Lakers/Cavs: Rock Bottom? One Can Only Hope

Darius Soriano —  December 11, 2012

The Lakers visited the 4-17 Cavs and were roundly defeated. I’d write about the loss, and everything that went into making it so — the first half turnovers, the listless defense, the lack of attentiveness on offense, Kyrie’s brilliance, CJ Miles’ explosion, and how it all combined to dig a hole they could not dig out of — but I’m not in the mood to do that.

You see, as a Laker fan, I’m about at rock bottom. This team is struggling right now and it’s difficult to watch. Before every game I want to watch them play, but by the end I’m not enjoying myself. In this way, I’m pretty sure I have something in common with the actual team. The Lakers don’t look to be enjoying themselves right now. Losing will do that to you. Playing poorly will do that to you. Not having your full compliment of players and knowing you’re not as good as you could be, will do that to you.

This game, then, represents something of a gut check moment for this Laker team. Nash is not coming back soon. Gasol might, but that’s no guarantee either. No, this team only has itself to lean on right now and they must look in the mirror and figure out how to fix it. They must play harder and smarter on both ends of the floor. Energy and effort can mitigate their lack of secondary talent to a degree large enough to win some of these games. This much should be obvious considering it’s how every team they face is beating them right now.

Of course there are tactical things that can be done as well. Against the Cavs the Lakers got bogged down in isolation basketball, barely had any ball or player movement, and their offense suffered because of it. They turned the ball over too often and that put undue stress on their transition defense. In the half court, they continued to not rotate well. Their confusion in who should be where, and when, meant breakdowns all over the court that led to open shots for the Cavs.  There are tweaks to make that can help in these areas.

But for now, nothing will matter more than playing harder and smarter. Not when the talent isn’t all the way there to outclass opponents. Teams have confidence when facing the Lakers right now and the only way to cut through that is to be tougher, physically and mentally, than them. Just showing up won’t do it.

In the 2nd half of nearly every Laker loss they fight back like demons to make games respectable. The Lakers trailed by 17 against this Cavs team and lost by 6. The same thing happened against the Jazz. And the Thunder. This tells me the Lakers have the fight in them, but aren’t displaying it throughout the course of the entire game. This simply won’t do. Not now. Not ever, really, but that’s another topic for another day.

The model the Lakers are using, right now, is broken. More of the same will not get it done. This much has been proven. We can only hope that this is the bottom. And while the climb out will be difficult, it’s the only direction there’s left to go.

Darius Soriano

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70 responses to Lakers/Cavs: Rock Bottom? One Can Only Hope

  1. That about sums it up. The sad part is that this team looks defeated out there and it’s evident that they dont know how to play off each other on either end. It may be too little too late when the cavalry arrives.

  2. Id wait till after the 14th to say its truly rock bottom….

    I wonder what the team can do now to get better, I wonder if there are some avenues that have yet to be explored – bringing in a psychologist, team yoga sessions, meditation, hell maybe go on a wilderness retreat to build some sort of camaraderie, Id even settle for a drunken night out and the team picking up a fight or something.

    Because seeing this team play and hearing their post game comments its obvious they have absolutely no solutions, no plans and absolutely no idea on what to do

  3. Lots of revisionist history from commentators – and its clear they aren’t even watching the same game. Watching otehr games and they keep saying how Dwight needs to get more touches etc… It’s crystal clear watching Dwight he’s not anywhere near the skilled big man Pau is – or Amare.
    Feel bad for Mike D – he thought he was walking into a decent situation with a team ready to win, but there’s a lot of holes but no really apparent fixes given the roster that they have. And nothing the Fo can do quick either until Pau and Nash are healthy to see what they have and what assests need to go. Can’t blame Mike D’s system either – they’re not playing it whatsoever and having to patch something together w zero true post presence (Dwight is good for dunks, thats it – even Varaejoe has better range and doesn’t turn the ball over as much), and everyone else needs someone to create for them aside from kobe. they’re gonna have to gut out some really tough wins over the next week or so.

  4. We have a case of insanity here!! The Lakers led by MDA doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result!! Idiotic plain and simple!

  5. Glad I played tennis tonight instead of watching another embarrassing debacle. The funny thing is I recorded the game “just in case.”

  6. Year 9

    Shaq: 28.7 pts 12.7 reb 3.7 ast 2.8 blk 19 fga 57% 13 fta 51%

    Duncan: 18.6 pts 11 reb 3.2 ast 2 blk 14 fga 48% 6 fta 62%

    Dirk: 24.6 pts 8.9 reb 3.4 ast 1 blk 17 fga 50% 7 fta 90%

    Garnett: 24.2 pts 13.9 reb 5 ast 2.2 blk 19 fga 49% 5 fta 79%

    Hakeem: 26.1 pts 13 reb 3.5 ast 4.2 blk 19 fga 52% 7 fta 77%

    Kareem: 25.8 pts 12.9 reb 4.3 ast 3 blk 19 fga 55% 5 fta 78%

    Dwight: 18.4 pts 11.7 reb 1.9 ast 2.7 blk 11 fga 58% 10 fta 47%

    Dwight has to get on their level, dominate and have impact night to night like those guys. It’s not good enough what he’s doing and be proclaimed best big in the game. He’s shooting 58% and only taking 11 shots a game. Lakers need a 2 way franchise player. Dwight has to step up and be 1a or 1b not the sidekick espicially without Nash and Pau. Dwight has either plateaued or is content with the player he is which either would not be good for Lakers fans.

