The Lakers lost again last night, and their performance has been so sub-par lately that hearing them lose is no longer coming as a surprise.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: They are going to have to step up their game in a lot of areas if they want to be a competitive team in the Western Conference this season.
It happened again. The NBA's most glamorous team earned another "L" and are once again under .500 on the season.
The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Orlando Magic at home last night and are now 8-9 overall this year. They currently have the league's most expensive roster and are arguably one of the best NBA lineups on paper, yet can't seem to find their groove.
And this just isn't sitting well with players and coaches, especially Kobe Bryant.
When Bryant was asked to comment on the play of Pau Gasol as of late, he had these words to say to the media in regards to his teammate:
"Put your big-boy pants on. Just adjust. Just adjust. You can't whine about it. You can't complain about it," Bryant said.
Kobe was of course asked this question because for the second time in five games, Gasol was benched for the final minutes of the quarter. And why? Well, he had just 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting in 29 minutes of play. Not to mention, he's been playing extremely soft for a guy who's supposed to be one of the premier 7-foot big men in the NBA.
"Just talk to him," Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said about Gasol. "There's no magic words out there. He's going to have to play. He still had 11 and seven and he's playing, but we just have to be a more dynamic team. We're slow right now. It's just athletically, we're struggling."
And D'Antoni has a point. The Lakers are struggling athletically. They are consistently getting beat on defense, often times in transition. They have talented players no question, but some are older and starting to look their age on the court. (Kobe's 34, Metta's 33, Pau's 32 and Nash is 38 - Nash hasn't been playing but he isn't going to bring youth to the lineup when he returns.) Gasol even told reporters last week that he has been battling knee problems all season and that the persistent pain from tendinitis is limiting his athleticism.
"The reality is, I've adjusted," Gasol said. I've never run this many screen-rolls in my entire career. I'm used to being in the post much, much more but you have to adjust."
Clearly, Pau is having trouble with the new system in LA. And it's easy and obvious to say the problem with the Lakers has been mainly the result of Gasol's poor play but let's not forget, they have other issues too. Steve Blake is now getting surgery that will have him out for 6-8 more weeks, Nash is still injured, and Metta World Peace (as much as I'm a MWP fan) is jacking up shots on offense like he's Michael Jordan. Also, as great of a player as Dwight Howard may be, he can barely make a free throw to save his life and spends a lot of time at the line. Howard is having his worst free-throw shooting year of his career this year, averaging just 46.5%. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world except for the fact that he averages at least 11 attempts per game, so his misses have an impact.
One thing is certain, which Kobe Bryant said yesterday, and that is that failure is not an option.
On making the necessary adjustments to win games, Kobe said:
"I'll kick everybody's ass in this locker room it that doesn't happen. Like I said, come hell or high water, it has to get done."
What to do you think, Hoopsvibers? Will the Lakeshow turn it around and be a force in the Western Conference? Or are they destined to not make the playoffs? Leave you comments below!
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Image source: AP Images