Lakers fans have been in a state of panic since their team looked horrible in an opening night loss to the Mavericks, who (by the way) were playing without an injured Dirk Nowitzki.
Kobe Bryant and the rest of the team might be ready to join them. Although they were pretty calm after the game and not near the DEFCON 1 level that fans seem to be at.
L.A. fell to the Clippers on Friday night, in a game that wasn’t really all that close. As odd as it is to say, the Clips’ core is somewhat established after playing together last season, while that of the Lakers is obviously still trying to find itself.
As the natives get more and more restless and impatient with the slow (or perhaps nonexistent) development to this point, Bryant was asked when it might be time to hit the panic button. His response was dry and sarcastic, but with a realization that the time to get things going in another direction was nearing, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:
“We’re hitting the panic button now,” Bryant said in a somewhat obligatory manner after a reporter asked if the team was reaching for an imaginary knob. “That’s what we’re supposed to do. This is our job. We’re not supposed to just kind of coast and just assume things are going to fix themselves. We got to push at it.”
This doesn’t mean the team is panicking just yet, of course. But it does mean that Bryant understands the sense of urgency for he and his mates to show some improvement, and to do it quickly.
Lakers head coach Mike Brown, however, might actually be feeling the pressure.
Brown admitted afterward he overworked Bryant, who missed over a week’s worth of time to end the preseason with a foot injury.
“We need a win, obviously. I’m not trying to fool anybody here. We do need a win. You hope we could have gotten one tonight,” Brown said. “That’s part of why (Bryant) played the minutes that he played, which was too many.”
Bryant played brilliantly, logging 43 minutes and pouring in 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting. But that’s not why the Lakers got Dwight Howard and Steve Nash (who missed this one with a leg contusion), and Brown showed he was pressing by leaving Bryant out there so long while he’s still recovering from that injury.
Bryant said he was playing on one leg and told reporters in the locker room after the game that he felt like his right foot was “about to fall off” during the game.
The Lakers host Detroit on Sunday, which should be the perfect opportunity for the team to notch its first win of the season. If it doesn’t come then (whether Nash is available to return or not), don’t count on it happening Wednesday night in Utah against a much better team, in a much tougher environment.
And if the losing streak to start the season should reach five, then you’ll see what panic truly looks like.