Lakers/Hawks: No Effort, No Fundamentals

Phillip Barnett —  March 31, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder

The Lakers began this road trip winners of six straight, looking to close out the regular season on a high note as they have in the past during championship runs. They went into San Antonio and began the trip with a great win without Andrew Bynum – and the second half of that game was seemingly the last time the Lakers have played with any kind of rhythm. Tonight, the Lakers will be heading back to Los Angeles with a losing record from their five-game road trip after they lost their second straight game of the trip 109-92.

The Lakers seemed to come out in the first quarter determined to play with some extra effort. There was an edge to the Lakers that we hadn’t seen in a long time – but that edge wouldn’t last long. On the first possession of the game, Ron Artest found an open Pau Gasol for an easy dunk, and the Lakers would trade the lead with the Hawks until it was tied at 22 with 2:31 left to play in the first. About a minute later, the Hawks would take the lead after a Zaza Pachulia offensive rebound led to a Jamal Crawford three-pointer. The Lakers would never lead again – but more importantly, it was plays like that which led to a Hawks victory.

The Lakers, as they have been for much of the road trip, were simply out worked. The Hawks didn’t come out of the gate and jump on the Lakers early like the Thunder did, nor did they compile a run anywhere near the 17-1 run the Hornets had against the Lakers in the game before. No, they just out worked, out hustled and out smarted the Lakers for four quarters. For a team as undersized as Atlanta is upfront, there just shouldn’t be any reason why the Lakers are outrebounded by three, especially with the difference between the rebounding totals coming in the offensive rebound column.

For me, what was even more frustrating was their inability to play fundamentally sound basketball. The Lakers weren’t doing things like boxing out. They weren’t using the square on the backboard when they had easy looks at the rim. They made terrible entry passes and didn’t rotate the ball. They didn’t do the things that you’d expect any basketball team to make – from high school freshman teams to defending NBA champions, and this, combined with their lack of effort is why they’re losing games.

There were a few plays in the fourth quarter that really show how little the Lakers are paying attention to fundamentals and working hard:

– With 8:44 left to play, Jordan Farmar hit a three pointer, bringing the lead down to 12 points. If the Lakers were able to just get a couple of stops you would have been able to feel the air coming out of the building, finally shifting the momentum to the Lakers side. Instead of getting those stops, Maurice Evans was able to get past Derek Fisher to drive baseline for an easy layup. On their next possession, Joe Johnson drove past Kobe to get to the rim for another easy deuce to move their lead back up to 17 points. On both plays, rotations were extremely slow. (89-75, Atlanta)

– With 7:07 left to play, Kobe gets to the line and misses both free throws and the Lakers give up a long three-pointer to Joe Johnson. That’s a five-point swing at a crucial point in the game. (92-75, Atlanta).

– After Kobe hit a three-pointer to bring the game down to a 13-point deficit, the Lakers finally go down and get a stop. On the other end of the floor, Pau Gasol gets the ball on left side, and misses a four-foot jump hook off of the front of the rim. A kiss off of the glass brings makes this an 11-point game.

– The Lakers get ANOTHER stop on the Hawks next possession and bring the ball down the floor. Gasol is posting up on the left elbow with Jordan Farmar over-dribbling on the same side. Instead of looking away before making his entry, he looks at Gasol the whole time he has the ball and throws a lazy entry pass which is stolen by Josh Smith, one of the leagues best defenders. The telegraphed pass led to a Joe Johnson three, which he hit from San Antonio. That was the dagger that took away any hopes of a Lakers comeback.

It also doesn’t help when the Lakers bench is outscored by 20 points, 42-22. Jamal Crawford entered the game and was instant offense. Pachulia had a double-double off of the bench and Mauirce Evans scored 18. Without Jordan Farmar’s 16 points, the Lakers bench would have finished with only six points.

If there was any good from tonight’s game, it was from Kobe Bryant who, for the second straight game, seemed to have found his shooting stroke. He hit 12 of 21 shots and finished with 28 points. If he would have knocked down his free throws, he would have scored 30+ in consecutive games for the first time since March 7th and March 9th. Also, Pau Gasol finished with a 16 and 11 double-double. I thought Gasol could have had a huge night tonight. He had some early touches and was able to get Al Horford into early foul trouble. However, the Lakers stopped going to him and he lost any rhythm he had. Gasol finished the first half 3 for 3 while Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown went into the half a combined 1 for 11.

Ron Artest played well on Joe Johnson early in the game, forcing him into a few tough shots, but he ended the game with an extremely quiet 25 points and eight assists. Because of Evans and Crawford’s ability to score, things really opened up for Johnson in the second half to get his numbers.

Tonight’s frustrations aren’t just with the loss to Atlanta, but with all of their recent losses. The Lakers have been lacking three things that every basketball team – from the AAU circuits to defending NBA Champs – need to have: fundamentals, intensity and a sense of urgency. This Lakers team, to be quite frank, hasn’t played with any of those three in recent games. The Lakers have seven games left, three of those against losing teams and four of them at home. The Lakers play again on Friday night back at home against Utah.

Phillip Barnett

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55 responses to Lakers/Hawks: No Effort, No Fundamentals

  1. I really dont know what my take on this team is. I dont think we are going to win a championship though. Artest cant ever get into the offense, Fisher is long overdue for retirement, Gasol is not as dominant as he was last year, Bynum has not reached his peaked yet, and Kobe seems to have gotton older. The bench is also inconsistent. Plus, the teams are better than they were last year. I am still picking this team to go to the finals to play the Cavs, but I wouldnt be surprised if they get knocked out earlier.

  2. I agree with Joe, and before people say it, this opinion isn’t the result of tonight’s loss or a sub-.500 trip.

    This team hasn’t shown us that it’s got the drive or talent to win it all this season. Lots of teases, glimpses here and there. But there are too many holes, starting with awful point guard play and Artest’s limited offensive contributions.

    Too often this season they’ve been playing with only two scoring threats on the floor – Kobe and whichever of Pau or Bynum was on the box. Now that Pau’s hitting his jumpers again, hopefully that becomes three scoring threats at a time if and when Bynum returns.

    But is that enough to beat Denver, Utah or Dallas? Maybe. Enough to beat Orlando, or LeBron and all the bogus foul calls he’ll receive? I don’t believe so. Hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if L.A. flames out in the first or second round, depending upon which team(s) they meet.

    Last year’s team had that drive to win, to overcome the loss to Boston. This year who knows what the hell is going on…

  3. sigh. I think my issues with this are that silly or not, I’ve invested a lot of time and interest in this team. And suddenly I feel like I’m rooting for the 2007 Pistons.

  4. This year is a different mentality. The lqkers dont need to prove to themsl ves or send messages. I think PJ wanted to rest his players cutting practice short which why we’ve b wen out of rhythm recently. As for matchups with good teams this season he did not give anything away for the playoffs. A lot of basic adjustment s were not made for a reason not because coaches enjoy beating their heads against the wall.

    At least this is how I’m rationalizing it..

  5. I have already resigned to the fact that, for whatever reason, the Lakers will always have lapses. I don’t get overly frustrated when the Lakers win, or joyful when they win. I’m reserving my emotional investment in the team for the playoffs. Nothing we say or do can change how the guys bring it to the court. We, as fans, can only watch and go along with the ride. Hopefully, I will experience more joy than frustration in the upcoming playoffs.

    Our bench is horrid. With LO in the starting five and Walton out, can we even name a single adequate role player?

    And this is the first time I’ve ever thought that Kobe’s age might be catching up to him. To me, he has always seem invincible, and I would never be able to fathom the fact that Kobe will never be his 18 year old self again.

  6. I think the reason the team is so dejected is because they really don’t know how to fix it this year. Before, they could flip the switch on good teams – this year they can’t.

    The players know it, the coaches know it, the fans know it….and the worse part is every team knows it. They are not afraid to meet the Lakers in the playoffs.

  7. Always a great sign when a team isn’t satisfied with being the top seed in the western conference while having the 2nd best record in the NBA. When Bynum gets back the Lakers will roll through the western conference easier than they did last year.

    I remember when a season ago when Charles Barkley and others said LA had no chance of winning a championship after being forced into a 7th game with an awful (due to injuries) Rocket team. Who in the NBA besides the Cavs and the Magic have even a 5% shot at beating a healthy Lakers squad? If you haven’t noticed the other top seeds in the West have been playing just as poorly in case you oddly think that late regular season performance has any correlation to playoff successes. I happen to think every playoff series is its own unique entity.

  8. can we officially hit the panic button?

  9. Everyone says when Andrew gets back. Kind of like when they talk about Eddy Curry.

    Andrew figured out at a young age that you get paid the same in a suit and dress shoes as you do in a Laker uniform.

    This is 3 years in a row he has gone into playoffs off injury and no doubt out of shape. I don’t expect him back until playoffs. Maybe.

    Wondering if he learned that from Shaq. He has great potential though. Ya know what I mean.

  10. Wow, a positive comment from Aaron. I am impressed.

    I distinctly remember watching the Lakers teams of 2002 and 2003 playing like this. Is it frustrating – absolutely. As a fan I never want the Lakers to lose. But sometimes losing can help a team come together – the Lakers can’t go into the playoffs overconfident, and I think they will eventually approach “favorite” status (out of the west) – because of last year, and “nobody believes in us” status – because of some bad games this year.

    On another note, what happened to LO tonight? He just wasn’t “in” the game, and I think as our best rebounder/hustle guy that can be a problem with these high energy teams. I wonder about his soldier and Ron’s hand as the playoffs near – they are undereported stories that I think have effected the Lakers more than they believe.

    On to the next game guys. Utah’s gonna bring it, and tones will change if the Lakers bring it in that one. Its April, lets go 1 day at a time everyone.

  11. Last year all our younger players, except Sasha, had their career best years. The problem with that is that they weren’t front line players. This means they were probably destined not to reach those heights again this year — that happened.

    I also think Farmar has checked out of this offense and doesn’t see his future in it — therefore he isn’t trying to learn any more about it. Enough said.

    Fisher is a year older and very little good can come from that.

    Lamar is the definition of inconsistent. That’s one good reason he shouldn’t be starting on this team.

    Kobe has a broken finger on his shooting hand. Even if his shooting improves his passing is certainly below par and his defense is about average – good footwork tho.

    Pau, Kobe, and Lamar all repeatedly try to force passes into traffic. We all know what this results in.

    Lastly this is not a really good road team – look at the record throughout this year.

    I think it is whistling past the graveyard to talk about staying ahead of Orlando – record wise. We will be lucky to get out of the Western Conference this year. Stumble once at home against either Denver or Dallas and we have a good chance of losing the series.

  12. We simply are not playing to win a championship this year. We have much to play for as Phil’s return to the team is predicated on our success this year.
    The following folks need to pack their bags, as we MUST do something next year to keep Phil, and yes help Kobe.
    Fisher-gone, Farmer-gone, Sasha-gone, Powell-gone, Morrison-gone, and yes unfortunately Walton-gone

  13. Can we just say Lakers have possibly the worst bench in the NBA? Has anyone read article on Fisher who claims he is not “spreading his wings on offense” as he would like? Damn, that man is crazy.

  14. Well atleast we have Sasha’s expiring contract to look forward to next year + The midlevel exception this offseason. That’s two quality players that can be had!! Our bench will be greatly improved!

  15. just a couple of questions that i have no answer for… maybe someone can help:

    why the hell does adam morrison get minutes and sasha doesnt?!? is phil trying to mess sasha up completely?

    do you also have the feeling that farmar only starts playing with confidence and shooting the shots that he wants when the game is out of reach? its like he tries so hard to make kobe and pau happy, that he completely forgets that he is very capable going to the rim and hitting those jumpshots that he hits when we are down 20. just imagine fishers brain and confidence in farmars body… what a nice dream.

    lamar has to step it up aswell. today, some looseballs and rebounds didnt go his way, that happens. but he really needs to take his man off the dribble and create like kobe does. its very important i think.

    btw, i miss ronny turiaf

  16. CDawg (8),
    You should read what I write more often. Because all my comments are positive except when we have to talk about our PG. I have said all year that no matter what happens in the playoffs if the Lakers stay healthy they will win another championship. Just too much talent. I didn’t predict Fisher would have an historically bad season though. That will make things a little tougher.

  17. Renato Afonso April 1, 2010 at 2:41 am

    9.

    walton-gone? Seriously, why would you want to get rid of the guy who actually understands our offense (except for Pau and Fish)? Who’s our backup SF now that he is injured?

    People need to understand that we need Walton to help the second unit… Is 6M too much? Maybe any other team wouldn’t pay as much to him, but in my opinion he is invaluable to us. Even if he only plays 8-12 minutes a game, that’s a contribution we need. And I think everyone can agree that we are a different beast when our rotation consists of: Fish, Kobe, Ron, Pau, Bynum, LO, Walton, Farmar and Sasha.

    People have really short memories and keep forgetting the results this team gets when they are healthy. Are we flawed? Yes, we certainly are! But the other teams are also flawed and we DO have a chance at the title if everyone comes back healthy.

    Regarding our current form, maybe the lack of practice is hurting the team… I simply don’t know what Phil is thinking but those 10 rings make me NOT question him for now…

  18. by the way… i almost never say anything bad about mamba, but the defense he played tonight was really, really bad. same goes for artest, who didnt even manage to get the usual deflections that he is famous for

  19. I imagine that the team is taking it easy to prepare for the Playoffs, I agree with Aaron that we will steamroll our way to the Finals this year, better than last. We will need Bynum and Walton though to make that happen easily and smoothly, all will be fine.

  20. Chill out people, what a bunch of drama queens. Lakers will repeat.

  21. Couple or losses here or there do not neccesairly mean terrible things, especially with current situation in the standings. HOWEVER, you really want to play well and get a nice rythym going into the playoffs because you CAN’T switch it on and off…last year the lakers played up to the level of opposition and it was preety consistent throughout the year. This season..man..how many good games have we played this year, seriously?
    Someone mentioned the Pistons of 07 and I think almost all the Pistones team from 05 to 08 are a good example. They were “bored” and “just waiting for the playoffs” and when a real good team faced them, they just couldn’t get it going. It’s a warning sign for the Lakers

  22. Let’s just get to the playoffs and see what happens from there. I’m done worrying and anylizing until then.

  23. >Pachulia had a double-double off of the bench..

    his first double-double in more than a year!

    and this notable quote after the game:
    “You can’t win the championship with five guys,” Pachulia said. “We have some great players on the bench. Why not use them?”

    I’m just sayin’..

  24. Im not going to lie, if we’re not going to beat Cleveland I’d rather not make the finals. Watching Lebron celebrate his first title and Shaq his 5th while Kobe walks off the court pissed will be the worst visual ever.

  25. Here’s a pretty interesting take from ESPNLA, basically claiming that our problems stem from the bench giving up leads and the starters having to come in and play from behind.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/columns/story?id=5046191

  26. Would it kill them to flip the switch now, instead of waiting until the first game of the playoffs?

    A major part of the problem is that they have never really gotten in rhythm with their offense all season. So when the defense is little off, and the three point shots aren’t falling, they don’t have the offensive rhythm to carry them through. Part of that is tendency of the guards (including Kobe) to think shot first, then offense, part is the injuries, part is figuring how out how best to work Artest and Bynum in, part is the fact that none of the bench players (not counting Odom in that) are having a decent year. Possibly part of it is Jackson’s coaching methodology – hard to say if another coach would have done better under these circumstances.

  27. I am surprised that PJ hasn’t gotten himself thrown out of a game yet this season. Why is he sitting courtside watching this team put out this rubbish basketball? Somebody needs to stir the pot. We gotta start a storm. Something, anything that will wake up this team and get them to get behind each other. I have no clue what that will take. But that seems to be the only way for this team to wake up and play as a team.

  28. Has anyone considered that the coaching change could be the difference in this years team?

    Rambis was the defensive coach last year and also the ear to many of the players like Sasha and Jordan. Now this year we have personal problems and defensive breakdowns..

    Phil has never been a good communicator with the players as he tends to call them out in the press instead of face to face.

