From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Once thought to have too many point guards, the Lakers suddenly could use at least one high-quality backup. They aren’t expected to add any to their holiday shopping list, despite announcing Monday that Steve Blake would require surgery to repair his torn abdominal muscle and miss a minimum of six to eight more weeks, the latest tumultuous turn in a season of upheaval. There are a few reasons the Lakers will probably go forward with Darius Morris and Chris Duhon, who started the season as third- and fourth-stringers but have become the starter and primary backup. Those reasons include that Steve Nash could return from a small fracture in his fibula in a week or so, the Lakers already have an NBA-high $100-million payroll and the list of free-agent point guards isn’t a particularly attractive one, with Delonte West, Mike Bibby and Jordan Farmar among the options. The Lakers had hoped Blake could return this month from the abdominal injury that has sidelined him since Nov. 12, but instead he is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday and may not play again before February.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol will not play Tuesday against the Houston Rockets because of tendinitis in both knees. “I just didn’t think he was running fluidly,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. D’Antoni said Gasol made the decision to rest after consulting with the coaching and training staff. There is no set timetable for how long Gasol will sit out. Antawn Jamison will start in Gasol’s place. Following Sunday’s loss to the Orlando Magic, Kobe Bryant was critical of Gasol, who watched the final minutes of the fourth quarter from the bench.
From Elliot Teaford, LA Daily News: The Lakers’ lack of offensive rhythm and defensive determination still troubled coach Mike D’Antoni one day after their loss to the Orlando Magic. He didn’t like their lack of energy or the way they seemed so overconfident upon taking the court. “We screwed up last night big-time,” D’Antoni said rather bluntly after Monday’s practice and before leaving with the team on a three-game trip to face the Houston Rockets, the New Orleans Hornets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. “We have to have more of an urgency to our game that we have not demonstrated yet,” he added. “It’s odd, every time we play a team that’s lower than us in the (standings), like Orlando and Sacramento, we don’t have the same energy we have against a Dallas or a Denver. “That’s something we’ve got to get over real quick. ” It hasn’t taken D’Antoni long – only seven games, in fact – to recognize what everyone around the NBA has known for years about the Lakers. “We’re not real fast as a team structurally,” he said. “That’s not going to change. I can’t come in here and make you faster. But if we play with the right amount of concentration and energy then we’re OK. We have to understand you can’t come out and play half speed. “Our half speed is like quarter speed. So far we’ve had trouble with young athletic teams.” Effort can make up for a good many of the Lakers’ troubles, D’Antoni said.
From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: Given how the Lakers went about their business last week, you would be forgiven if you thought the real Laker team showed up to blow Denver into oblivion and had incompetent doppelgangers stand in against Indiana and Orlando. Perhaps the opposite sentiment should apply, as the frequency at which the “good” team shows up seems to be determined by the alignment of the stars and seasons. Either way, it is clear that the team is having a tough time keeping in sufficient rhythm such that they execute consistently and crank out offensive performances — and defensive ones — commensurate with their talent level. A big part of the problem is the fact that the Lakers are playing with their third and fourth string point guards at the helm of an offensive that is supposed to be dictated by their actions. This is no longer the triangle or any other structured motion offense we have been accustomed to in the past years in which you can make things work through sheer execution. As with most other teams in the NBA, it comes down to the court vision and skill of your primary ballhandler and how he handles the flow of the offense. Near everything in Mike D’Antoni’s system goes off the initial pick-and-roll and the opportunities that are created once the ballhandler penetrates off the pick. It is no accident that lineups featuring Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard initiating the pick-and-roll while being surrounded by three other shooters have achieved the greatest success under the auspices of D’Antoni’s offense. Past Kobe, however, you have essentially no one who can come even remotely close to managing the system in the manner that D’Antoni requires. You may describe D’Antoni’s pining for Steve Nash and Steve Blake to return as excuses, but he is absolutely right to say that they are essential for what he wants to do on offense.
From Jabari Davis, LakersNation.com: After leading the “Play Pau Properly” charge for so long, it almost comes out as a natural defense mechanism whenever I hear the speculation of a Gasol for fill in the blank scenario being discussed. The fact is, Gasol isn’t responsible for not automatically morphing into a player with a skill set more suitable for the most recent offensive system. That said, at 8-9 (W/L) and struggling to maintain any level of consistency, the Los Angeles Lakers are a team searching for answers. Lakers’ management does not seem keen on the idea of waiting patiently while their $100 million investment takes time to figure things out. If anything, the firing of Mike Brown after just a 1-4 start (without the services of PG Steve Nash) proved just how dire the circumstances truly were. It comes as no surprise that a source close to Lakers’ management has confirmed an interest in New Orleans Hornets’ PF Ryan Anderson as “legitimate.” Anderson is in just the first year of a 4-year, $36 million deal, having agreed to a sign-and-trade to join the Hornets in the off-season. The source went on to state: