What matters is that the Lakers must start to take some pride in their game when it travels. What matters is that the Lakers need to stop being a different team on the road than they are at home. If the Lakers decide they’ll be aggressive, that they’ll attack the defense by moving the ball, that they’ll simply concentrate harder they’ll be the better team tonight. If their role players show the confidence in themselves that they do at home, if they take shots in rhythm, if they trust that they can perform to their abilities, the Lakers will be the better team tonight. But, if the Lakers play the same way they have in most of their other road games this season this game will be a pick ‘em.
The above is from the game preview for tonight’s game. And, for the first half, the Lakers showed all those qualities I hoped they would. The starting group played within themselves and showed that they could, in fact, execute the offense. The bench came in and showed the same. The team attacked inside, Kobe was efficient, while the bigs and the bench were off to very good starts. It was exactly the type of effort you’d want to see from a team that had an embarrassing loss the night before. At the half the Lakers were up by 15 and early in the 3rd quarter their lead would swell to 21.
Then, as the 3rd quarter went on, it all started change. The ball stopped moving on offense. Kobe, (seemingly) feeling a bit too good about his offense started to force some shots in (what looked to be) an attempt to bury the Wiz on his own. After Kobe was subbed out, the bench came in and began to systematically make mistakes. Reckless turnovers were committed when passes were forced. Bad shots were taken from the perimeter and the bigs started to force shots of their own after not seeing the ball for several consecutive possessions. Defensively, the team was just as bad as rotations were late (if made at all) and even when defenders were in position shots went uncontested. On the boards the Lakers were just as bad, allowing Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin to grab offensive rebounds for extra shots against said poor defense.
By the time the fourth quarter started, what was a 21 point lead was down to a single basket and the carnage that is Lakers’ road basketball continued. Kobe, looking to jumpstart the team started to shoot the team back into lead but couldn’t rediscover his form. Missed shots turned into Wizard open court chances that they’d convert. Momentum built for the home team and the Lakers staggered to try and hold on. A mini-run fueled by their big men and a couple of outside shots gave the Lakers back their lead but it was all for naught as they frustratingly didn’t stick with that approach.
Instead, it was more long jumpers, more misses, and haphazard defense that allowed the Wiz to take back their lead. Meanwhile anyone with a rooting interest in the Lakers pulled out their hair as what was hoped would be a bounce-back game became a rerun of last night’s effort against the Pistons only without the overtime.
So, the Lakers are now 0-2 on this 3 game roadie with losses against two of the worst teams in the league. Kobe’s lost his post all-star break form, the bigs aren’t staying involved through the end of games, and the non-big 3 showing that they’re more two-faced than Harvey Dent. All around, this is a losing formula that works just as well against good teams as it does bad. Before the game I open wondered what would win out tonight – the Lakers ability to play bad on the road or the Wizards’ ability to just be bad. Tonight, the Lakers were more worse than the Wizards. If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t want to know what is.