  7. None of Lakers current problems will change until Nash returns. Turnovers will stay high, role players will be inconsistent, defensive rotations will be spotty. One thing that can change is Dwight’s aggressiveness on offense and defense. That’s the only way this group will have a greater chance at winning is if Dwight shoulders some responsibility and decides to be great.

  8. I’m still holding onto the hope that Dwight’s back will heal and this won’t be the permanent Dwight we have to deal with. Otherwise, if Dwight is become dominant he needs to work on his free throws. It doesn’t have to be 77% but at least 60%. He also needs to work on his footwork as that will help him get easier buckets and less turnovers.

  9. Expecting Dwight Howard to take responsibility and turn this team around is like asking a dog to stop licking himself — not going to happen.

    To claim his 18.4 PPG is “star” level is insane. The guy has had almost no impact on any single game this year; he gets his points, but they’re not leading to any rhythm for himself or anyone else on the team because his post game is so limited, and he’s arguably the worst free throw shooter in the league. Anyone can get points on a very bad team. Hell, Tony Campbell averaged 20+ two seasons in a row for the Wolves back in the day,

    To be a star, you have to impact the game in your team’s favor. Howard has not done that, at either end of the floor.

    Pau needs to be on the box when he returns; let Howard roam, put in the garbage buckets, and focus on defense. That’s the only chance this roster has, and that’s a slim one at best. The way this team has meshed, it will be lucky to make the playoffs. God willing, Dwight then walks away next summer to become some other team’s albatross.

  10. Magic said it best today:
    1. This team is not built to run D’Antoni’s offense. Some version of Phil Jackson’s Offense is best.
    2. Pau needs to play center. He is the best center on offense they have. The game needs to go through Pau. Dwight needs to set screens and do the pick and role, keep moving so he can get dunks.
    3. The Lakers have the two best big men in the world. They need to use them. They need to play an inside game – just like when they had Shaq, just like when they had Pau the first two years.
    4. We want Phil. D’Antoni is ruining this team. Even Bernie Bickerstaff is better than D’Antoni. At least Bernie had them playing hard.

  11. Thinking all the way back to the Jerry West coached Lakers of the mid-70s, there are certainly been less talented teams, more weekly coached teams, but I can not remember a team that was painful to watch – as in, I am hurting as a Lakers fan.

    After watching the first half tonight, I couldn’t bring myself to watch the second. I just knew how it would end.

  12. Again no amount of analysis nor optimism could help this team. Just pray and hope the Divine Providence will intervene and change the outcome of the ball game.

    On the other hand, God will only help if they help themselves. If you have a player like Morris who is on fast break then suddenly collapsed at the last moment, is there any hope for this kind of player?

    There should be an insurance to return D’Antoni where he came from to save further embarrassment. I think Bernie Bickerstaff could right the ship at a minimum cost.

  13. Not sure what rock bottom is, but seeing guys launch threes and stand around is a new low.

    Certainly lower than stinker streaks back when that proverbial “switch” was the main culprit.

    I’d like to see Howard go alpha dog on this team and take over.

  14. I am angry. This is a Legendary franchise, and this season is thus far one of the most disappointing on record. During the pre-season, people (including me) compared this team to 2004, because we “loaded” up with free agent signings. How does that comparison look now? We are playing far below our expectations. We are not putting in 48 minutes of effort. We are allowing teams with inferior talent to trounce us. Our offensive and defensive systems are in disarray. There needs to be accountability for this. I might be single minded – but I have seen nothing to change that mindset. Last year was a lack of talent (clearly), and this year is a lack of systems, cohesiveness, desire, and enthusiasm (added together = coaching). There is still time to pull this together, but we need a new mindset and that must start immediately.

  15. Magic is a failed coach who went 5-11 and Kurt Rambis is the bitter poster child for forcing a system on personel that don’t fit – between 09-11 he won a total of 32 games trying to use some version of “PHil Jacksons offense”. Neither of these two are qualified to give advice on other coaches. Magic in particular as minority owner shouldn’t be stepping up to rip this team every second about DAntonis system when he knows damn well they aren’t using it, nor have all their players. Really losing respect for that guy.

    Enough w the “we want phil” comments – is he going to play point guard, roam the middle like pre injury dwight did, or stop all the mindless turnovers from having bench players being overplayed? Because right now the main issue is clearly becoming the players on the court, not the man on the bench. This can’t be fixed from the sidelines – unless the FO is able to upgrade somehow.

  16. Robert

    They would have to go 41 and 19 to win 50 which get them 6 or 7 seed. Do you really, honestly feel this is possible? If so do you see them getting out of tbe 1st round with this current roster.

  17. Ko: Like you – I have my doubts, but I am not giving up. I truly believe that this roster is significantly better than it is performing. Kobe is still one of the best in the league, and DH will be the most sought after FA this off season (even at 80%). When you start off with that – you can’t be this bad. That is unless you have a case where the whole is less than the sum of the parts – which is what we have.

  18. @ko/Robert – if this team had Nash and Pau – winning 2 out of every 3 games is pretty doable just on offense alone – that would get them into the playoffs. They would be able to offensively overpower enough teams to get to 50 wins still – or possibly more with a couple streaks. Does Nash solve the defensive issues that need to be addressed for this team – not at all – but if they can be an offensive juggernaut it at least buys time for the defense to turnaround.

    If Dwight isn’t the same player and isn’t going to get back there then i think D”Antoni will need to bring in a defensive specialist – not sure who that would be though. I know McMillans name gets tossed around but his teams in portland kept pace down which led to low scoring games – not necessarily great defensive teams (Hollinger did a piece on it – sorta the same as kobe – everyone thinks he’s great defensively but maybe not really).

    Chin up boys – this will break soon one way or another. Absolute worst case is that Lakers don’t make it and they don’t resign Dwight – which means between loosing dwight and having the expiring contracts of Pau/kobe, the Lakers will have a tonne of cap room and the ability to reload completely fresh and make a big run at lebron et al soon.

  19. Last season, the Lakers had a solid record and played a close series against the Thunder. They did this by playing to their strengths and recognizing their weaknesses. They were a slow team with four post players.

    It’s pretty obvious that this current roster needs to slow down the pace and shoot less threes to limit transition buckets. Transition defense is this team’s Achilles heel, and DAntoni’s running, three point happy system exposes the team’s biggest weakness. A coach should try to hide this team’s lack of speed….not further expose it.

    Magic made a great point…..DAntoni needs to change his system to better suit this roster, or the team has to make trades to fit his system……..but if DAntoni is forced to change his system, something he has never done, what was the point of hiring him to begin with? Sigh….

  20. I’ve been lurking around the site for quite some time. I love this site. Thanks to Darius and company for being so even handed in your approach.

    My expectations are definitely lowered to say the least, but what really bothered me today was when D’Antoni was being interviewed after the game and a reporter asked something along the lines of how are they preparing themselves defensively, and D’Antoni got short with the reporter and then mentioned that they spent 30 minutes on defense today. 30 minutes!! Really?

    Get ready for a loooong season guys…

  21. Ron1ndon,
    First off, thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. Second, because today was a game day they only practice for about an hour. It’s a “shoot around” to go over stuff specifically for this game. So, 30 minutes is actually about half the session or so.

  22. I might be single minded

    ___

    Yes, you are, IMO because you are still mad about Phil. Simply put, other than Kobe and Howard, the other guys stink. Who is the third best player on the team they are putting out there right now? Hill? Jamison? MWP? How many teams would Duhon, Hill, and MWP all start for? Look at the lines tonight of everybody other than Kobe and Howard; that tells you all you need to know. The Lakers needed four stars for this to work; they have 1.75.

    This is not to say that D’Antoni is doing a good job; he isn’t. He has not done what I expected him to do, which was to adjust some aspects of his system to the personnel. Duhon would have been a passable backup four years ago in the Triangle; as a starter in this system in 2012–a PG-driven system–he is overmatched. Morris probably shouldn’t be in the NBA. The Lakers are playing waiver-level talent at the most important position in their offensive system. No matter how good Kobe is, that isn’t going to work.

    One problem they have is a “negative synergy” among their weaknesses. They turn the ball over a lot, which puts the other team in trasnsition a lot, which exposes how slow they are. They give up too much dribble penetration, which means guys need to help, rotate, and switch, which, again, exposes how slow they are. They take a lot of 3s now, and they are hitting more of them, but long rebounds off 3s…you get the idea.

    I know how much you love Kobe and how badly you wanted Howard in a Lakers uniform, but basketball teams are 8 or 9 guys, not 2.

  23. That reporter was poking the bear so to speak and knew he’d get a reaction. Apparently him and PJ didn’t exactly get along well either.

  24. Thanks for that Darius. You guys always put things in perspective. But they should have spent the whole hour, ha!

    Agreed Jerke, he was being a douche.

  25. PG: So I guess Derek Fisher is indeed the key difference between last year’s team and this year’s team. Amazingingly enough we could have corrected that mistake until very recently.

  26. The Mike D’Antoni Experiment IS OVER. He needs to resign.

    Rudy Tomjanovich in 2004 took over for Phil Jackson after Jackson lead the Lakers to 3 championships. He was a successful coach for the Houton Rockets but he realized he was OVER HIS HEAD in coaching the Lakers. He thus resigned. This allowed the Lakers to rehire Phil Jackson. Jacskon then coached the Lakers to 2 more championships.

    Mike D’Antoni can do the same as Rudy Tomjanovich. Resign.

    He needs to face the fact that he does not know how to coach the Lakers as they are assembled. He does not know how to coach a team that cannot run. He does not know how to utilize the two best post big men in the world in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. He does not know how to utilize Pau Gasol – the better and more multitalented offensive center of the two. He does not know how to coach defense.

    Mike D’Antoni is ruining the Lakers. Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak are ruining the Lakers with their egos.

    As Magic Johnson said: Bring Back Phil Jackson. Phi is the best coach for this Lakers team as assembled.

    Phil will even extend Steve Nash’s career – Steve Nash can be the sharpshooter that Steve Kerr was for the Chicago Bulls, helping them to 3-straight NBA championships.

    And as a big man himself, Phil knows how to use Howard and Pau together.

  27. In 2003, we were 11-19 to start the season, with half of our superstars sitting out early – and even after Shaq returned. We ended up 50-32 after a late season run boosted heavily by Kobe’s 40-point streak, and were a Horry three-pointer away from pushing the eventual champions to elimination.

  28. D’antoni is adjusting his system he’s giving kobe iso’s and post ups and dwight is getting the ball down low. Difference is one guy is playing like he cares. Dwight was brought here because we thought he can be the next lakers great center. He’s not playing like it and doesn’t seem to know the responsibility he has to shoulder a heavy load every night. With pau and nash out he should recognize he has to caarry a even heavier load but he doesn’t. Kobe does and is playing extra hard making up for the absence of nash. Dwight is playing as if someone else should fill pau’s void instead of him. Dwight has to step up.

  29. Simmers has been around for 20 years. His thing is to try to get people mad because that is the tenure of his articles in the Times. Used to call Frank MCcort every name in the book.

    Thing is he is usually right on and his question was one we all have been asking. Where is the D. glad someone had the guts to ask the question. Mike D is over his head there. TJ will be hammering him in the press from now on. Not smart Mike. Can’t win that one Mikey, Phi
    l was smart enough to know it was all tongue and cheek. No wonder this team plays so dumb.

  30. PG: So I guess Derek Fisher is indeed the key difference between last year’s team and this year’s team.

    That team wasn’t using the SSOL system–as LT Mitchell pointed out. Imagine Fisher running this system. Also, one more time: the Lakers were 36-30 in PYTH last year; they were lucky to get the third seed, and were somewhat fortunate to beat Denver.

    And, you are forgetting that Sessions was the primary PG down the stretch; Fisher wasn’t even on the team after the deadline. Sessions is better than either Duhon or Morris and would actually be a good backup for an SSOL team, and would be an OK guy to cover for Nash’s injury. As I said in preseason, failing to upgrade the backup 1 spot was a huge gamble, and they are paying the price.

    MDA can be called out on failing to adjust; that part is right. As I said, he is not IMO doing a good job. But Kobe and Howard are not quite as good as you think they are, and the rest of the roster is worse than you thought it was. The evidence on those issues is very clear.

  31. Tonight the Lakers let unexpected players beat them. CJ Miles and Gee combined for 45 points. We knew Irving and Andy V were threats, but the Lakers allowed two marginal players to flourish.

    Combine that with the turnovers and the missed free throws and you get another disappointing loss. Poor defense and poor offensive execution have this team stuck in mud.

    I feel Darius’ pain. I feel the pain of Laker Nation. I know it’s silly, but these losses are affecting my morale and well being. I expect that the team feels like spit. Something has got to give.

  32. This make me miss that second coach haha, our almost undefeated coach.

  33. Everyone is deflecting onto coaching and what can be done, but from my POV the team only has one of its 4 stars at full strength and that is Kobe, and even he is not what he was on the defensive side of the ball, even though he is having a stellar offensive season. So the complaints about rosters and coaching have to take a back seat, if a secondary problem is that the team does not yet know how to work in rhythm together then more change is only going to be negative. The largest problem is that Dwight is still a step slow from his injury – at full strength he is the second best player in the league but he is obviously not there. Secondarily, the team does not know how to play with Dwight on the defensive side of the ball – so many opposition baskets involve Dwight not being on the same page as everyone else (or vice versa – he is actually used to an elite defensive system) about the rotations. Very difficult to implement a system in-season, a lot of the commentary on coaching seems to think that it is just a question of finding the right system and getting the players to do it, but the timing and familiarity takes time. I don’t think that Brown was a better coach than MDA but I do think it was stupid firing him after five games – if anyone needs to be replaced it might be the ownership. I think Lakers fans convinced themselves that talent alone would do it, but we saw in Miami a lot of things need to come together, health being one of the most important ones. My last thought is that MWP is not at his best and his fit with MDA seems off. This is not a talent problem but just that boring coaching problem of getting everyone on the same page about what is happening. Personally I think that if Nash/Gasol get back then things will come together, but if not then the lack of fit becomes more obvious. Anyway as Darius says hard times to watch indeed.

  34. Lots of talk regarding Delonte West joining the team, he is a FA. I guess it’s possible with Blake being out and Morris not good enough to be starting or coming of the bench.

    The sad thing in all this is if this team doesn’t get itself together, there’s literally nothing that can be done. Hardly any flexibility with this team, what you see is what you get till everyone (minus D12 hopefully) comes of the books.

    The only slimmer of hope I have left in me is Gasol & Nash rejuvenating this lot.

  35. nice summary..i think if you go back at the history of the championship Laker team, they started the play with the big guy. maybe interchange the position of Pau with Howard let see it from there..laker fans are tired of losing, they want wins. this is a legendary franchise, the gold standard of NBA basketball..

  36. I saw my first Laker game on November 3rd, 1963. Wilt Chamberlain scored 72 in a losing effort for the Warriors, and Elgin Baylor proved to me that men can fly. I was 13 and I was hooked. There have been a lot of highs and a few lows since then, but I don’t recall ever being this discouraged by a Laker team.

    Tonight’s Lowlights for me included 18 turnovers, watching Howard pull the ball to his chest and WAIT for the triple-team to arrive to strip the ball over and over again, the inability to finish on breaks, and another unforgivably poor freethrow shooting performance from the new “superstar”.

    I’ve always been comfortable with change, and although I don’t like it much, I guess I can deal with the fact that The Lake Show is descending and The Blake Show is ascending. The better team is across the hall. They’re a lot more fun to watch, and the present iteration of “Showtime” would be hard-pressed to beat the Clipper bench. Which BTW, includes 3 former Lakers, any of whom could really help this team. Please tell me, seriously, who did Matt Barnes piss off so badly that NO effort was made to resign him?

    At halftime during the Clipper game, Mike told Mike that he’d never seen an uglier half of basketball. Guess he didn’t see the first half of Lakers v. Cavs. 10 minutes in, my wife headed for the bedroom saying, “I don’t see how you can watch this.” She was right. The Mindy Project would have been better.

    I don’t see how they can repair this debacle in time to salvage the season. Oh, they’ll come back, but not this year and not with this leadership. As a long-life life-long fan, I’m truly sad.

  37. Dwight Howard’s highest scoring average in a season is 22.9ppg. That was when the entire offense ran thru him & his athleticism was at it’s Lebronesque peak.

    So if your all expecting Dwight Howard to be 30 point scorer or post Shaq type numbers, it ain’t happening. He’s the not “built” that way, the same way Kobe will never average 10 assists a game.

  38. Im just about had it with this team, im tired of defending them im tired of being embarrased nightly by losing to lottery bound teams a team with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant losing to the Cavs, seriously?i dont care Nash and Gasol are out, this is unaceptable period, Kobe is doing his thing better than recent years and the rest of the team is just going thru the motions 15-47? Really, how many turnovers?well Kobe and Dwight have 9 of them so i put that on them, i never thought in a million years that Dwight had such butterfingers he has no heart, next MSG and i hope we get blow out of the building. The defense is beyond embarrasing that Varejao dunk down the stretch totally alone there wasnt a Laker 5 feet around. I actually broke my remote control in disgust, D anthony needs to stop running his ” system” and just let them play like Bernie did, i know we are injurerd and all that but there is no excuses to be losing to teams like the Jazz and the freaking Cavs i dont want to mention the other scrub teams that we had lost to because i will smash this phone against the wall. Im embarrased demolarized and furious beyond belief, now that i vented lets try to get some work done.

  39. people expect to much from this team…instead of surrounding kobe with high energy players they surrounding him with pouters….if they dont get shots..they dont play hard…its that simple

    they should flip howard for noah or verejao…sign delonte west…talk kobe into moving to small forward

    or send dwight to jersey for wallace, humphries and a throw in

  40. Uh the only reason Varejao is thriving is because the Cavs are a horrible team. Like i said they need to throw any ” system” out of the window and just let them play, you dont need a 4 inch thick playbook to run rhis team, and Delonte? Really? We have our resident nutjob on the team we dont need 2.

  41. Two perplexing things since the beginning of the season are the turnovers and FT shooting. Better performance in both areas and the Lakers have a few more wins.

    But, that doesn’t address the biggest issue, as I see it. Who is this team? There’s no real identity on defense or offense, no clear idea of what they are trying to do every game. Many have pointed out they don’t have the personnel for the classic D’Antoni system (which is why the hire surprised me), but do they have the personnel to even run parts of it? And, if they do, then what defensive approach do they take? Getting beat on transition defense is partly caused by turnovers, poor shooting, etc. How can that be the Lakers offensive approach if the defense is not able to stop run outs?

    I just don’t think anyone involved with the team really knows or believes what the best approach is, given this roster. And, more roster moves feels like flailing at this point. Will any changes really make a difference? I hope so, since that seems to be the consensus opinion. I just wish Mike could devise a system more suited to who he has now.

  42. Pau and Nash will help obviously coming back, but these guys are not playing for D’Antoni at the moment but they clearly need to take some personal pride as well. Dwight should Demand The Damn Ball but I’m not sure if he’s wired like that. D’Antoni really doesn’t have them playing any D either and just seems not to have any idea how to use his players. A lot of blame to go around. I still think the Lakers will get it together. MWP, Pau, Kobe, and Dwight, and Nash are too good and Jamison and Meeks are looking fine. Talent will win out.

  43. I think the Lakers have been struggling since Jim Buss broke the championship core, and with it the spirit the team had.

    For one, a lot of people are underestimating how taxing can be mentally to lose the calm demeanor and wisdom of a father figure like Jackson’s.

    Then we lost Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol was nearly traded, then Derek Fisher was gone for Sessions, who also left. Nobody who’s replaced those guys has produced as expected, and whoever’s left is demoralized by losing friends and having to deal with a clearly less inspiring coach, Mike Brown.

    And for a split second, everything looks inspiring again, we get a lot of help during the summer, we get rid of Brown and everyone claims for Jackson to come back. Remember Jackson is in touch with Pau and Kobe, the important remains of the championship core along with Metta. The top leaders of the game are expecting Jackson back, expect this to happen. And then the Lakers head office embarrasses everyone with the D’Antoni ninja hire fiasco. How embarrassing was that moment for everyone? A lot, including for the players. “We never thought he would accept”. It’s either a lame excuse, a stupid decision by what’s supposed to be world-class professional sports team management, or a straight-up lie.

    And now the Lakers are mentally dinged, stuck with a shortened bench, injured starting players, and a new coach who’s obviously out of coaching shape, with a coaching system that does not fit the players, and run by a coach that is really not that good, and known only for his relative success when he had one of the best point guards in the history of basketball running the show for him. And the players know and feel this.

    So that’s why I think this is not working. The team’s feeling defeated in its spirit, and management and coaches have nothing to cure that. Either they manage to find it on their own, or we get new management and/or coaching, or the season’s already over.

  44. I don’t recall enough about Dwight’s Orlando years so does anyone know if he’s had a rep for having such bad hands in the past? I expected him to be slow to reach form and maybe never reach past form but the Kwame level of handles thus far is fairly daunting. No fan of MD’A historically. No choice but to wait and have him prove me wrong about his abilities to adjust.

  45. It’s amazing, just about EVERY Laker fan wanted Dwight, now so many are being critical of his game. If many of you believe he’ll never be the “main guy” in Laker land, you may get your wish. Remember, he can walk at the end of the season. How interesting will that be if he leaves and Philly doesn’t offer Bynum a contract? The Lakers will have a huge hole in the middle while Bynum & D-12 are free agents, lol, you can’t make this stuff up.

  46. I think kobe is a transcendent talent, and a great offensive weapon. But he is far from a good leader. He states he leads by example, and this summer he stated clearly, ” this is MY team”

    And he’s right. this team has taken on his personality, for better or for worse. they’re ok when winning (not very often) but when losing, they’re temperamental, and pointing the fingers at someone else. it’s very interesting to me that carmelo has always been killed for not playing defense, but kobe has not been called out even though he’s been absolutely awful for the past 3 or 4 years. People complain about defense, well it’s hard to play good defense when the leader of your team is the biggest offender at leaving his man open, not making rotations, and arguing calls at one end and pouting while transition buckets are going the other way. But the media for the most part, and most kobe apologists give him a pass for that. It’s been an absolute joke that he’s made the nba all defensive team the last few years.

    On the offensive end, it’s always the chicken and the egg, is kobe shooting too much and not letting people get into a rhythm or is he shooting to try to get us back into the game. It’s a complicated question, and the answer is different from game to game, but what is consistent is that he definitely kills ball movement, you can see as players get used to his habits, they stop looking for passes they know will never come. a lot of turnovers are because people really don’t expect him to pass the ball, and they’re slower to make cuts or move away from the ball because the offense is essentially iso-kobe, and they don’t want to bring their defender into his area. this also leads to poor rebounding opportunities on a lot of possessions, despite the idea of a kobe assist.

    The team has enough talent to win, but allowing kobe to revert to his baseline of volume shot taking and not holding him responsible for the many many defensive breakdowns is, i think leading to bad chemistry in the lockerroom. I know darius is going to say that’s total speculation, and it is, but the body language during and after games looks pretty bad. Until kobe realizes he needs to put the team first, and be just as accountable for defensive breakdowns, this team will continue to flounder. in the past, other calmer voices helped drive the team forward: see fisher, derek or jackson, phil. I was hoping nash could take on that role here, and wave kobe off but he’s been hurt, so the only voice that the team is hearing is kobe ranting and raving, but never coming out and saying that he’s a big part of the problem.

    Forgive the comparison, but he’s starting to feel like allen iverson a bit, with how much he dominates the offense, and this team is not filled with scrubs who are content to simply play good d, and rebound and pass the ball back to their superstar. Therein lies the problem. It’s time for kobe to really show he’s dedicated to winning, not just winning in his way by shooting until there are no more bullets left in the chamber. if he shows he is committed to playing d, i think this team can still win a championship. but it feels less likely every passing game.

  47. Mike Antoni exposed.

    Yes, that’s what happens when you come to the Lakers; you get exposed. The real “you” is there, wide open, for everyone to see…

    This coach had success in the past but only when he had the “right” players. He’s incapable to do a single in-game adjustment. One.

    Dwight is a different case. He had no idea that the oponent can actualy grab your arms and strip the ball up if you wear P&G. Yes Dwight, this is how it is here. You get no calls. It’s the hard way. Stern and the refs are giving him the worst time of his life. Just look at Kobe and what he needs to do to get a bucket. That’s what we, fans, are expecting Dwight to do; fight REALLY hard. But he just want to “win”. Like a 7′ LBJ. He should tattoo “The Next One” on his back and go to Miami.

    But Let’s be fair. Before the foul-free zone was established late in the 2nd, the Lakers played without heart and energy, so let’s blame this one first, right?

  48. darius: i get grouchy when i don’t get enough sleep too….or was it that laker game we saw last night that set it off?

    just when we thought laker front office put together a renoir, we get a picasso. or is it still too early to make that comparison?
    when i was young and foolish i tried to piece together two jigsaw puzzles bottom side up; no picture to envision; just a bunch of mismatched parts and yet i was able to accomplish the improbable based on sizes and how the pieces fit together. so what did i do when i turned over the two jigsaw puzzles? i spray painted them white and glued over a picture of the championship laker teams of the 80’s. sitting in a box somewhere in my garage. e-bay anyone?

    obviously my overdeveloped imagination, as my future wifey likes to say, allows me to want to poke fun at the lakers every now and then. don’t get me wrong, i’ve been a laker fan since the short shorts were in vogue but what’s wrong with poking fun after laker losses to get the burden of anger off the mind and the hurt out from under our hollow muscle we call the heart?

    that’s my rant and now on to gotham for friday is another day.

    Go Lakers

  49. @hale – I’m w you, he can’t blame the other guy for such bad hands. I didn’t realize he was quite so limited offensively and how badly he needs a good pg to set him up – but never knew that he was this turnover prone. And they’re ugly tos from getting stripped, poked from behind etc… Stuff he should easily be able to avoid or cut in half. I know it would be great to play inside out but Howard postups are painful to watch – shaq is somewhere quietly smiling. And MDA wasn’t far wrong saying postup isos are the most inefficient play, certainly is w Dwight. For all Pau’s whining – this should at least boost his ego seeing how much his post pgame and passing are needed on this team.

    Delonte west would be a decent pickup – has range and can defend. Don’t know if he can run pnr but he won’t be worse than anyone else. FO’s prob is that they have to cut someone when they were hoping to trade one of the backup pgs to make roster space. West can only be signed for vet prorrated min by Lakers – but that counts against cap as well. Do they cut Duhon and eat 3.5 million plus pay delonte – or cut Morris, who is cheaper but they then lose the only youth they really have on the team for a 6 month rental.

    Delonte is a bit of a nutjob – but he’s bounced back after making mistakes – and this team in Kobe and Nash does have the leaders to work w him and keep him in line. He pretty much is the only real option.

  50. BigCity,
    These fans wanted pre back surgery Dwight. they couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact we were going to get post back surgery Dwight. The numbers he is putting up at 70 percent shows you how great he was at 100 percent. I hope NBA fans get to see that again. To see supernatural athletes like Dwight and Rose suffer career altering injuries is just such a sad thing. We all get robbed.

  51. I wonder how Kobe feels about the fact that the majority of fans and mainstream media are stating that it’ll take Nash to come back in order to save his – Kobe’s – team?

  52. Hey Magic Johnson. Pau Gasol isn’t being used any differently now than he was a year ago under Brown. And he was equally ineffective then. It just took people forever to realize that he’s not a power forward and never has been. There are plenty of teams he can help. Just not the Lakers anymore.

    Things are never as good or as bad as they seem.

    The team is predictably inconsistent. Stop turning the ball over and make a few more free throws and the wins and losses would be reversed right now.

    A healthy Steve Nash distributing the ball WILL make a world’s difference with the turnover problem alone.

    Way too much being made of the team’s lack of athleticism. No opponent is going to run them into the ground if they’re too busy taking the ball out of the bottom of the basket all the time.

    If you slow the thing down too much like Earvin suggests, you get a repeat of last year. The team wastes 20 seconds on the shot clock and then Kobe takes a desperate shot against a double team. No thank you very much.

    The Lakers did just fine setting win loss records back in the early seventies with an old team featuring Wilt and West beyond their primes. They were neither fast nor particularly athletic. The Boston Celtics of the 80’s were anything but a fast, athletic team.

    But those teams didn’t turn the ball over 20 times a game or average 50% from the free throw line either.

    I think the bench will sort itself out once the main unit establishes some sort of productive, consistent identity for itself.

  53. @ aka – that’s it in a nutshell. Great post!

  54. rr is right. This team currently has between one and two stars, a bunch of role players better suited for the bench in starting roles, and guys barely belonging in the league getting important minutes off the bench. It doesn’t mean they should lose every game, but a team with 8 average guys will likely beat a team with one superstar, one above average guy, and six below average players. Why? Because it’s easy to neutralize one star.

    There are a couple of themes for opposing teams: (i) let Kobe get a lot of shots and points, and (ii) run at the Lakers at every opportunity.

    This recipe clearly works, as evidenced by the fact that Kobe scoring 30+ points pretty much guarantees a Laker loss (1-10). Moreover, this recipe is easy to follow because it requires virtually no double-teaming of Kobe, freeing up defenders to just swarm Dwight whenever he gets the ball.

    It’s clear that Dwight of 2012 is not pre-surgery Dwight (at least not yet). However, even a fully healthy DH would struggle playing with his current teammates. One guy (who doesn’t get doubled, by design) shoots A LOT, and three others are barely guarded at all because the can’t shoot. With or without Pau clogging up the middle, Howard will never be the Orlando version if he isn’t surrounded by guys who can take and make shots.

    Presumably, this is part of what D’Antoni is relying on when he constantly refers to things getting better when Nash returns. Last night, Laker PGs scored 2 points, with 3 assists. This is D-league level PG play, and probably the worst in the entire league. Nash will undoubtedly improve this production dramatically, which isn’t about points, but about increasing the number of scoring threats (which improves floor spacing). This, in turn, will likely make things easier for Dwight. Will it solve all the problems? Not by a long shot. But it should help, and improvement on offense may well lead to better effort on defense (and fewer transition baskets for opponents), which should make the Lakers a better team.

    But I still have no idea how to properly integrate Pau into this offense, and anyone who claims to is just guessing, because there is no precedent for Pau playing consistently well as a power forward….

  55. @cdave – well put. As you said things aren’t as bad as they seem. MDA isn’t and can’t run his system so he’s having to live with isos from Kobe and poor postups from Dwight. What else do people really expect him to do? Run the triangle – yeah that will work. Magic is such a wonderful coach w great record – would love to see what system he would devise to fit the curent roster as it stands. As far as running and speed, again MDA’s system is about tempo and pace and energy – which is a lot less physically taxing than bump and grind throw it down low every possesion. This team hung 133 on denver which is a much faster/athletic team and bombed Dallas – while not having Nash, that doesn’t happen by accident.

    And we still have two starters out who are top 5-10 at their positions when healthy. Sum is greater than the parts – just all the parts need to be in place.

    @tra – interesting point, first kobe was concentrated on being a bit of a facilitator w Nash out and while his to’s were high at least the team was involved – but ever since his defense has been called into question he’s certainly slipped into iso-kobe mode. He respects Nash too much to hold it personally but yeah it prob kills him that he can’t fix this single handedly.

  56. Nice summary Darius –
    Agree with LT mitchell and TC both –
    Magic´s on the $ `bout Gasol –
    Give Bernie The Head Coaching Position Back!
    MD´A né `no D? what? me worry?´ could be given an “offensive specialist assistant post, par excellence´´ (when Steve Nash is his PG and doesn´t happen to be injured & while stubbornly continuing to implement the ¨we´ll-just-score-more-than-the-other-team strategy)
    sorry Mike…er, coach, just venting a bit…

  57. @Tra,

    If Nash can turn this thing around, then he should get his 3rd MVP.

    @aka,

    Spot on. Especially the part about players who stop moving because “Kobe has that look in his eyes.” Watching Kobe shoot repetitively (even if he’s making them) gets old quick. Because you know if the trend doesn’t change the outcome is a forgone conclusion. After one quarter Kobe had 12 of the Lakers 23 points. And they were still down 6 to the lowly Cavs. That told me where the game was going. And sure enough, they lost.

    If the ball doesn’t move the Lakers will lose. Period.

  58. @funky – i think Pau will be way more effective when he’s healthy – some of the issue was he wasn’t being aggressive enough himself – he passed up a lot of opportunities to get closer shots or drive/move in. Hollinger or Synergy did a piece about how Pau looks so bad because he’s missing all his short range shots that he would usually make (he was shooting something like 28% percent inside of 5-6 feet or something like that) so i think the burden is 50/50 to make it work. They’ll need to play Pau more down low and i think D’Antoni knows that as Dwight is useless on postups right now – but at the very least having Pau facilitate from the high post/free throw line at least gets the ball out of Kobe’s hands and gets some off the ball movement going. Thats where Pau’s real value is – plus w him on the flr teams can’t double Howard willy nilly. i’m not pretending to say its that simple, but it can be done. Simply being more talented can win you a lot of games – unfortuntely nearly all of the Lakers creative talent that would enable other guys to play better is sitting on the bench.

