Analysis: Lakers disjointed since Bryant's injury comeback

Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:51pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Like a jigsaw puzzle where a new piece has been inserted that does not seem to fit, the Los Angeles Lakers have been decidedly disjointed since Kobe Bryant's long-awaited return from injury.

After delivering a surprise 10-9 start to the season with a makeshift lineup amid assorted injury problems, the stumbling Lakers have gone 0-3 since their star player's comeback against the Toronto Raptors on December 8.

A smooth return was never likely for the rusty Bryant, who was sidelined since mid-April after a torn left Achilles' tendon that required surgery, but his presence in the Lakers' lineup appears to have jolted the youthful synergy established earlier this season.

Shooting guard Bryant, a 15-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion, is averaging 11 points and shooting only 38.5 percent in his first three games.

The 35-year-old scored just four points on two-for-six shooting while recording 13 assists and seven turnovers in his latest outing, against the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Friday when the Lakers were pummeled 122-97.

"We will get better," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters after his team took on Oklahoma City without all three of their injured point guards - Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.

"Check in on us in a couple of weeks and see how we're doing."

'BRYANT FACTOR'   Continued...

Dec 13, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) dribbles the ball around Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher (6) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports