Around the World (Wide Web)

Phillip Barnett —  February 17, 2011

From Tom Withers, The Lakers hit the All-Star break broken. Looking nothing like two-time defending NBA champions, they dropped their third straight game, a stunning 104-99 loss Wednesday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers – the league’s worst team, which avenged a 55-point embarrassment against Los Angeles last month. Ramon Sessions came off the bench and scored a season-high 32 points for the Cavs, who were beaten 112-57 by the Lakers on Jan. 11. That loss was No. 11 in a league-record streak that eventually reached 26 before Cleveland ended it last week with an overtime win against L.A.’s less-heralded squad, the Clippers. Pau Gasol had 30 points and 20 rebounds for the Lakers.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: With their heads slumped, the Lakers walked off the court of Quicken Loans Arena with no reasons to stop staring at the ground. The Lakers with their 104-99 loss Wednesday to the Cleveland Cavaliers concluded a seven-game trip at 4-3, marked their third consecutive defeat and erased any positive feelings coming out of their 4-0 start, including a signature victory over the Boston Celtics. The Lakers enter the All-Star break with plenty of things to correct, but with no practice time to do it. And those believing a few days off could help the team rest are forgetting that there are plenty of the festivities surrounding All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. It’s debatable that the Lakers’ loss to Cleveland would have more significant long-term implications than their much-needed victory against Boston, but that’s not how the Lakers should think right now.

From Mark Whicker, OC Register: The end of the Lakers’ trip revealed a team that appears to be at the end of the line. With Ramon Sessions taking the ball anywhere he wanted on the way to 32 points Wednesday night, Cleveland improved its NBA-worst record to 10-46 with a 104-99 upset of a Lakers team that had pounded the Cavaliers by 55 on Jan. 12. That’s three consecutive losses on a seven-game trip that began with four consecutive victories. In this one the Lakers wasted Pau Gasol’s first-ever 30-point, 20-rebound game and watched a scrambling last-minute comeback fall short.

From John Krolik, Pro Basketball Talk: It’s safe to say that the All-Star Break couldn’t be coming at a better time for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers lost the last three games of their recent seven-game road trip, and their struggles culminated in a shocking loss to the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. The 10-46 Cavaliers were coming off a 15-point home loss to the Washington Wizards, and had not won a game in regulation since November 27th, 2010, but looked like the superior team against the defending champions. The Lakers looked tired, disinterested, and frustrated throughout the game. Kobe Bryant picked up an early technical in the first quarter, and looked completely out of sorts all night; he shot 8-24 from the field, did not draw a single foul, turned the ball over seven times, and sealed his team’s fate by forcing quick threes late in the game.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: After four strong wins to start their seven-game trip, a setback against a talented and increasingly desperate Orlando Magic team Sunday afternoon was fairly easy to swallow. Losing by 20 the next evening in Charlotte, the Lakers’ fourth game in five days and sixth in a long trip, with a flu-ridden Kobe Bryant in a place they (for reasons scientists will spend the next three decades trying to determine) historically struggle was undeniably ugly, but at least able to be explained away. This despite a 122-character, fully tweetable postgame media meeting in which Phil Jackson said he was “embarrassed” by the team’s performance.  But in a season already marred with more losses against sub-.500 teams than in all of 2009-10, with only two wins in eight tries against the NBA’s top five squads, nothing papers over Wednesday’s 104-99 loss to a Cavaliers squad that entering the game had dropped 37 of its previous 39 games, including a 55-point loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. Even the most purple and gold of Pollyannas probably were throwing shoes through their flatscreens.

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Putting tonight’s loss in perspective requires more words than have been invented in the English language. If, rather than playing a game of basketball tonight, the Lakers had instead broken into the homes of every one of their fans and taken a huge dump on our living room floors, we’d all have had a more enjoyable evening. If there were a UN Tribunal for Crimes Against Basketball, nearly every person on the Lakers payroll would be locked up and awaiting trial in The Hague. It’s tempting to say the season has hit rock bottom, but you know, I’m done underestimating the ability of this team to plumb new depths of embarrassment. We’re going to hear about this loss all season long, and possibly further. As well we should. If the Celtics or Heat had faceplanted this egregiously, we’d never stop reminding their fans of it, so there’s no real option here other than to endure all the mockery hurled our way. Nothing but another championship will erase this stain.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: Advocating for mental health has produced all kinds of trickle effects for Ron Artest.His visit last fall to Eastmont Intermediate School to speak about mental health issues led to him being awarded the keys to the city of Las Vegas in recognition of his charitable efforts and public service announcement. His decision to raffle off his championship ring raised over $600,000 for charities. And his willingness to speak out on the issue earns him an appearance Thursday in Washington, where he will be highlighting, on behalf of Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk), the merits of the proposed Mental Health in Schools Act, which would provide $200 million in funding. The timing of Artest’s appearance isn’t exactly perfect, considering the Lakers’ 104-99 loss Wednesday to the league’s worst team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which he went zero for one from the field in only 17 minutes of play. It also doesn’t jibe well with the ongoing concern that Artest is stretching himself too thin and has mixed priorities, the latest being his tweet half an hour after the game to promote his new mixtape. But in fairness, the Washington appearance was set up a while ago and it falls on All-Star weekend.

From Steve Aschburner, The day after the NBA got a new record-holder for 3-point field goals — the perpetually in motion Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics — the league’s all-time leader in 2-point baskets was on the move too. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — whose 15,836 2-point field goals represent 99.99 percent of his lifetime NBA regular-season work (he was 1-for 18 from outside the arc that arrived for his final 10 seasons) — had spent several days in New York and New Jersey screening his film “On The Shoulders of Giants,” a documentary about the Harlem Renaissance Big Five, basketball’s first all-black team. Abdul-Jabbar was the film’s executive producer, after writing the 2007 book about the Rens that served as its launching pad.

Lastly, check out Darius on the Ed The Sports Fan Unsportsmanlike Conduct Online Radio Show. Darius talks all star weekend, gives his thoughts on the 3-point contest and talks, of course, about the Lakers and their current struggles. Darius’ segment begins around the 47:30 mark.

Phillip Barnett


to Around the World (Wide Web)

  1. I have not slept since the Orlando loss. Nor have I eaten. I have dedicated every moment to comprehending what is going on with the Lakers. I have assiduously studied game tape. I have pored over every article and every quote. From the depths of my sleep deprived brain a single word answer has finally emerged.


    The Lakers are betting on their own games.

    Is there any other explic for the inexplicable? Any other fathom for the unfathomable?

    The players are taking it in turns to tank the game so suspiscion does not fall on any one player.

    Mystery solved, I am now going to sleep. Wake me when the playoffs start.


  2. It seems now everything is coming apart.
    Hopefully the team players do not act as we fans.
    Really, it is not that bad. What can happen? Lakers do not win this year. If you do not remember this is the most probable outcome (every year).

    I still believe in this team. I believe they will group toguether again and will go through those times and they will be a contender when playoffs come.
    What I am sure is they will try the hardest they can. Thinking they do not, it is just too simplistic way to see things.
    It is very hard to have chemistry in the court, and it is hard to win. It is very hard to be NBA Champions.
    I am happy they are fighting now to have an identity as a group, since they still have time to fix it.


  3. I’m usually one of the more pollyanna Laker fans. But I’m very disheartened currently and the faith about this season has just about flickered out.

    Ugh, where is my refuge from this insanity? That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about this site is the rationality and calmness. Hope it doesn’t devolve into a lot of the inanity seen in other sites.


  4. Comments have been deleted moderated. You know who you are and what the subject matter of your comments were. If you have a question as to why, please email me. There’s a contact me link in the right sidebar.


  5. I tried warning people about this team about 20 or so games back. It does not surprise me at all. We talk about how important it is to have faith and trust in your team and to not give up on them, but there comes a point where you lose it and the team needs to prove to you and the fans that they still have it. For me it was about 20 games back and for many of you I see that it is now. I don’t think there is any fault in not trusting the team. They have underachieved big time and don’t even go out and play hard every night. It is disgusting that this team lets one of the worst NBA teams in history beat up on them like that. Hey Lakers, if you end up with the 3rd seed, good luck having to get through Dallas and San Antonio, and if you manage to somehow get passed that, the Celtics or Heat on the road. You guys take the regular season so lightly, thats fine. But just remember, you usually get what you deserve.


  6. Even with the Lakers struggling, there is always something to laugh about; like this interview with Pau Gasol–


  7. Mimsy’s Hubby (Jim C.) February 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I’m currently taking time for reflection on this.

    The Lakers are not a good team right now. (emphasis on “RIGHT NOW” record aside) They also do not at all look like a team capable of winning a title. I normally am not a big Hollinger fan given his over-reliance on stats, but he said something profoundly smart in his chat today.

    There’s nothing that the Lakers can point to as an explanation for WHY they’ve been so bad. Barnes aside, the team has been very healthy for weeks. They’ve played a lot of games in a short amount of time of late, but they aren’t THAT old and, frankly, a 60% Laker effort should have been enough to beat the Cavs.

    They haven’t been working in new players. Roles are clearly understood and well-defined. What alarms me at the moment is that I’m not sure we can legitimately say any longer, “If the Lakers bring their best game they can beat anyone else’s best game.”

    And that is what frightens me. I know that this is the same team as last year, but I’m not sure that the same team as last year – one year older – is still good enough any longer.

    Starting at the top: (Warning negativity and some venting ahead)

    1. Kobe gets worn out easier. He’s no longer made of iron. He’s looked flat out tired far too often the last couple of weeks. It’s also a dirty little secret that his defense has been very poor of late.

    2. Pau is unreliable in crunch time situations and has resurrected concerns about his toughness. We need the Pau from the first month of the season more often. Remember that guy? The one that Bynum’s return was supposed to bring back?

    3. Lamar Odom is awesome, but is a headcase prone to making really dumb decisions. Still, I worry about him way less than I used to. Very bright spot.

    4. Bynum has peaked. I am going to say this, and I am going to stand by it. Point at his age all you want, but look at his stat lines the last few years. There is no upward trajectory. There’s no indicators that he’s going to eventually realize the “potential” that everyone keeps talking about.

    5. Artest seems to have cratered in a matter of months. I don’t know how it happened, but did he step into a time machine and age five years between last season and this one? He’s as lost as ever offensively, but what’s worse is that he is not a consistent lock-down defender any longer.

    6. Fisher’s abysmal offensive production mask the fact that he’s the single worst PG defensively in the league. Ramon Sessions just lit him up for 32 points and 8 assists. RAMON SESSIONS! He’s the backup point guard on the Cleveland Cavs!

    7. Shannon Brown is a bright spot in a lot of ways. I love the leap he’s made in his jump shot and the energy he brings to a game when he checks in. Unfortunately, I also think he’s starting to rival the great Slava Medvedenko for chuckery.

    8. Steve Blake – Can we just file a missing person’s report now? Are we sure he’s still on the active roster? I see he logged some minutes yesterday, but can anyone actually remember seeing him?

    That’s good enough.

    This is still a VERY GOOD team, but I’m starting to wonder if it is a GREAT team any longer.

    Hopefully a few days off for the All-Star weekend combined with relentless questioning of their manhood by all the media that is about to converge upon LA will fix some of this.

    But I’m starting to get very worried that we can’t just point to the usual “They’re not interested in the regular season” explanation for much longer.

    Of course, a couple of months from now if they flip a switch for the playoffs I may start looking like an idiot…


  8. 7) MHJC
    In re Bynum – if he is going to be an All-Star level player, he would at least occasionally be having “monster” games.


  9. @ exhelodrvr — Is it fair to expect a guy to have a monster game when he’s consistently the third option? It’s a rhythm-driven game, and when you run up and down the floor without getting a pass four or five straight times, especially as a big, it’s not easy to get a roll going. Kobe and Pau are consistently the focal points, and rightly so. But Bynum can’t put up huge numbers when he only gets so many plays thrown his way, can he?

    I’m like many others who expect more from Bynum. But there is a caste system in the NBA and one’s ceiling is too often corresponding to their slot in the caste, meaning a No. 3 guy can’t be expected to put up No. 1 numbers when he’s getting a No. 3 share of the focus. Artest is proving that night in and night out. He’s been accustomed to being a first or second option elsewhere, and he can’t find the same rhythm when he’s relegated to the fourth or fifth option. It makes sense that he zones out; it takes a special mentality to subject yourself for the good of the team. Horry, Fox and Odom had that ability. Ron clearly doesn’t.

    I honestly believe Bynum will someday be a No. 1 or 2 player, and his production will go up accordingly. Whether that’s with the Lakers or elsewhere — and whether he becomes a No. 1 who wins games, as opposed to an Al Jefferson-like “I put up big numbers for mediocre to bad teams” player — remains to be seen.


  10. 5, by lost faith, do you mean you’re coming to realize that there’s a pretty good chance the Lakers aren’t going to win the championship this year?

    Because that’s true every year.


  11. I’ve spoken consistently about the Evolution of Drew and whether we’ve already witnessed the best of him. I was basically measuring him based on his production against contending teams, especially if they have Centers/Big Men that can matchup 2 him size wise (i.e. Duncan, Chandler, Howard … ) It’s understandable for him to get outplayed by Dwight (which he most definitely was), but when you’re playing Kwame to a standstill and producing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING against JJ Hickson, that’s where you really have to start evaluating the situation. Even if you’re the biggest supporter of Drew’s.


  12. Chris J,
    Yes – he could always be doing it rebounding and an defense, and on occasions getting 20-25 points on 9-10 shooting.

    Not all the time, but if he has that much potential, it would be showing through more often.


  13. Who thinks that it’s time for Kobe to let Pau become the focal point of the offense? are we seeing the end of the Laker dynasty after 3 straight trips to the finals? or will this team turn it all around come May and June like the Celtics did last year let’s not forget the Celtics were written off last year as to old just like our squad this year what do you guys think?


  14. I think the Celtics surprised many last year – including me – but obviously came up short in the end.

    As much as I love the Lakers and hate the Celtics, the latter are made of sterner stuff than our heroes. (The exception to that would be Kobe of course. He is a cyborg.)

    Therefore the Lakers are much less likely to pull off a feat similar to what the C’s did last year.


  15. #10,

    How about coming to the realization that instead of a 30% chance, there is a 0.05% chance? The point of the post was clear, I’m not sure what bringing up semantics accomplishes.