    I think we miss Kurt more then we know.

  29. speaking of Sasha, sounds like he’s got a real issue going on with the coaches, look at this tidbit from the Times today –

    “All season I haven’t been getting much playing time,” Vujacic said. “It’s OK. Coach has his rotation. At least now I know what my role is. He said the reason we had the talk, he told me what my role is and now I understand what my role is. I was trying to find out all season long. But now I know.”

    What is that role?

    “Well, I’m out of the rotation,” Vujacic said. “If they are winning, I’m not playing. If they are losing and the team is down by 20 points, then I get few minutes.”

    The Lakers lost to the Hawks by 17 points Wednesday. Vujacic didn’t play, for the third consecutive game.

  30. I think the Lakers know there playoff seed so they have checked out of the regular season, frankly I can’t blame them since I haven’t watched the lakers last 5 games.

    The playoffs can’t come soon enough.

  31. 28) ken,
    Also, Tex Winter hasn’t been with the team at all this year, last year he was for most of the season.

  32. the article by markazi was interesting. A lot of it has been pointed out here. But it doesn’t really get at why they are playing bad. To me, a certain amount of it is ego – especially at the pg position, which has been killing us and forcing pj to use fisher more than he would like. Sasha and Farmar are babies. Bynum falls into that category too, but in a less drastic and damaging way. When his offense falters, he zones out on defense. But the guy is young, so he needs some slack (at least for me). Pau is a little guilty of this as well when he whines on the court about fouls. Maybe there’s more to his injuries we know. And the rest I put on kobe and the coaching staff. This crap has been simmering all year and they should have gotten a little more involved to stamp it out, or make a trade.

  33. #31. I agree with missing Tex. He’s the architect of our offense and a brutally honest coach that doesn’t hold his tongue. He surely would have been pointing out the flaws in the Lakers offensive execution throughout this season and been working with the players and other coaches trying to get things resolved.

  34. It seems like all our star players rarely all “show up” on the same night – any given night at least two of Pau, Lamar, Artest or Bynum seem to be playing in a daze. Kobe has been erratic because of his injuries. The role players tend to follow the lead of the stars, when they play well, the role players play better.

  35. Time to start planning for next season, and hopefully with a new coach. When the consensus opinion is that a veteran team does not play with fundamentals or with passion, it is clear that the coach is not getting through. $12 million for a guy who cannot get this kind of talent to play hard and play fundamentally sound basketball is something Jerry Buss is not likely to do again.

    For all the criticism Artest gets, to me he seems like the least of the Lakers’ concerns. Fisher is beyond awful, and cannot even outplay opposing reserve guards. Kobe is having a terrible year. Where is the leadership? His defense is a joke, which is inexcusable when you have a point guard who can’t guard anyone, making this team’s backcourt the worst of any playoff team on the defensive side. Pau seems to going out of his way to prove the “soft” label was right, LO is exactly the same player he has always been–hyperinconsistent and undependable, and the bench is probably worse than the benches of the Final Four teams in the NCAA. Farmar doesn’t fit and Shannon Brown (who I loved last year) took a huge step back and has become a shoot first (and early, and poorly) guard.

    With the talent that this team has (on paper) it is simply inexcusable that they play this way. Sure, they might “turn it on” come playoff time, but many people forget how close this team was to getting knocked out last year. A joke of a Houston team took them to 7 games, and they are unlikely to play any team as undermanned as Houston this year. Denver was a far bigger challenge than many recall, and also unlike last year, EVERYBODY thinks they can beat the Lakers now. Maybe they’ll win it all again, but I am pretty doubtful and I expect to see some major changes this summer, starting (but not ending) with the coach….

  36. The chemistry from the Laker bench is pretty much gone when Ronny. I kind of wish we gave that 5 years extention to Ronny instead of Sasha. Then again we all thought Sasha would be a good role player and improve instead of becoming a useless doll.

  37. And comment #36 wins the contest for overreaction of the day.

    A new coach? Kobe is terrible? Artest is the least of our concerns? I’m not sure which team you’re watching, but it isn’t the Lakers. I’ve got my criticisms of this team, but they don’t start with the coach or Kobe, that’s for sure.

  38. With seven games left, do the Lakers have any shot at all of getting to 60 wins? Yikes. That was Phil’s goal (and the team’s, too…I thought).

    Also, does the fact that a 45-9 freethrow disparity in CLE’s favor only leading to a three point win over MIL last night mean anything?

  39. Jeez, people. Let’s all calm down. Our team is not playing well, but guess what? It happens. Every team has stretches where it doesn’t play well. Our team being in LA, we like for things to get to the boiling point before change occurs. Phil is perfectly content with letting the players stew in this and then he’ll get people’s heads right when it counts. I’m not saying there aren’t concerns, but it would not surprise me in the least to see us win the west and contend for another title. Remember that we’ve been in playoff mode for the entire season as the defending champs. When the real playoffs begin, our veteran team will rise to the occasion. Yes we could play better, but back away from the ledge. And let’s get our team fully healthy.

  40. This season has been textbook “Disease of More” for the bench, if you think about it.

    1) Farmar is gunning for a contract and doing everything to showcase his scoring ability (with is funny, considering he’s a point guard).

    2) Shannon, our beloved Shannon, is no longer the hustling, taking shots within the offense guy he was during the playoff run last year. He’s in full showcase mode, even though we don’t want to admit it. He’s not playing defense as hard as he did last year, either.

    3) Josh Powell, the same Josh Powell who was able to effectively start against Houston last year, now fancies himself a long range bomber. He’s gone from Ronny Turiaff to Brian Cook.

    4) Mbenga has always been a “I’m shooting it, no matter what!” guy, but now he no longer makes the hustle plays that he used to make last year.

    5) Morrison and Sasha are just as bad as they were last year.

    6) Luke Walton has barely played this year, so he hasn’t been a factor.

    Look at the starters:

    1) Kobe is breaking down, physically, so he’s not as good as he was last year.

    2) Pau has played too many games over the past three years, and looks tired.

    3) Lamar Odom (inconsistent) and Andrew Bynum (inconsistent and injury prone) are the only players who haven’t changed.

    4) Fish, if possible, is worse than last year…only he’s the only who doesn’t know it.

    The truth of the matter is, Mitch miscalculated the same way he miscalculated when he first took the reigns as GM, in thinking status quo was all he needed to do.

    Remember when he first took over and his big move was resigning Devean George?

    YOU NEED hungry players, especially coming off the bench.

    It’s sad but true. I was all for signing Artest and resigning LO and Shannon, but he really, REALLY needed to find a replacement for Farmar.

    I know he tried, but he didn’t try hard enough.

    The Lakers needed either a savvy vet to come off the bench, or young, hungry player.

    Farmar was already dissastisfied…what did Mitch think he would be like in a contract year??

    (edited for trade speculation)

  41. Burgundy good piece.

    (edited for trade speculation)

    Mitch has been vastly overated.

    Pau came from West and Bynam was forced by Jimmy Buss.

    What Mitch gave us was resigning:
    Walton for 5 million
    Sasha for 5 million
    Fisher for 5 million
    Odom for 9 million

    And no changes other then Artest.

    Hope it works out.

  42. Kupchak also brought in Ariza, and Brown. Both of whom helped win the title last year. And brought back Fisher, who was a significant factor in the two trips to the Finals.
    And remember that last season, they couldn’t sign free agents other than with the MLE.
    You think that he didn’t try to trade some of those pieces in the offseason?

  43. We’re not going to get into what Mitch should or could have done. No one knows what those things were except for the upper crusts of this organization and no one knows what those conversations were like with Dr. Buss or with rival GM’s.

    I understand that there is a frustration level with the performance of certain players from our current group. That said, you don’t know what offers were on the table or what other teams were willing to take, nor what payroll limitations Dr. Buss has. No one knows. So it’s not as easy to say “we should have gotten player X”. So we’re not going to start now.

  44. Your right Darius I was responding to prior post. It is was it is and we are still in a fine position.

  45. Darius, we’ll see. My comment is not based on one game or one road trip. It is based on an entire season of underachievement. With what he has to work with, I’m not sure how you can consider Phil Jackson’s performance this season to be worth $12 million. Aren’t coaches supposed to make players better? Is there a player on this team who isn’t worse than last year? How is team morale? How is the communication (on the floor and off it)? For a game or a week or a month, these things are tolerable, but for a season? At varying points throughout this season you have seen Andrew, Sasha, Jordan, and Pau question what the coach wants from them, and as a team they appear unprepared at least as often (if not more) than they are ready to play. Maybe this flows from Phil’s “I let my players figure it out for themselves” approach. I’ve got no problem with that approach, when it works. Is it working this year?

    As for Kobe, do you think he is having a good year? He’s incredibly inconsistent defensively, and on offense there is no rhythm. Which player has he made better this year? Last year he was like Jordan. This year he is like Dominique Wilkins. Kobe and Fish still dominate the ball, and nearly the entire season has gone by without a concerted effort to exploit the team’s primary advantage: its height in the low post. That’s on the guards (and coaches).

    When any organization underperforms so consistently for so long, I think it is inherently reasonable to look to the leadership. For the Lakers, that would be the coach and the best player.

    Not sure what your concerns are, or how they can not be traced to coaching.

  46. Ken you seem to have glossed over a lot of deals.

    Jerry West had retired from the Grizzlies and turned the reins over to Chris Wallace before the Pau trade.

    Mitch pulled of the Pau deal, got the Lakers what they could for Shaq, drafted Marc Gasol, and traded for Ariza. The contracts he has signed have not been that great. I think that the good definitely outweigh the bad in this case.

    Fisher everyone will harp on, but that mood that summer after Kobe gave his demands was so full of fear that Mitch did the one thing that would help appease Kobe. Fisher changed things in the locker room. Kobe needed someone to trust. Someone who understood what it takes to get back to the top.

    Funky Chicken

    Kobe has been inconsistent on defense because of the fact that his hand has completely ravaged. If you watched him at the beginning of the year, he was playing All-World defense. As he got banged up, his defense slowly fell off.

    For the majority of the year I have been pretty optimistic about the Lakers. I have been confident that they will get to the Finals again and repeat. My faith has slowly begun to deteriorate on this road trip. The doubt is slowly creeping into my mind. The weakness of the bench without Lamar is frightening. The guards sans Kobe haven’t played well to put it mildly. There are definite chinks in the armor. However, there have been moments that still assure me that the Lakers will repeat (See Spurs game).

    We as Laker fans tend to take things for granted. I mean we are fans of a franchise that has missed the playoffs only 5 times in its entire history. We have become so accustomed to greatness that we have now moved onto expecting this team to be perfect every game of the season. This is completely unrealistic.

    I am just hoping for a good April. Take it one game at a time.

  47. 47 sorry you are wrong. Can’t tell you how I know but Jerry West called Jerry Buss and let him know a deal was for the taking for Pau. Mitch knew nothing about it until he got the call from Buss to look into it.
    West was still being paid by the Griz at the time even though he had retired.

    Sorry but that is a fact and one I would put money on.

    Feel free to chime in Darius as I am sure you also know how the Pau thing went down.

  48. This thought occurred to me this morning: What if the Lakers do lazily repeat this year.

    Next year, they’ll know that they REALLY don’t have to care about anything. The apathy level will be off the charts. They might not even report to training camp until mid-november, just going ahead and forfeiting the first 15 games or so because they know they can probably make it up later…

    I’d say this would be record setting level of apathy except I remember how 2003 started.

  49. Bynumite, I’m not certain that Kobe’s defensive inconsistency is entirely hand-related, but you might be right. My comments are really intended as comments rather than criticisms. It might be that Kobe’s issues are injury-related, and next year (or whenever he’s healthy) he’ll be better. I’m merely saying that right now, and for most of this season, he hasn’t been the same kind of player that led the team to a title last year.

    You are completely right in that Laker fans have become spoiled. However, after Shaq was traded, I didn’t expect this team to be good, and they weren’t. When they picked up Pau, I thought it would be a very nice addition, but didn’t think it put them over the top, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result. I don’t come at this from the perspective of a spoiled fan who expects perfection all the time. Rather, I look at the facts. This team has the best roster in the league in terms of talent. I was among those during the summer saying that 70 wins was not out of the question, and that the reason it would likely not happen was injury issues and attitude–not talent.

