Lakers/Bucks: Lakers Caught In Trap Game

Phillip Barnett —  December 21, 2010
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

The Lakers came into tonight’s game winners of five straight road games, playing relatively well, but not great. Milwaukee came into tonight’s game missing three key players (Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden) and were coming off of a bad loss to Portland. With the Miami game looming, the only thing the Lakers didn’t want to do was to lay an egg to a short handed, lesser opponent. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they did, laying a huge egg back at Staples in a 98-79 awful loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Lakers showed some signs of offensive execution early, especially with Lamar Odom getting whatever he wanted against Ersan Ilyasova in the first six minutes of the first quarter. However, the Lakers showed glimpses of some of their worst collective defensive execution. Keyon Dooling was able to get into the paint and create for others; Ilyasova hit a couple mid-range jumpers and got some easy buckets around the rim; and Andrew Bogut gave Pau Gasol all that he could handle. With Milwaukee able to score at a much higher rate than what they normally do, they were able to set their defense, one of the best defenses in the league, which gave the Lakers problems. Milwaukee challenged shots around the rim (five missed Lakers layups in the last three minutes of the first quarter) and turned the Lakers over — and scoring off of every Lakers first half turnover.

In the second quarter, the Lakers’ second unit got going, moved the ball well and took a lead after a Shannon Brown three, Matt Barnes hit a couple shots and a short Andrew Bynum jump hook. However, they were only able to extend that lead to three points before the starting unit was brought back in, and much of the same for the first quarter ensued. Bogut and Ilyasova continued to get easy looks while the Lakers continued to miss easy ones around the rim and turn the ball over. Although nothing screamed 19-point blow out in the first half, there weren’t any signs suggesting that the Lakers were going to figure out how to over come their four-point halftime deficit.

In the second half, things got worse. The offense stalled for several possessions at a time. Instead of moving the ball like they did for the first few minutes of the game and pounding the ball inside, they moved to a more individualistic approach, going into isolations and standing around the perimeter watching. Ball movement was non-existent as the Lakers went on a 9:41 stretch without an assisted basket. As the lead continued to grow, the Lakers shot selection got worse. The Lakers ended up shooting two-for-13 from behind the arch, helping to add to the percentage of Lakers possessions that ended with an isolation or a spot-up jumper — nearly 30 percent.

Milwaukee shot eight-for-14 from behind the arch, with little man Earl Boykins shooting four-for-five from long range with 22 points. At the end of the day, the Lakers flat out didn’t play well. Milwaukee executed a great game plan and the Lakers did the opposite. Frustrations eventually mounted to a Kobe Bryant ejection with about two minutes left to play.

I don’t think we need to remind you guys, but the Lakers play next on Christmas against the Miami Heat at 2:30 PST on ABC. We’ll have more on this matchup as the game approaches.

Phillip Barnett

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33 responses to Lakers/Bucks: Lakers Caught In Trap Game

  1. This is brought over from the last thread:

    I missed this game so I’m going to speak in generalities rather than specifics to this game. So, stick with me for a brief moment.

    If you think a single game (or even a string of games) in December speak to the overall quality of a team, I’d have to strongly disagree with that perspective. Seasons are long and hard and to put too much stock into a game like this is too simple a path in the complex and windy road of a full NBA campaign. Said another way, saying that this game is indicative of what this team will accomplish is just as bad and narrow a view as claiming that this team is *definitely* going to win the championship because of a blowout win over a really good, contending team.

    What a game like this proves is how *bad* the Lakers can be on a night; just as a great performance will show how *good* they can be on another night. Games like this one are frustrating ONLY because we know what this team is actually capable of when playing its best. So why then turn around and imply that this game is more representative of what this team is about than a good win? Do fans actually think that this team isn’t good enough to win a championship because it lost tonight? If so, I’m not sure if following basketball is really for you – especially following this Lakers team.

    Games like this happen. That’s a simple explanation and will likely get shot down in the heat of frustration. I get it. But if you’re looking for me to jump off the ledge with you, you’re reading the wrong guy and have come to the wrong site. Venting is fine because, again, I get it. But when doing it, try not to take that next step of thinking that because you saw little effort tonight that the effort won’t ever be there or can’t be summoned on another. That’s a tricky step and not a stable one to put your foot on.

    Last note, there are no guarantees that this team will accomplish what we all want, just like there aren’t any guarantees that they won’t. The point is to go through the season and follow them and join them on the journey to see what happens. If you’re positive of either one or the other it’s a shame because the fact is that no one knows. As we’ve said a hundred times before, enjoy the journey. Games like this make you appreciate the successes that come later.

  2. Just got back from STAPLES, and losing to the Bucks is definitely frustrating. Tonight was easily the worst game I’ve seen the Lakers play all year. But worse than the fact that the Lakers lost is the way the Lakers lost. Credit the Bucks here because they clearly outhustled the Lakers for loose balls and on the boards. No effort, no energy, and aside from Kobe’s 2-T outburst at the end of the 4th, it was hard to tell if the team cared. The 50% shooting for the Bucks is way too high, and it seemed like the Bucks had far more uncontested shots than what should be expected. While this was only one game, as Lakers fan we all know that titles are won in June, but the journey to that point begins now. By no means am I an expert, but there were a few things I noticed tonight that stood out to me that will help determine whether or not we three-peat.
    1. Pau Gasol’s ability to play against physical bigs. While Game 7 of last year’s Finals dispelled the myth that Pau is soft, Pau definitely struggled with Bogut’s size and physicality. I noticed that Phil substituted Bynum in for Pau twice tonight because Pau could not handle Bogut on both ends, and Bynum did a much better job with Bogut.
    2. Artest’s role on offense. When he isn’t posting up, Ron looks very lost on the offensive end. You can sense his indecision when he catches the ball at the 3 point line. That being said, there was a play in the 2nd quarter where Kobe drove in the lane, got doubled, and kicked it out to Ron. While Ron missed the shot, this play tells me that Kobe understands that he is going to need Ron in the playoffs. Continuing to pass the ball to a wide open Ron and encouraging him to shoot shows trust in Ron, and if losing a few regular season games now allows Ron to find his shot again in time for the playoffs, I can live with it. After all, in Game 7 of the Finals last season, it was Ron who stepped up when everyone else was struggling. We need that Artest again this spring.
    3. Shot selection and turnovers. It seems that the Lakers get in trouble when they get sloppy with the ball, which lets the other team score easily in transition. Maybe it’s the regular season, but I don’t remember the Lakers turning it over this often in the last 2 playoffs.
    I don’t think its time to panic. If Phil isn’t panicking, I don’t know why I should. As fans, we’ve experienced the journey to the Finals for the last few years, and each of those journeys has had its share of bumps in the road. With proven winners and leaders in Phil, Kobe, and Fisher, there is no reason to believe that this team won’t figure it out in time for the playoffs.

  3. I am not panicking by any means, but the easiest part of the schedule is over, and:

    SA 24-3
    BOS 22-4
    DAL 23-5
    LAKERS 21-8

    MIA, OKC, and Utah are close behind.

    As to the team, they need to get more out of Blake, and he needs to score more. Ditto Artest as noted in #2. Blake and Fisher were outscored 30-2 by Dooling and Boykins tonight. I was OK with signing Blake, but I thought four years was too long, and I really think so now.

  4. Darius,

    I for one am not completely judging them over one bad loss. But we are 30 games into the season and this team is not even one of the top 3 teams and we have had the easiest schedule so far. I think at this point there should be some reason for concern. I am not saying they can’t improve and won’t win a championship. But I think something needs to be done, perhaps a change in the lineup, or at least a serious team meeting. I think it goes beyond just a simple lack of focus from the team, don’t ya think?

  5. Yes, it IS just a game in December. No, this loss does not indicate the overall quality of the team.

    However, with that said, it does say a lot about the team’s mentality. But, it is what it is. How many times have we been frustrated with the Lakers’ inability to deal a swift victory against lesser teams? Then again, how many times did the Lakers still get to the Finals (3) and win the championship (2)?

    While I’m sure we all (the team included) wished the playoffs would begin right now, so that some serious basketball can be played, HCA is very important. That is something the Lakers should be fighting for, to keep themselves engaged and – dare I say it? – interested, through this tortuously long 82-game season.

  6. From SSR:

    When spring rolls around and the Lakers are opening a playoff series in Dallas or San Antonio or Boston, we’ll look back on nights like this and rue.

    ____

  7. HCA is important. But I think playing your best ball when it’s most needed is more important. Essentially, I believe if the Lakers are playing as well as they can they can win regardless of location.

    Also, yes we’re 29 games into the season but this is the 5th(?) game that Bynum’s played in. So while I understand that the Lakers are not where many would want them to be record wise (especially considering the competition and what other teams are doing), I’m not really inclined to look at the team’s record and make it seem like the team we see today is the one that’s played the entire year.

    That doesn’t excuse poor play or the inconsistencies, but I think it helps explain why the season’s gone the way it has so far. If people want to disregard that, I think they’re ignoring a point that really shouldn’t be thrown to the side.

  8. #6. Maybe they will, but I won’t. Not to get all defiant here, but if folks really believe that the Lakers can’t win without HCA then will you still watch if they don’t get it? Is it then a foregone conclusion that they won’t win? I feel like fans forget so easily that the point is to peak and play your best game when it’s needed – road, home, wherever. And if you’re able to do that, you have to like your chances. Has this Lakers team – one whose core is the same that’s won the past 2 championships – done something in the 6 months since clinching the title that tells us that they can’t win a road playoff game? That they can’t play well when the stakes are high? I just don’t get the sudden doubt about this team’s ability to play. Is it 2008 that’s still on people’s minds?

  9. I also just got back from STAPLES, and Vince @2 above pretty much summed it all up. The Triangle Offense requires off-the-ball-movement, right? That did not really seem to be happening tonight, just bad shot selection by the Lakers and the Bucks controlled the paint. Bynum looked good when he was on the floor playing, BTW. Every shot that went up for them just seemed to go in, and it was the opposite for the Lakers. I may never see another Kobe game ejection again in my life, and I hope not, but it showed his frustration with the officials. Anyway, on to the Miami Heat, and I hope we take them down hard.

    Does anyone know how many games Kobe has been ejected from in his career?

  10. Not to get all defiant here, but if folks really believe that the Lakers can’t win without HCA then will you still watch if they don’t get it?

    Of course. And yes, they can win without HCA. The last two years, they have closed out Utah, Denver, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, and Orlando on the road.

    But those are not the series, or the opponents, people are thinking about when they think about HCA.

    The bottom line is that the Lakers have had the easiest schedule in the league–not one of the easiest, the easiest–and are already a few games back in the loss column to teams that have played tougher schedules. Even though they have been without Bynum, I think it is reasonable to be disapointed that the team is 21-8 instead of 24-5 or even 25-4. Bynum’s being out was not exactly a shocker.

    That is an issue, and losing at home by 19 to Milwaukee, playing without Jennings on a b-to-b has made the problem worse.

    Finally, Dallas (Chandler), San Antonio (Neal/Spiltter) and Boston (Shaq) are all BETTER than they were last year, as of now anyway. And there is of course Miami. The Lakers need to be better as well. Sometimes it seems that they are; other times, not so much.

  11. Hi,
    I’ve followed the Lakers forever since I’ve lived in California for most of my life (40 yrs) except for the part where I grew up in Massachusetts and became a dyed in the wool Boston sports fan. 1. I believe the Lakers will get it together and that there will be nights that are good and bad. However, I disagree with Darius’ position where he tends to stake out too much of a relativistic, who knows what tomorrow will bring claim. Of course no one knows. As a fan, I think it’s absolutely right to express criticism about what one has witnessed in the here and now. 30 games is enough to get a sense of what is going on; as a manager (in business) or coach, I’d be figuring out a way to improve the results rather than assume that champion pedigree will necessarily result in champion results. Boston is hungry as ever; they feel the burden of time, the misfortune of Kevin Garnett’s knee injury in 2009 and Perkins’ in 2010. Dallas is bitter over losing to Miami in 2006 and hungry for their first banner, as is Jerry Sloan and the Jazz. The Spurs are reinventing themselves with the same old war horses. The line of contenders is long.

    Desperation can make up for inefficiency. The Lakers have had their lineup the whole year except Bynum. Bynum is critical in their defensive scheme, in o-rebounding and in getting 10-15 easy points. But he’s not more critical to the Lakers than Boozer is to Chicago (or Noah); or Okur to Utah or Ming to Houston. Boston is missing 5 of its top 10 players…par for the course for the O’Neals but Perkins is key to their defensive rotation and West is key to their PG on the second unit. And Rondo of course is Rondo.

    As a fan, I think we marvel at talent and exemplary performance – that’s why we pay the high prices – but we grouse most about lack of effort or energy. After all, that’s the one thing a person can control and when we see uninspired play, we get annoyed. Believe me, some of the posts on the Celtics forums veer hard toward rants even when the Celtics pull out a close win (e.g. vs the Knicks) over a team that is looked down upon.

  12. I just don’t get the sudden doubt about this team’s ability to play. Is it 2008 that’s still on people’s minds?

    In terms of HCA: Game 7, 2010.

    And a potentially far tougher slate of playoff opponents than OKC, Utah, PHX and the 2010 Celtics.

  13. William,
    I don’t think it’s wrong to criticize either. I think it’s wrong to criticize and then conclude that todays criticims will be turn into tomorrows failures. I understand where it comes from, but I don’t agree.

    I also agree that resting on past success is a recipe for failure. Any coach, teacher,

  14. the misfortune of Kevin Garnett’s knee injury in 2009 and Perkins’ in 2010.

    __

    Ahhh, yes. Celtics’ fans. Cornbread Maxwell, Lenny Bias, Kevin McHale…
    and so it goes.

  15. William,
    I don’t think it’s wrong to criticize either. I think it’s wrong to criticize and then conclude that todays criticims will be turn into tomorrows failures. I understand where it comes from, but I don’t agree.

    I also agree that resting on past success is a recipe for failure. Any coach, teacher, or manager will find teaching moments to improve performance. I think Phil and the staff will find those moments in all games (even wins) to try and get this team to the destination it seeks.

    My point in all of this is that I do believe the Lakers will be ready to compete and play well over the long haul and into the post season. What I don’t know is if it will be good enough and what I’m also saying is no one else does either. I’m optimistic though. Others look at tonight’s game or the team’s current record or the strength and quality of other teams and then take a more negative long term view. I’m just not there.

  16. Question for Darius or others: How can the team get a few more points/looks/O from Blake and Artest?

    I hear what people are saying about the D, but I think that is partly a function of team age/quickness. Even with the team #1 in ORTG, they need a little more from Blake and Artest, IMO.

  17. #16. For Blake, I think it comes down to his individual aggressiveness. There are shot available that he’s turning down in favor of moving the ball on to a teammate. It’s not a bad play or wrong, but he could easily shoot more if he tweaked his approach.

    As for Ron, I think it comes down to him just making the shots that he’s already taking. And that comes down to confidence and not hesitating when he’s open and receives a pass. Sure, the Lakers can run a few more sets for him so that he can get the ball in positions to be more effective (at the shallow wing or in the post against smaller dfenders, for example). But if he’s not going to have the confidence in his offense to be aggressive and stop thinking about missing or making mistakes we may not see the positive results even when making the extra effort to get him those better chances.

