Say what you want about Kobe Bryant and his shot-happy gunning, but he carries a lot of respect, so he expects his teammates to play their hearts out in order to keep pace. We doubt Nick Young would have gotten away with slouching through this defensive possession opposite Corey Brewer in last night’s 98-87 Lakers loss to the Rockets if Bryant hadn’t been sidelined with a torn rotator cuff.
Only the Timberwolves give up more points per possession than the Lakers, and opponents are shooting 36.9 percent from deep — the fourth highest in the Association — against them. This possession acts as a prime example why.
Follow Young’s chicken-with-its-head-cut-off defense. The ball gets passed to Josh Smith on the opposite wing, and Young starts to move towards the iron, leaving his man — Brewer — alone in the short corner. Josh Smith is a dreadful shooter, but Young is right to hedge towards the rim as a possible help defender. But when the ball is passed out to Jason Terry on Young’s side, he just melts into the miasma of Lakers defenders already under the rim rather than sprint out on Brewer to contest the shot:
Brewer, not the best shooter in the world, knocks down a short three while Young joins two of his Lakers teammates for a defensive rebound that never comes.
Young was scoreless (0-for-2) in 8:27 of playing time during the loss, getting benched in the second half. No matter what Swaggy definition you give his performance, he still stunk.
It seems the reasoning behind his lack of defensive effort led to the second-half benching. Here’s coach Byron Scott explaining his rationale for the benching, by way of ESPN LA’s Baxter Holmes:
“At halftime, we showed stuff on the tape where he was guarding [Houston swingman Corey] Brewer in the corner. I asked [Young], ‘What were you thinking on his play?’ The answer he gave me, I couldn’t figure it out. So I just felt with his body language that he didn’t want to play tonight, so I chose not to play him.”
Smart choice considering Young slept walked through the first half.
(GIF via reddit/r/NBA)
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