    What I see is a starting lineup that is better than any other in the league, and yet what I also see is a group of players who don’t play like champions. If they played hard every night (hardly an unreasonable expectation, and far from “perfection”) they would easily have the best record in the league. There would be a few stinkers along the way, as there are for every team; but they would be in a position to win every game just on sheer talent. Unfortunately, of all of the contending teams, I think the Lakers play with the least amount of effort on a consistent basis. No doubt that they can “turn it on” and use their immense talent to pull out a win here and there, but this is a dangerous recipe.

    That’s really the gist of it for me: play hard every night. Do they do that? Clearly no. Do they come close? Nope. There are far too many games where the effort isn’t there all game long, and I can think of hardly any games this year where the team put together 4 quarters of solid effort. Maybe 2, and rarely 3, but almost never 4. That’s a shame, because they are making it far too hard on themselves. Consistent effort would have put them in position to lock up home court throughout the playoffs and allowed them to rest up some of the guys with injuries before the playoffs. I don’t think that was asking too much.

  50. If we win back-to-back Championship titles, Phil Jackson is worth $12m a year. The loss of the two assistant coaches has been a negative factor this year. Why all of the doom and gloom, I just want the Playoffs to start as soon as possible and we will see what happens and enjoy the games to be played, why don’t we?

  51. Funky Chicken,
    The problem is in thinking that this roster would do better with someone other than Jackson. I don’t see how you can make that claim, considering all the injuries. Presumably, if the Vujacics, Waltons, Farmars, Powells, Mbengas, and Browns were actually not playing up to their potential because of Jackson, there would be plenty of teams willing to trade for them. That doesn’t seem to be the case. The more likely explanation is that Jackson is getting as much as can be reasonably expected out of the players, considering the injuries. No one on the bench is playing at a level that screams “Start me!!” None of them, including Farmar.

  52. Funky Chicken April 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    ex, I agree that we can’t know if a different coach could get more out of these guys. I’m just saying that at $12 million per, it isn’t unreasonable for the owner to give someone else a shot. Of the guys you listed, only Luke has had an injury, and all the others appear to have regressed from what they’ve shown in the past. To me, that suggests that perhaps with a different approach, these guys can do better (since most HAVE done better) and it might be time for Phil to move on, as he himself seems to acknowledge from time to time. That said, your list is a motley crew, and there isn’t a legitimate starter to be found among them….

  53. This is not the time to turn on the Lakers team and coaches. This is the time to show support. I like this team as it is right now. I like every player on this team–including Derek Fisher, Luke Walton, and anyone else you’d attack. That doesn’t mean I agreed with every management decision on every player.

    I would have kept Turiaff–nio matter what. I would have let Sasha go, and signed Mo Evans as a free agent instead. I would either have traded Lamar Odom or let him walk. I would have tried harder to sign Trevor. I would have tried harder to get Kurt Hinrich this mid season. I’m thrilled with everything else.

    Point is, no one agrees with every Laker decision every time. I now think that I was wrong about Lamar–but I’m still not 100% convinced. I think that we were very lucky to get Ron Artest–and it may well still pay off this season.

    As Laker fans, we need to keep in mind how much we don’t know about what is going, and appreciate the great team we have right now. They’ve all been chosen for a reason; they’ve been together in the best of times. Let’s support them even if they lose–and thank them for all that they’ve done for us for almost three years.

    Accept the journey–and see where it leads. If it leads to an NBA championship, be happy and grateful. If the Lakers don’t get through the first round of the playoffs–accept it. It happens.

  54. The Achilles Heel for the Lakers (other the Andrew Bynum’s “strain”) is at at point. No disrespect to Derek Fisher, J. Farmars or Shannon Brown but for various reasons be it age, lack of size, etc., they can’t stop any point guard worth his salt from penetrating at will scoring, dishing off, creating havoc and more often than not, dominating games. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t haunt them, one way or another, in the playoffs especially with the abundance of excellent point guards in the west.