After playing well for three quarters, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered another fourth quarter collapse and fell to the Toronto Raptors, 102-91. While D’Angelo Russell had a career-high night with 17 points, Kobe Bryant played 37 minutes, which exceeded his season average.
With the 2015-16 NBA season underway, the Lakers are 2-10 and one of the numerous issues plaguing this team is ball movement, especially in fourth quarters.
Following the loss to the Raptors, Kobe preached ball movement with his teammates, which is a pleasant surprise according to Lakers.com:
“Well, I never thought I’d see the day when I become the voice of ‘ball movement, reason,” you know you have an issue. You know what I’m saying, I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be the one preaching that stuff. That’s crazy.”
Throughout his career, Kobe has been labeled as a selfish teammate. With the five-time champion only averaging 16.1 points on 34 percent shooting, he has recently adapted his game in becoming more of a facilitator and hope his teammates follow his lead. In the last two games Kobe has played, he is averaging 7.0 assists and ball movement has improved in spurts.
For the Lakers to close out games, the ball movement will need to continue in fourth quarters. In addition, the Lakers need to improve contesting perimeter shots as they allowed the Raptors to make 15 threes on 45.5 percent shooting.
With Kobe stressing the importance of ball movement, it will be interesting to see how the team responds when they face the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday at 6:30 PM PST.