Lakers/Heat: Why Did I Stop Opening Gifts For This Game?

Darius Soriano —  December 25, 2010

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

When as many things go wrong as they did against the Heat and the Lakers get blown out on a Christmas for the second straight year, it’s difficult to find a place to start an analysis of the game.  The Lakers simply ran into a team that’s playing much better than they are and the result was a 96-80 thrashing that has me wondering if it’s too late to get a memory eraser for Christmas ala Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  The Lakers were simply that bad today and the Heat were really that good.

Coming into this game, the Lakers gameplan surely revolved around making the Heat a jumpshooting team in the half court and limiting their open court chances by taking care of the ball and attacking the offensive glass.  What resulted, though, was that plan not working on every level conceivable.

First of all, the Heat managed to shoot the ball well from the outside.  They may have only made 9 of their 25 three point attempts, but Lebron James made 5 of his 6 tries and that’s all that the Heat needed to ensure that the rest of their offense would run smoothly.

With James bombing away with great success, the Lakers’ perimeter defense got stretched thin rotating to James where he could then become a playmaker for his team.  He ended the night with 10 assists to only a single turnover to go along with his 27 points and 11 rebounds, consistently picking apart the Lakers defense with pinpoint passes to open teammates or getting his own shot off with relative ease as the Lakers scrambled helplessly to try and find the next open man.

And when James wasn’t doing damage, it was Wade or Bosh taking turns penetrating the Lakers defense or knocking down mid range jumpers.  Wade worked the P&R at an expert level by either turning the corner against a soft hedge or splitting the double team when the Lakers’ big men stepped out too hard.  He constantly found himself in the teeth of the Lakers defense where he either earned trips to the foul line, got an easy finish at the basket, or found an open teammate for an even easier shot.  Wade finished the night with a line of 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists but was continuously in attack mode and had the Lakers D on its heels for most of the day.

Meanwhile Bosh seemed to take this match up personally as if he was out to prove an entire country of viewers that, he’s actually quite good at this game.  He worked the edges of the Lakers D with his smooth jumper and then used his great first step to blow by defenders when they closed out too hard or tried to pressure him too closely after he’d made a catch and held the ball before making a move.  Bosh was easily the best big man in the game, hurting the Lakers inside and out and grabbing key rebounds when his team needed them.

And while the Heat made it their mission to show that they’re a team to be taken seriously, the Lakers continued to stumble along, ultimately getting frustrated with their inability to generate any momentum.  All game long finding a rhythm on offense was a problem as the Heat’s perimeter defense denied easy passing angles and forced post men to abandon solid position in order to find open space on the extended wing to make a catch.  When the Lakers big men did catch the ball, they struggled to get shots off against the length of Bosh and Ilgauskus and never got it going to be a real threat.

Especially bothered by the Heat’s combination of athletic perimeter helpers and interior height was Pau Gasol.  The Big Spaniard missed his first 7 shots and never really seemed to be an active participant in this contest.  While some of his misses could be considered tough luck, his overall movement on both sides of the ball wasn’t crisp and lacked inspiration.  Even after finding some semblance of offense in the middle part of the game, most of that success was predicated off his teammates setting him up and we all know that the Lakers’ offense is at it’s best when those roles are reversed.  I mean, when Gasol has to be spoon fed baskets in order to get his offense going rather than him being the focal point that his mates feed off, the odds of the Lakers being successful as a unit on that side of the ball decrease dramatically.

What made this game even more frustrating though was the fact that Kobe Bryant, depsite pedestrian numbers of 17 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds, actually played very well.  In the first half he set up his teammates beautifully on countless plays and was the catalyst for the offensive success that the team did have.  Kobe’s aggressive post ups led to double teams that he passed out of brilliantly to hit open teammates that either got up good shots themselves or passed on again to a Laker that was in even better position.

The only problem was that the Lakers shots just weren’t falling with enough consistency to find a flow in the game.  And without that ability to build momentum, the Lakers then started to press which ultimately fueled the Heat’s success on both sides of the ball.  By the time the 2nd half came along, the Lakers looked little like a championship contender and more like a team running experiments to try and find anything that they could call a success.  Ultimately they found some traction abandoning the Triangle entirely and going to Kobe/Gasol P&R’s but the Heat’s defense ultimately adjusted and that experiment also ended up being a false hope for traction.  The game only snowballed from there as the Lakers then wilted when the realization set that their footing for success was false and that any hope of climbing back into the contest was far fetched.

