So far, the Los Angeles Lakers’ “win now” philosophy isn’t working.
The Lakers dropped to 1-4 after a 95-86 loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night and, although everyone from executive vice-president Jim Buss to Kobe Bryant to Dwight Howard is using “patience” as a mantra, nerves are fraying a tad.
“You don’t start 0-3 for the first time since we’ve owned the franchise without being on top of it,” Buss said (via ESPN LosAngeles.com) “No matter what, you have to be aware. That doesn’t mean change is coming. That just means you have to be aware.”
Steve Nash, one of the team’s “win-now” offseason acquisitions, is injured and is expected to be out another couple of weeks. Dwight Howard and the team had little time to play together in preseason because of his offseason back surgery. Although Bryant was fuming during the game, Buss isn’t pointing the finger at the team’s coach.
“I have no problems with Mike Brown at all,” Buss said. “He just works too hard and he’s too knowledgeable for this to be happening. So either the system is flawed or something’s going on. Or, like the Triangle, it’s very hard to pick up and understand. I’m not a basketball mind like he is or the players are, and the players are fine with it, so I just have to be patient.”
The Lakers’ new Princeton offense has been a target of criticism, with Charles Barkley saying, “I want my accountant from Princeton, not my offense.”
Bryant, who had 29 points and six turnovers Wednesday, stared down Brown, according to ESPN, when he was sitting on the bench during a timeout late in the game. He also left a few seconds before it was over and, when asked if he was frustrated after the game, sarcastically replied, “Just a little bit.” Asked if he had specifics, he replied, “None that I care to share.”
Including preseason, the Lakers are 1-12. Buss may be patient, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t taken the temperature of the team’s indisputable leader. “Kobe and I have a relationship where he can just look at me and say, ‘Everything’s cool.’ So yesterday during practice, I gave Kobe a quick glance, and everything was cool.”
Which brings us back to that mantra, patience.
“I think sometimes as a team we got to be able to not really show our frustrations that much,” Howard said. “A lot of the guys look at me and Kobe and they feed off us, so we have to do a better job of keeping our frustrations on the inside and just playing through it so our teammates won’t get down on themselves. So, we just got to do a better job at that.
“I know [Kobe] was a little frustrated tonight. He wants to win just as bad as all of us do, but we just got to stay together, remember it’s a process, and stay focused.”