse. I mean, we forget kind of what we had to go through last year. I’m not really too concerned about it. Our heart is in the right place.
“I saw a lot of positives. We’ve just got to put it together for longer stretches. We’ll be fine.”
Bryant is likely referring to last season as the team was never able to put things together despite having a roster that was built to contend for a championship. Instead, the Lakers snuck into the playoffs as the eighth seed and were swept out of the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
This year, the off-the-court issues have been mild when compared to what the Lakers went through last season, but they have been there. In recent days, both Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni have called each out via the media, but have since tried to smooth things over. Gasol told Ding, “I can only control myself. I can only control what I do […]. For the most part, I think you have to make yourself responsible.” On the other end, D’Antoni spoke to the team before the game against the Thunder.
Mike D’Antoni delivered an effective clear-the-air, unifying message to the team at the morning shootaround, then raved about Pau Gasol’s improvement, and the team still went on to a 25-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers play the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night, and will look to earn their first win of the season with Bryant back in the lineup. The only thing they can do to make things easier on themselves off the court may be to take care of business on it — and tonight presents a great opportunity for the Lakers to get back in the win column.
The Kobe Prelude Experience: Prelude 1