In the end, the Lakers played a horrible game and the Heat played excellent.  I’d say that I’m shocked by all this but based off how both teams had been playing coming into the game, the result shouldn’t really surprise though I know that we’re all disappointed nonetheless.  For the past few weeks I know that I’ve been mostly positive about this team’s long term chances.  And while my mind hasn’t changed about what this team can be, games like this do show me how far this team has to still go before they’re remotely close to being that contender.  They’re not defending well enough to control games when their offense isn’t going well and, sad to say, their offense isn’t performing well enough to outright win games through scoring alone.  So, what you have is close games against mediocre foes, and losses like today’s against the best teams that find their stride on both sides of the ball.  So, there is work to do and, despite games like we’ve seen against the Bucks and the Heat, I expect it to get done.  There’s simply too much talent on the court and the sidelines for it not to.  But until we see the results, we stew.  And another Christmas gets sidetracked by a bitter loss.


Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Heat: Why Did I Stop Opening Gifts For This Game?

  1. Still, the Lakers are easily the best team in the league=) There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be the best team come June if they’re healthy. (They might still lose of course, since there’s a certain amount of luck involved – but it’s unlikely.)

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  2. Darius, do you think the Lakers struggles at this point have anything to do with their mentality? I mean Magic even said the Heat wanted this game more. They wanted to prove a point. I really don’t understand why this team is performing at such a low level.

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  3. Reign on Parades December 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Jerry Buss has alluded to it many times amongst others, and I agree: on paper this team has the potential to be the best Lakers team of the last four years which is saying something considering the last three went to the Finals, with Championships the last two.

    I look at what’s obviously keeping us from full capacity: Bynum’s health (still on his way) and Ron Artest (what can we say?). We can only hope on those two guys, but just comparing the rest of the team from prior years, look at all the things working for us:

    Kobe’s healthier than he was all of last year aside from the start (can be taken either way as he looked amazing to start last year and didn’t look 100% to start this year)

    Gasol and Odom’s play. It may be something of a mirage, at least as far as Gasol’s early season MVP talk and Odom being an all-star for the first time in his career. Truthfully, they’ve played at this level without Bynum time and again. But at the very least, they’ve not lost a step.

    Derek Fisher: much better offensively this year. He’ll still have his games that make our counterparts at SS&R rage, but there’s no doubt that ’11 Fish > ’10 Fish

    The bench: massively improved over the last two champion teams. Massively.

    I just can’t quite put it together as to why this team isn’t better, and I suppose the same could be said of the team. They just can’t quite put it together.

    Still, I go back to Artest and Bynum and that’s where I find the holes. Not in their play exactly, but the holes in the team which they could fill.

    ‘Cause right now we’re like the 2008 Lakers only we’re not quite as explosive because our three point shooting has massively curtailed from what it was to start this season. And being a lesser man’s version of that team isn’t good seeing as how it was the only one that didn’t win at the end.

    What I think we’re majorly lacking is the “vaunted front court” so often spoken of, the defensive intensity of a team that last year ranked roughly third all year w/ Bynum and covered up for some truly shoddy offense, and consistency in 3 point makes by our floor stretchers.

    A healthy Bynum covers the first issue (interior size and intimidation) and half the second (defense)

    A Ron Artest achieving what we think he can would cover half the second (defense) and contribute greatly to the third (three point shooting)

    I just don’t know how reliable Bynum’s health or Ron’s play can be. But I think this year, with all the improvement around the league particularly in Boston and Miami, we’re going to need those two guys to step it up. Big time.

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  4. @Joe

    I thinks its chemistry and the desire to win that they are playing at such low level. Hence, Phil;s experimenting of the line-ups on the regular season games. It makes me also frustrated but until somebody death throne them as the champs, I’ll believe they became weaker.

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  5. Mentality was the name of the game here. Heat wanted it more. Isn’t that how most teams win games these days? How about them Bucks a couple of days ago. Let’s see who wants it more with the Spurs.

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  6. It was those nasty colored shoes. I’ve vomited bile that looked more attractive than those shoes. Next, re Makalele (there’s a curse if ever I’ve heard one), the fitting portion of the game was when IZ (as I call him) knocked down those two jumpers. That was Pau’s solution to their inside presence as well. Lastly, Makalele, if you read FB&G, there’s no reason why IZ should be burying uncontested jumpers. While you can run by him on the close out he can’t run by you. For an almost forgot, re the effort, strange days when the gripe is that you’re hearing too much about them and not enough about you, and then you go out and get blown out. In other words, expect to hear more of them. A Christmas present I was hoping to avoid (a box of rocks would surely have been better). For yet one more, since I”m on a roll (or not), seeing Andrew out there called to mind a certain scene from the Wizard of Oz, and so can someone please grab that oil can and lubricate our Tin Man. On that note, a belated safe and merry Christmas to you all (non-Christians included)(and safe before merry).

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  7. At what point should we stop and be worried?

    I’d say all-star break. Before that, I’m just not going to fuss about our team’s up and downs as long as we’re injury free.