  18. General thoughts from tonght–> It’s A Trap!! sorry… :) I agree with Darius in that I tend to view L.A., Boston, SA and teams of that caliber along the lines that a handful of crappy performances isn’t going to sink your season, even if you should blow out “inferior” teams on paper. Boston is banged up right now, the Lakers aren’t the most healthy or rested either. SA and Dallas are looking scary though. If Boston can tank the second half of last season and come within 6 minutes of upsetting you in Game 7 then it isn’t inconceivable that the Lakers can’t get hot and run the table again this spring provided your team continues gels and gets their bodies right. This is stating the obvious but any team that plays roughly 300 games in 3 consecutive seasons is going to have some extra wear and tear. This is all coming from a non-Lakers fan.

  19. Contrary to what seems to be public sentiment, I think the higher quality opponents in the upcoming schedule will be good for the Lakers. It may not reflect right away in the record, but I think the Lakers will become a better team as a result. The Celtics and Spurs of this league will demand that the Lakers play with effort, execution, and heart, unless our players want to get run off the court. Rekindling and maintaining these qualities going into the playoffs will mean more for the Lakers than home court advantage alone. Case in point should be the 2009-2010 Cleveland Cavaliers. I currently live in Cleveland and I witnessed firsthand how one team (Boston) could break another team’s will (Cleveland). Home court advantage meant nothing in Games 5 and 6 when the Cavs decided to quit. It pains me still to say it, but that series reminded me of the 2007-2008 Finals. The difference is that in 2008-2009, the Lakers rebounded used that humiliation as motivation to grow as a team (whereas LeBron decided he had enough and took his talents to South Beach). The most telling moment of the 2008-2009 season came in mid February in Boston when after drawing an offensive foul on KG, Lamar turned around and smacked KG in the rear, causing a minor confrontation that the refs had to break up. By Lamar standing up to the bully and letting him know that he wasn’t going to be pushed around anymore showed me that the 2008-2009 Lakers had the physical and mental toughness to stand up to anyone and were ready to win a championship. That same toughness was on full display in the 2009-2010 Finals (made that much sweeter by the pain of 2007-2008). These kind of season defining moments don’t come against the dregs of the NBA. You don’t really know what your team has until you face adversity. A two-time defending champion, with its core intact, is a proven winner that has triumphed in the face of adversity. It may just take a few games against quality opponents to remind us of that again.

  20. Poor sportsmanship from Kobe, really disappointing to see that.

  21. With regards to HCA I have to disagree with Darius… it is VERY important.

    Certainly the Lakers can win on the road against the weaker playoff teams and have proven so (OKC, Phoenix, and Utah last year for example). But you don’t win a title by beating only those teams… you have to beat the truly great teams to win the title (Boston for example).

    You say that HCA is no big deal but here are the Lakers playoff records each of the last three years by home and away splits:

    2008: Home 10-1, Away 4-6
    2009: Home 10-2, Away 6-5
    2010: Home 11-1, Away 5-6
    Total: Home 31-4, Away 15-17

    If that doesn’t help show the need for HCA then maybe this will:

    2008-10 Playoff Series results with or without HCA:
    With HCA: 11-0
    Without HCA: 0-1

    Just think back to last year… do the Lakers win that game 7 if it is on the road? I honestly would have to say no. The Lakers barely pulled out a win and recieved quite a bit of whistles in our favor in the 4th. If even a couple of those calls don’t go our way we likely lose that game.

    Home court advantage is extremely important and the Lakers can’t keep banking on the best teams in the East being eliminated before the Finals so that the Lakers end up facing a team with a worse record (which has happened the last 2 years).

  22. #21. I’m not sure where I said that HCA is “no big deal”. But what I do think, again, is that HCA is important – just not as important as the Lakers’ ability to play their best basketball in the playoffs; that if they’re playing their best they can win any game at any arena.

    To win a playoff series without HCA, you need to only win one road game if you hold serve at home. So, not to totally dismiss your stats (I think there’s some value in those numbers) but the Lakers’ record over the past three years is so much based off their circumstances in the series that they were in rather than their ability to actually win on the road. What I mean is that in all those series except the Boston series in 2008, the Lakers had HCA and were playing from a position of strength the entire series; in every series they had the luxury of leaning on home court and that means they could afford to lose some road games. Also, the road teams in those series consistently found themselves behind in those series and almost always had their backs against the wall with a real need to win their home games. That shaped the context of those games so much and made it so those games were treated like life or death by those teams.

    So, the value I take from those stats is that the Lakers can win on the road (nearly .500 in 3 seasons) and are dominant at home. That’s the exact formula it will take to win a playoff series when you don’t have HCA.

  23. A lot of you guys are forgetting that there are still 50+ games left in the season. Yes, there are teams currently playing better as of right now, but you guys are projecting their records to remain consistent throughout the full year. There isn’t one team that isn’t going to have some kind of slump this season. All teams go through it and the Lakers happen to be going through it right now. They’ve only played five games with their starting center (who still hasn’t started a game yet) and are still working in four new guys into their rotation. This team will be okay. None of this talk wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t drop this game — which isn’t any different from similar games that they’ve dropped in the previous three seasons. The Lakers lose to lesser teams every single season. No reason to get all worked up about the playoffs when we’re only in December. It’s still way too early for that.

  24. Since I’ve never undergone a sporting endeavor anywhere close to the grind of an NBA season, I can’t claim to know how the teams as a whole and also the individual players approach each game. The mentality is one part, but also how they are feeling physically. Also, finally getting home after a long road trip and going up against a so-so team that doesn’t stir up a lot of emotions isn’t the greatest motivating factor. Still, the Lakers should have played way better and beaten the Bucks.

    From the sample size we have, I think one can conclude that the team can’t dominate for 48 minutes every game, to much surprise. Sometimes their talent just wins out, sometimes they are really motivated like at Indiana recently – and then they look amazing. For every high there is probably a low, combined with the energy almost every opponent brings against the champs (see Milwaukee, Toronto…). Of the championship teams I can remember, probably only the 72-10 Bulls brought it every night. So I think all of our armchair psychology (including mine above) can’t explain what is really going on.

    What I think is more worthwhile is to look what the Lakers did badly as far as their gameplan goes. I only caugt the last 20 minutes or so, but one thing that stood out (as pointed out before) was the lack of movement off the ball and almost no quick passes to players cutting to the basket. When the Lakers looked really good, the got a lot of points this way, Pau and Kobe hitting cutters when the defense shifted towards them.

    What I saw against Milwaukee was LA going to Gasol too often (which they ususally can’t do enough for my taste) because he was being defended by the Bucks’ best individual defender in Bogut, one of the few players who can do a good job on Gasol without needing help (Noah being another on that short list).

    When Kobe tried to create late in the game, he usually did that way out on the wing. Milwaukee didn’t help too much on him either and also did a good job on the pick-and-rolls Kobe was involved in. Because they had to shift so little defensively and where nearer during close-outs, our shooters had a little less time on several occasions and became too hesitant to take the shots when they were open.

    Maybe working the ball through Kobe or Odom in the low post and having Gasol set up on the weak side could have forced the Bucks to have to send help and rotate more. But credit to them, they worked really hard on defense while the Lakers allowed the shortest guy on the court space to shoot time and again.

  25. Did anyone listen to Phil’s comments after the game?

    I thought his statement that the officials tend to favor the team that is working the hardest said it all about everything tonight.

    The Lakers took this game off – defensively and offensively. The Bucks were too good, defensively, for the Lakers to do any coasting. The Warriors would have beaten the Lakers and I consider the Bucks a better team than the Warriors.

    Perhaps the most instructive thing was that Phil ‘played’ around with his substitutions – Bynum for Gasol – something he doesn’t do during the regular season. He trys out different combinations, but normally he doesn’t jigger with his patterns.

  26. @23

    No one that I have seen is forgetting there are 50 games left, or projecting that San Antonio, Dallas, and Boston are going to win 68 games apiece.

    We are simply saying that HCA matters, and that the Lakers are now at a serious disadvantage in trying to get it.

    The other thing to remember is that the playoff matchups in the West last year spun the Lakers’ way–no SA, no DAL, no POR. May not happen again.

    It is fine to take an optimistic, day-to-day approach, focusing on strategy and fundamentals. It’s also fine to take note of the big picture and acknowledge the team’s problems.

  27. Darius @ 1 – “If you think a single game (or even a string of games) in December speak to the overall quality of a team, I’d have to strongly disagree with that perspective.”

    I would agree if was a single game (or two) of listless non performance we were seeing. However, that is not the case. The Lakers are 30 games into the season (Joe @ #4 made this same point).

    I wouldn’t argue the C’s or SA are not as good as their records indicate, because they haven’t played an entire season. To me, 30 games is a pretty good sample size.

    I’m starting to wonder when the Lakers are going to find their “ON” button. Maybe when Theo gets back …

  28. Darius – “Not to get all defiant here, but if folks really believe that the Lakers can’t win without HCA then will you still watch if they don’t get it? Is it then a foregone conclusion that they won’t win?”

    I’m not even sure I want to watch the Christmas game. PJ is already whining about how wrong it is to play on Christmas, and the Lakers have a solid(?) record of playing lousy in these games, so I fully expect it to be a(nother) stinker.

  29. With regards to catching the Celtics, Spurs, or Dallas and finishing with a better record….

    Here are the Lakers records vs teams above or below .500 over the last 3 years:

    2008: Above: 27-19, Below: 30-6
    2009: Above: 31-12, Below: 34-5
    2010: Above: 27-20, Below: 30-5
    2011: Above: 2-3, Below: 19-5 (for comparison)

    So over the last 3 years the Lakers have played roughly 45 games each season against teams above .500. They won 59% of those games in 2008, a remarkable 72% in 2009, and 57% in 2010. The average over the 3 year period was 63%.

    For the games against teams below .500 the results have been pretty consistent (83%, 87%, and 86%) with a 3-year average of 85%.

    Assume the Lakers again play 45 games against teams above .500 and 37 games against teams below .500 (gotta love playing in th West), they have already played 24 games against teams below .500 and only 5 against teams above .500… that means they should play roughly 40 more games against teams above .500 and only 13 against teams below .500 (yes… the Lakers schedule has been THAT easy).

    If we assume this team reverts back to it’s 3-year average form then they will win 63% of those 40 games against teams above .500 (25 games) and 85% of the remaining 13 games against teams below .500 (11 games). That would put the Lakers final regular season record at 57-25.

    In my opinion Dallas, San Antonio, and Boston are all going to win 60+ games so even if the Lakers play like they did in previous years, they could still be looking at being on the road to open the conference semi’s, conference finals, and NBA Finals. It is a tall task to ask any team to win the title without home court advantage for three series.

  30. There should be cause for concern – what degree of concern? Well…you can only shrug this off if the causes for this loss haven’t surfaced before. I see it as part of a developing pattern. Too much is being placed on Bynum’s return. Other guys have to play smarter and better to give Bynum the chance to fit in and not put too much pressure on himself. There’s no excuse for Gasol’s play. If he refuses to find a way to make some real contribution against Bogut or Noah, I sure hope he doesn’t start to shrug his shoulders, or raise his eyebrows when he has problems against better teams. Not really MVP like. The next week should be interesting. Miami San Anton and New Orleans.

  31. I love the way Kobe got ejected.