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  8. Christmas truth. Lakers have only beaten 3 teams this year with a winning record. Thet play 33 the rest of the season. The elite teams in the league now are Bosten, Miami, spurs and Dallas. If the Lakers lose Tuesday to the Spurs they will fall to .5th in the West and 8th in the NBA. No Laker Championship team has ever been this far behind by Jan1. Artest is a joke on offense and James showed us all whatva joke he reallybis on defense. Gasoline look weak and Kobe average aganist Wade. The trute is they are not a a top 5
    NBA team now. Phil appears to be going through the motions. What are the chances of this team who scored 76 and 80 the last 2 games getting by Dallas and the Spurs without home court. If they did their is little chance of betting Bosten or Miami without home court.

    Only chance for this team is to start Bynam and LO and leave Ron on the bench to hang out with Walton.

    Lakers are burying themselves and as magic said made a joke of themselves today. Right now this team would get swept by Miami and that’s is a very sad situation.

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  9. Artest has not played well all year, and Jackson played Gasol way too many minutes at the beginning of the season. He should lost a few more games early and kept Gasol’s minutes under 40 every game.

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  10. This is more than just a bad shooting day. The Lakers are getting beat to most loose balls, and look slow and stagnant. The Heat even made them look small, unable to finish in the paint. Bench was a non factor for the most part-we’ve seen this year the bench must contribute for the Lakers to win most nights. Bynum in the post holds the ball for so long, teams don’t have to double right away. Lakers must run cutters to the hole, draw some fouls..all these isolation plays don’t lead anywhere. I’m not a Ron hater by any means, but for every good play, there seems to be a missed layup, or a dribble off his knee out of bounds. Heat had an excellent scouting report, knew how to defend the predictable Lakers. And so on, and so on…

    And the shoes didn’t help either..

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  11. Sorry for bad spelling. Hard to type while drinking humble pie nog in one hand and a cigar in the other. Now that the Thunder won welcome to the 5th place Lakers. Kobe a minus 21 today, his 3 techs in2 games and Wade a plus 21. Oh well at least Ron has a budding rap future and LO is a reality star. 34 points down in the last 2 games at home. As Alfred E Newman Jackson says in in press conference “why me worry”. Right!

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  12. 3? Ive only counted ONE win against a team with a winning record and thats the bulls. I really did not expect the lakers to be this bad they just seem uninterested we will see if they will turn out like last years boston team cruising tru the season and turning it on come playoff time, or if they will be more like last years spurs, digging themselves in a hole too deep to get out of.

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  13. Still, I go back to Artest and Bynum and that’s where I find the holes.

    __

    Blake is not helping the team right now, either.

    There is a long a way to go, but we need to realize that:

    a) This team is old and has a lot of mileage.
    b) Andrew Bynum is probably never going to be the same as he was back in 2008 before the injuries started.

    I am certainly not giving up on them, but I think these negative aspects are part of the complete picture of the Lakers right now.

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  14. I, for one, think this was one of Ron’s better games. It was a shame that the refs called two quick touch fouls for breathing on LeBron in the 1st quarter. The last 8 minutes in the 1st quarter (after Ron went out), and the first 5 mins in the 4th quarter is really where the game was lost. We were up 7-2 before Ron went out, then the Heat went on a run to push it to 10-17. In the 4th, we were down 64-75, then we had two misses and two horrible turnovers to push the Heat lead to 17.

    I think it’s a lack of mental concentration. The Lakers definitely weren’t focused on defense the way they were in Game 7 of the Finals last year, and those short lapses turned an even game into a blowout.

    The weak links today were Blake’s poor shooting and Pau’s difficulty with Big Z, a guy whom he’s always struggled against.

    I think the much more important game is Tuesday against San Antonio, because we will almost certainly have to play them in the playoffs, whereas it’ll likely be a 50-50 proposition at most that we’ll play the Heat.

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  15. Lakers beat Chicago, Utah and Suns back when thet had a winning record. Based on opts win lost record that Lakers have had the easiest schedule in the NBA. The easiest! Of course they also have a lowest rated starting offensive small forward in shooting and rebound in Ron and the lowest rated point guard in combo of point and assists. Hard to win when 40% of your starting team is last in the NBA. And the reason they will get better is???? Oh yea I forgot we are the Lakers.

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  16. Thanks Darius for taking the time to create a good game wrap-up for us disgruntled fans today. I agree with Zephid, the Spurs game is very important for us to show that we have what it takes to win the West.

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  17. Darius, was making the Heat a jump shooting team really the Lakers plan? Because if so that is some of the worst gameplanning I have ever seen, coming into the game the Heat players were scorching from the field and they have some excellent shooters as their supporting cast and 2 of them didn’t even play (Miller, House). Quite frankly defense is where championships are won, I could care less about the offensive end because that works itself out when a team plays great D (look at game 7 of the Finals last year as an example). Until this team finds the pride they had last year in those game 6 and 7 Finals victories, they will remain average and that’s just the way it is. The rest of the league has retooled to compete with the Lakers (even bottom feeders) and they have thrown the first punch, unfortunately the Lakers are yet to punch back, and sadly this is the mentality with the toughest remaining schedule left in the NBA. Right now HCA is a longshot, this team just needs to worry about getting their giant Egos out of the locker room.

    Zephid, I second your thoughts on Artest’s game tonight, it was the best he has looked in some time, and if he hit some of those easy bunnies around the rim he’s probably one of the best Lakers on the floor.

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  18. Bitter, frustrating… it’s not the loss so much as how they lost. Still, we’re still the champions, and it’s a lot of season left. A lot.

    At the same time, this new tradition of Christmas Day blow out losses has gotten old very quickly… :p

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  19. It seems like every year everyone on the board freaks out. The Lakers couldn’t have played any worse and Miami couldn’t have been better. Z and Bosh had the best games of their seasons, Lebron was shooting like Ray Allen and got a triple double. Let’s not get carried away. This loss will be better for the team in the long run. Phil will use this embarrassment to push the team to reach their potential.

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  20. Yusuf,

    Are you saying that this Miami team is not going to get better? That they have peaked with this game?

    How about their injured players? Are they not coming back?

    Maybe you are right about the Lakers playing badly, and adjusting for next time. But let’s not kid ourselves about Miami.

    This is just the beginning for them. They have played together as a unit for 30 games. That’s it.
    They are going to get better and better.

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  21. @Ken
    yeh my bad, i ment teams that now have winning records, i dont remember lakers beating jazz tho, guess i must have forgotten.

    What sparks my curiosity is that appart from kobe the players just dont seem to want it, even phil looks i dunno bored, i get a very strange feeling from this team, and thats more unsetling than todays pounding

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  22. I’ll begin to panic when the team still plays like this with Bynum back as a starter and in the “normal” rotation.

    However, the two quick fouls on Artest, I believe, severely affected the outcome of the game. While it might still be a loss, I don’t think the Lakers would have been slaughtered like this. Did we not sign Artest because, compared to Trevor, he is more capable of guarding bigger, stronger SFs in the league? And who comes to mind when we think about fast and strong small forwards? Like Zephid said, those two fouls Artest picked up for breathing on James were ridiculous.

    This did kind of ruin my Christmas, but I won’t lose sleep over it. I’ve taken on a zen-like approach. What will happen, will happen. No matter how frustrated or disgusted we feel, the Lakers will accomplish, or fail, on their own accord. We have zero impact on the team and its players, so I’m just going along for the ride. Hopefully, the outcome is a positive one.

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  23. “Midway through the second round of the playoffs last season the Lakers hadn’t done anything impressive. They squeezed past the neophytes from Oklahoma City in six games and allowed 212 points to an injury-depleted Jazz squad in two games. They didn’t look like worthy successors to the illustrious list of Lakers champions. Then it dawned on me that they didn’t have to be. All they had to do was outlast what was out there in a diminished Western Conference and survive the challenger from the East. They did, barely.

    Good enough isn’t good enough this season. The Spurs and Mavericks are better. And do the Lakers really want to see the Thunder in the playoffs now that Oklahoma City has an idea of what to do?”—J.A. Adande

    I think the Lakers should read this, maybe they will then have something they would like to prove.

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  24. 24 – I am just a frustrated as any fan. But I am not interested in some sportswriter’s “they only won the title because of x, y, and z” drivel. The Lakers won the last two NBA championships. That is no fluke. That accomplishment is no “exception” or lucky feat. This recent version of the C’s couldn’t do it. The Spurs have never done it. Back to back is a legit as it gets. JA is pretending to be insightful.

    However, in the here and now none of that is important. The Lakers sure don’t look like a team on it’s way to a three-peat. It just seems like these guys can’t get up for big games anymore. I think it is a combination of age, mileage, and general malaise that sets in on a team that has made three straight trips to the Finals.

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  25. I would have to say that a three-peat is/should be considered rare and hard to do by any team, on any Continent, and in any League on this planet. The World Champion Los Angeles Lakers have been put on a very high pedestal this season, for sure. We still have 2/3 of the games left though, and I am not going to write the Lakers off until they stop playing basketball this year and next.

    “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

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  26. Another pathetic Christmas performance by the Lakers 2 years in a row. The Lakers had to show up with that same game 6 and 7 finals intensity against Miami Heat or they were going to get beat down and I was right. Miami Heat played this game like it was the playoffs. All those Laker fans that went to the game wasted their money

    Everything went perfect for the Heat and they pretty much made no mistakes in that game. The 2007 Lakers are showing up all of a sudden.

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  27. I believe #19 said it best: A lot of season left.

    The Lakers will be ready. I have too much faith in the core of the team and Jackson and his coaching staff. Jackson has proven it time and time again.

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  28. Let hope the players doesn’t zone out each other like how Charlotte zone out their coach.

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  29. The Lakers game heavily relies on their height advantage. When they don’t have it, as it is the case right with Bynum not playing substantial minutes, they suffer against good teams or mediocre teams playing well. And of course, the confidence level is the key to success. After loosing to the Bucks, you know the Lakers were psychologically perturbed. When they had doubts about their games, they were emotionally fragile. So there went the game as well. The Lakers didn’t really have a chance yesterday. It was inevitable.

    To recover from this psychological pit-hole, Lakers needs energy infusion from Bynum. With Bynum back into the starting lineup, Gasol and Odom, as well as the team, can settle into the “normal rotation”, and a sense of completeness as a team. I think it was how the team came together in the latter part of the last season. Let’s hope this is going to happen again. And we all believe this will happen!

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  30. You see, the problem when I said “complacency” few games into the season when the Lakers were letting weaker teams sneak on them, is that it was deemed “laughable” and “bandwagon material”. Now Kobe says it and everyone believes.

    If they think that they can “turn it on” against championship-contending teams anytime like they do against the weaker teams, they’ll get what happened on the Christmas Day. If it’s not bothering I don’t know what to call it, but the record we have against over.500-teams isn’t something to be proud about. And it’s not just the record, it’s the way we play against them that makes it frustrating.

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  31. I think that they needed getting spanked and embarrassed like this. If they had won the game, there would be a tendency to think “See? I knew we turn it on when we wanted.” So far this team hasn’t cared enough to put in a full effort and be focused. Probably a combination of cockiness, waiting on Bynum to come back, and a lack of hunger. Getting rings takes away the edge with a lot of players. Hopefully they can get that back. Bynum coming back will obviously help, but as someone noted earlier, there’s at least a reasonable chance that he will never get back to his previous levels of mobility – so they can’t assume that his return will be the answer by itself. And Kobe needs to be willing to let the focus of the offense not be him.

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  32. I’m not that worried about the current standings in the West. Duncan is afraid of the Lakers and crumbles under pressure, and Dirk is once again preparing to be “upset” by a lower-seeded team in the playoffs.

    As for the East…

    Howard has yet to prove himself. Boston has not one but four talented leaders, and with Shaq and Jermaine in the mix they become slightly more of a threat than the team that barely lost last year’s Finals. Still, none of them are near Kobe’s caliber and LA knows they can beat them.

    On the other hand, we don’t really have a legitimate reason to believe the Lakers will defeat the Heat should they face each other in the Finals. The Cavs had their way with the Lakers last season, and now LeBroid’s on a far better team that’s just starting to get into their rhythm and will soon have Mike Miller back in their arsenal.

    Artest will probably step it up in the Finals again, but there’s a big difference between defending against Paul Pierce, whose main talent is faking fouls and injuries, and defending against LeBroid James, who is one of the strongest and fastest players in the league.

    The main advantage the Lakers have is in their size, and that’s only if Bynum is healthy. My Google search on the phrase “if Bynum is healthy” returned about 24,500 results. I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet he won’t be, and without him, Gasol becomes the “soft” center and it’s a domino effect from there.

    Go Joe Smith?!!

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  33. The only word I can think of is “devestated.”

    What happened last year happened last year.

    For whatever reason, against logical analysis, this Laker team is either not very good–or has not arrived.

    Right now, the Lakers are barely good enough to make the playoffs.

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  34. Wake me up when the playoffs start.

    This is a championship team. You cannot win the championship in December. And, the only way to lose it in December is injuries to key players.

    Phil always has a long term plan, and it tends to get his teams peaking as they head into the playoffs.

    Patience.

    (And, yeah, wake me when the playoffs start. I don’t actually have the patience to watch a game like yesterdays again and not eat my couch cushions in frustration.)

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  35. Lets all be honest. Kobe and Gasol have to play better. We’re looking for excuses but in our losses you could point to either of them or both of them not playing well. 17 points for Kobe and 16 points for Gasol will not get it done against any good teams. I sense that Kobe is going to go into attack mode if things don’t turn around quickly.

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  36. Does anyone know what’s up with Gasol? He came out of the gates like a beast and then as soon as the talk of possible MVP started he seemed to wilt altogether.

    At first I thought it was only the fact that we’d lost Ratliff and he was tired, but since Bynum’s return Pau has still seemed unable to get going at all. It’s like that perfect game just sucked all of the mojo out of Pau and thereby the rest of the Lakers too.

    I agree with Darius that despite Kobe’s pedestrian numbers, he played a very solid game. He’s been doing that a lot lately – trying to keep everyone else going because he knows he can’t win these games by himself.

    We need Pau back on-track. I wish I knew what was wrong with him.

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  37. 33-

    Duncan has been on four championship teams and Nowitzki is now paired with Chandler on a deep team. The Lakers certainly CAN beat either of those teams but they are not better than either of them at the moment.

    I have seen both Boston and Miami play several times, as have most people here, I assume. Both those teams are better than the Lakers are right now. Miami proved it yesterday.

    As far as the “turn it on in the playoffs” meme goes, that is partly true and partly false. The 2009 team was better than this team. The 2010 team got three straight favorable matchups and took advantage, then rode homecourt past Boston in Game 7.

    This team can win without HCA and it would be foolish to give up on them. But the team’s problems and limitations…

    1. Age
    2. Lack of quickness and leaping ability
    3. Bynum’s health and diminished explosiveness
    4. Poor production from good system players (Artest, Blake, Fisher) that, at times, ouweighs the “good fit” angle
    5. Inconsistent outside shooting

    ..are real.

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  38. In the 2nd half if they hadn’t committed those stupid turnovers they might have put a run together and given themselves a chance to steal a win on a day when they weren’t shooting the ball well. It was ugly all game long but those passes they were making into the interior were begging to be picked off.

    Another thing I was disappointed in was Pau. I thought he wanted a few fouls called in the 1st quarter that were no-calls and it took him out of his game.

    Crappy Christmas day game but I’m definately more worried about the Lakers as a team right now than their rivalry with the Heat. I would like to see the Lakers practice this Monday. Kobe was quoted as saying he’s going to kick some ass at the next practice.

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  39. Well, will see how Lakers come out against Spurs on Tuesday. I think their poor defense has been their own worst enemy this season and even some of last season. The Lakers are making average teams they play against look like elite teams.

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  40. They’ve been off-track since that loss to Utah that started the current skid. It’s almost like Sloan, after that huge first quarter, figured out how to frustrate the Lakers defensively, and the rest of the league picked up on it too. They haven’t seemed to be in sync offensively since then, and let’s be honest, they only defend extremely well when the offense is clicking.

    Barnes and Blake seem to have cooled off after their ridiculous starts to the season. Brown’s been about the same, but in shorter minutes.

    I think something’s up with Artest. The offense completely breaks down when he gets the ball. Invariably when he gets the ball on the wing when defenders collapse on Kobe, open for a three, he consistently takes a dribble, moves to his right, and either chucks up a contested three or tosses it in to Gasol, whether he’s got position or not, in a way I can only describe as “panicked”.

    Compare the way the offense runs when Ron’s in versus, say, Luke Walton, who, all his flaws aside knows the offense cold.

    Ron’s continuing struggles with the triangle, and (I think) some nagging injury they haven’t disclosed are killing the offense.

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  41. I’m not watching any more Christmas games, as it turns what should be a laid back, family oriented holiday (actually celebrating the birth of Christ if you are Christian), into one filled with lots of cursing and frustration.

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  42. The day after . . .

    I respect drrayeye and his comments, the following is so very true out of what he said earlier in this thread, “Right now, the Lakers are barely good enough to make the playoffs”, so at least we will get into the playoffs this season, huh?

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  43. I couldnt help but think yesterday about last years Bynum for Bosh rumors…lots of what ifs there.

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  44. Honestly, I just don’t care about this loss, at this point in the season, at all.

    It’s way too early for this “sky is falling” nonsense. The Lakers played bad because they just didn’t really look like they cared that much and shots weren’t falling. It’s really as simple as that. This is a team that the Lakers would soundly thrash in a 7 game series. We have better coaching, more talent and more depth. The only thing the Lakers lack is the same thing they almost always lack for most of the season: the desire to pummel all of their opponents.

    It’s not even the all-star break yet, guys. Way too soon for all this fretting.

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  45. To my Laker faithful I say this. Remember at the end of last year when we we’re all pressing the big red panic button. We had lost something like 4 of 5 goin into the playoffs and we didn’t think we could beat the Clippers let alone win the championship. Then we drew OKC in the playoffs looked old, kobe drained his knee, Bynum was big and gasol got tough. Look, the Heat are peaking right now, we aren’t, we shouldn’t want to be. I know its frustrating, but its our reality right now.We’ll get it together, this team is to vet heavy not to. So for now lets take these growing pains and respect the journey to the “three-peat”, and let Miami and the rest of the league have their little fun. See you in June bitches, lol.

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  46. I told you guys: They’re gonna lose. They always bomb on Christmas and most big games during the season. For whatever subconscious reason, they like to choke and make everyone count them out, only to actually decide to play come playoff time.

    Remember getting blown out by Cleveland last year? And by Boston and Miami all those other times? And then we get to the Finals and win championships. True Laker followers would have seen this coming. I chuckled the entire game and even won $25 from a naive Laker fan.

    We’ll win a 3rd ring in June, and I’ll be laughing at all the Miami fans who are taunting right now. Until then, I’ll care about the game when our team does, and not a second before.

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  47. 43) miles
    That thought occurred to me, too.

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  48. Lakerfan in Raptorland December 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    “The tournament trophy is never awarded at the teebox. It is always given at the 18th hole on sunday.”

    I’d say the start of the nba playoffs
    is the final round sunday of a golf tourney.

    Right now the lakers are not good off the tee and is just scrambling to make par. The good news is that we all know that this team has the personell and the experience to reach and do well in the playoffs.

    What happens between now and the end of the regular season is just drama before the real season begins.

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  49. 48)
    “I’d say the start of the nba playoffs
    is the final round sunday of a golf tourney.”

    Then you agree that the regular season is important, just like Th, Fr, Sa of a golf tournament is.

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  50. I’ve always liked the optimism in this site, it’s what separates this blog from almost everyone else, but sometimes we need to address the concern directly on-hand and not sugarcoat it with “Championships are won in June” thing.

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  51. Even though this team has shown it can get things together in the playoffs, the thing to worry about is that for the first time in 3 years we could end up having to win at least 2 series without HCA. We haven’t opened on the road in the Western conference playoffs since 2007, but that is a real possibility with Dallas and San Antonio starting so well. These games do matter, even if the actual performances may not at the end of the day.

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  52. Terrible game of course but a lot of food for thought in this thread. I watched the game in the midst of a big family get-together, loud, dysfunctional and fueled by plenty of drink. The giant HD big screen had a hard time competing with the revelers drifting in front of it but one thing that really stuck out, was what Matt R. mentions above – what’s going on with Pau? He just doesn’t look like his head is in it. ex is right about the team needing to have their noses stuck in it but they’ll need more than a wake-up call to deal with the Spurs. Those guys are playing very sound ball right now and the Lakers need to get back to doing the same.

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  53. Lakerfan in Raptorland December 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    @49
    Yes I agree that the regular season counts. I think all fans would like to have hca. I just have seen too many nba seasons (and golf as well) that have good frontrunners. But is it not a joy to watch scramblers? I have conceded that the celts and spurs (among many) are playing better than the lakers but I think the law of averages will catch up with them as well.

    Am I too optomistic? Maybe, but each loss still sucks and it still ruins my day. May it come from the bucks or the heat.

    But seeing the raptors all these years I’m glad I’m a Lakers fan 😉

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  54. The Heat used a zone based defense scheme that totally befuddled the Lakers. This reminds me of the Suns’ usage of zone defense in the playoffs, which totally threw the Lakers. However, the team adjusted to it and we know the rest of the story. In a game like the one against the Heat, it’s more difficult to adjust on the fly. That is why we struggle in “big games” because teams seem to throw funky schemes against us. Long story short, we should be able to adjust to the Heat’s defense in a seven game series.

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  55. Anyone else notice that Lebron’s “headband” is essentially a toupee?

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  56. 43- Had the Lakers gone through with that Bosh for Bynum trade Bosh would have been eaten alive by Perkins, Wallace, and probably Rondo as well in last year’s Finals. Let’s not get carried away here.

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  57. 42, that’s just some major hyperbole on drrayeye’s part. Otherwise it’s a massive lack of perspective, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Unless you think we’re going to somehow lose our division to the Suns, we’re not “barely good enough” to make the playoffs. We may only be the 4th seed, but we’re going to easily make the playoffs. Saying otherwise is really the type of arrogance that make people hate Laker fans, especially if you cheer for a team like Portland or Houston that are actually on the playoff bubble.

    I’m not the biggest Bynum supporter, and I definitely would’ve supported dealing him for a Chris Paul + Emeka Okafor package in the summer, but Chris Bosh is not the answer. He’s basically Gasol, but slightly worse in almost every way. That may not seem true given Gasol’s struggles of late, but remember that Chris Bosh was playing like a large turd early in the Heat season too.

    I would hope that after 2 long championship runs, more fans would realize that the same complaints have been made year after year. We played like crap for long stretches in 08-09, and we played like crap for longer stretches in 09-10. Fans will always say, “well this year is different” as if they’re certain of the outcome, but fans thought the same things the past two years. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, I would’ve hoped that more people would be able to keep their cools after a few bad games.

    As Kurt always used to say, enjoy the season. It’s long, it’s boring at times, but we get to watch a team that has a good chance to win every night, regardless of who they play. Don’t allow the burden of expectations to ruin a fun experience.

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  58. 55. great call.

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  59. 57) Zephid,
    Bosh would have been better in the playoffs than a hobbled Bynum. That’s the problem with Bynum. He’s undependable, but the team is forced to depend on him due to the makeup of the roster.

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  60. @33

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Kobe played well but he looked SLOW against DWade. I know everyone does, but does that mean he should be abused so badly everytime Wade got the ball. Kobe needs help and yes when and if Bynum gets healthy he will protect the middle unlike Gasol.

    The Lakers need younger or more hunger players who can control a game. That’s why I didn’t like Sasha for JSmith. Varejao or Thadeus Young should have been the targets. Screw the money Darius.

    Blake runs the offense well but won’t shoot unless forced and then if he’s off he’s off (how many o’fers has he had this year, 5 and 10 1’fers).

    Ron Ron is distracted (so is Odom but he’s playing well so shhh). Barnes is not the stopper we thought he would be. Pau looks gased and Bynum is still hurt. Play Ebanks and see what his length can do on a DWade or a fast point guard. This is why a couple of us were so sold on Dorrell Wright.

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  61. 59, ex, I agree that Bynum is undependable, which is why I would’ve loved to see us get back a dependable center in Okafor, a guy who hasn’t missed a game for 3+ years now. But really, all we needed from Bynum was 10-12 minutes of solid defense + rebounding, and he gave us that the past couple of years. It’s a testament to how great the rest of the team is since they were able to win the championship twice with a shell of Bynum.

    However, Chris Bosh doesn’t rebound well, doesn’t defend well, and makes a living off shooting long two’s and driving past guys in the high post. Really, he’s a more athletic, less skilled, defensively inept Pau Gasol. Bynum may not be the answer, but Bosh is definitely not the answer.

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  62. Wade played Kobe very well on d. It seemed he could stay in front and above Kobe, which made it hard for Kobe to elevate his shot and create space. I don’t know why the lakers went away from odom. That got us the lead and it forced bosh to play d. Bosh hit a lot of open shots. He didn’t create a lot, he just was left alone. It looked like the plan was to let lebron and wade get their looks, and lebron was not a happy camper with artest on him like right guard. The refs did not let artest play, but gave some leeway to other players. Bynum is woefully out of shape, but it does not help when Blake does not give him timt to set up down low. That should get better with time, they don’t know each other. Farmar had a good on court play with drew. Its going to take a looong time for drew to get back to playing well, which should have been obvious to anyone who has had knee surgery. Pau is just playing horribly. And there is no excuse for his play. The lakers can’t play much worse. In theory they played better since they pretty much scored the same as they did against the bucks. But unless the spurs are unable to get to the alamo dome, it is going to be very tough to get a win. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

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  63. Bosh for Bynum would have been a disaster. Rupaul got banged on by Pauline Pierce for God’s sake. The little faker blew him up. Can you imagine that happening to Bynum? I didn’t think so.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkVRhUQobXg

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  64. Right now, the Lakers are barely good enough to make the playoffs.

    ====================

    This is the type of ridiculous, and quite frankly, obnoxious garbage that we have to listen to EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Fans are Myopic, it’s very easy to understand why so no explanation is necessary. And what happens every year? It turns out to be a short term episode. Just look back a month or so and you’ll see people calling this team unstoppable, 3-peet destined and all the like. Now we have to hear people claim that the Lakers WONT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS, lol.

    What’s new? Fans are fans.

    Will this team win a championship? I’m not sure. It’s very hard to win a championship and almost impossible to win a 3-peet. But whether this team wins a ring or not, doesn’t depend on a few week stretch here or there. A 4 game losing streak wont do it, a 16 point loss to the Heat won’t do it either.

    We’ll just have to wait and see.

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  65. Zephid,
    Bosh is not someone to build a team around. A healthy Bynum might be, but we don’t know yet. But a healthy Bosh provides more than a hobbled Bynum. And because they don’t have a B/U 4, they need more than 10-12 minutes of “healthy” Bynum, they need at least 16-20 minutes from him, preferably more, so that Odom and Gasol only have to play 38-40 minutes each. Right now it’s a moot point, because the roster “is what it is” (I hate that expression!). It will be interesting to see what they do in another year or so, when his contract is in the final year.

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  66. The cliches on this topic are out of control. Yes we Lakers fans pushed the panic button last year as we ended the season poorly but we did it for good reason. Kobe wasn’t healthy. Does anyone think we would have won the title had Kobe not had his knee drained? The concern this season for me is that we aren’t playing well and I honestly can’t really figure out why. We have everyone back, Kobe isn’t taking a lot of shots, we get the ball down low to Gasol and we still aren’t looking like a top notch team. Can anyone depict what is really wrong at this point?

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  67. Rudy, that’s the weird thing to me as well. This team has gone through about 3 or 4 rough periods in the first couple months of the season, and every time there seems to be a different diagnosis: lazy defense, sloppy offense, Pau being tired, Kobe shooting too much, lack of frontcourt depth, and of course, the tried-and-tested ‘bored Lakers’ narrative.

    In my less-than-expert opinion there are two overarching concerns: Pau’s recent struggles and Artest horrendous play all season. I think the first issue will solve itself somewhat as Bynum establishes himself as a starter again to reduce Pau’s workload.

    Artest’s malaise is what worries me more. He has somehow managed to look more tentative and erratic offensively, and his defense appears to be slipping as well. From what I’ve been reading all season he doesn’t seem to be overly bothered about his play either. Does he have the mental focus required to help us win another title? I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt but he is Ron Artest, and we’ve only had him for a year.

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