    Again – hate to repeat it – bag on D’Antoni all you want, but fact is he’s had no training camp, precious little actual practice time with this team, no starting pg or intended backup, a defensive center who is no where near the force he was in Orlando pre injury, and no Pau Gasol to take load off Howard and facilitate. And now the bench is clearly being exposed having to play too many mins as a result. Changing coaches does nothing right now (at least Magic was right about that) and ignoring that context is ridiculous.

    And please stop saying its his system because its not. Kevin_ rightly pointed it out as they’re running iso heavy for Kobe and Dwight. MDA hasn’t implemented it and they’re not playing it at all and can’t until they have Gasol and Nash back – which is who D’Antoni believed he would get to coach when he signed on – not just Kobe, a turnover prone center, and a bunch of bench players. Defense you can rag on but he has the assistant who designed and implemented the system in Orlando around howard with worse defensive players – so it can’t be all on the coach.

    @jameskatt – as for the suggestion above to bring PJ back and he will extend Steve Nashes career by turning him into Steve Kerr – seriously dude?

  59. Tra, aka, T Rogers, Jerke-

    So everyone not named Kobe is 15-47 and he needs to shoot less and move the ball for more shots? When we blew out Dallas and the Nuggets it was because players were *making* their wide open shots! I said as much then while it was happening. This team needs its players to make their shots. Nash might cut down on the turnovers which will limit the opposition to less fast break opportunities, but that doesn’t change the fact that other players are simply missing wide open shots. Jamison and Meeks were 2-10 on 3 pointers last night. How did they shoot in the Dallas win? If you want to blame Kobe for something, then point out his poor defense. (which was fairly decent last night) His shooting this year is not the problem because no one else can hit anything. When they *do* hit shots take a look at his assists. For the most part, it’s not that he doesn’t pass to other players, it’s that they either make them or miss them.

  60. If I have an overarching concern, it’s that the profile of this team won’t change until number 24 decides to call it a career.

    I mean, in the past two years we’ve seen the FO drastically change the make-up of the team from a personnel overhaul to the coaching staff replacements and strangely enough it still functions like the team that was swept out of the playoffs by Dallas three seasons ago.

    The one constantly repeatable script night in and night out, is watching Kobe grow impatient with the team’s performance, tries to take the whole thing on his back which he sometimes could pull-off in his prime but can’t do it any longer. Then the rest of the team predictably goes into a shell and the fate of the game is sealed.

    Then we fans repeatedly argue over who’s to blame. But we’re running out of dead horses here.

    Phil couldn’t do anything about this in his last year here. Mike Brown wasn’t the answer. Now D’Antoni. We’ve changed out the the whole supporting cast save Pau and Meta.

    We’re on our second go ’round with a point guard recycle. One all star center exchanged for another. We’ve almost completely revamped our bench.

    The FO has done practically everything imaginable to address the shortcomings of the cast surrounding number 24.

    From where I sit, if Nash’s return doesn’t make a demonstrative difference in the nightly script this team falls into , the only explanation left is the proverbial elephant in the room.

    It may just come down to this being more or less the nature of things, until number 24 hangs ‘em up. I can live with that.

    But I’m through blaming the FO for any of it.

  61. Reasoned, even take by Rick Bucher:

    “For those wondering why the Lakers’ coaching change has had no impact on the team’s fortunes, one big reason is,

    according to sources, that an ill Dr. Jerry Buss ordered the firing, posthaste, from his hospital bed, without concern about who might replace him. The move, hasty and unplanned as it might be, was apparently supported by voices outside the organization who thought it would open the door for Phil Jackson to return. But no one in the front office intended to move on Brown that quickly and, thus, no succession plan was in place. They were in full scramble mode. Teams usually consider their team’s health and the schedule and make a coaching change at optimal times — lots of winnable home games, lots of practice time, coinciding with a star returning to the floor — to make the change look like it provided a solution and aid in getting the players to buy into the new system. Instead, the Lakers made the move at the worst time. Interim Bernie Bickerstaff got the benefit of an easy homestand (4 games in 8 days), whereas the Lakers have not had more than one day between games at home since Mike D’Antoni took to the bench and won’t until after they return from the current trip next week. Steve Nash has yet to play since D’Antoni came on board and Pau Gasol, already dinged up, limped through seven games before shutting it down. When I look at the circumstances, the Lakers’ problems aren’t about D’Antoni’s system or Pau not playing in the post or Jim Buss not wanting to re-hire Phil. This is about oversized expectations not being instantly met and an ill-timed panic move that was supposed to magically make everything better. Panic moves rarely do.”

  62. KenOak,

    If guys are missing shots you keep passing them the ball. Maybe they will start making them. Maybe they won’t. But the team’s chances with that approach have to be better than their success rate with the Kobe solo approach. At the very least it keeps them involved. Who knows? It may even foster a degree of consistency out of the role players. They will never come along if they are frozen out whenever they have a dry spell.

  63. Guarantee that the team is not going to win a title with Kobe dominating the offense as much as he is. He is going to need to help the coaching staff and the rest of the roster learn the new hybrid system, on the fly. That requires patience, and understanding, on his part, and a willingness to play more defense and take a less focal role (probably, not necessarily fewer shots) on offense. Obviously, the rest of the team has to play better as well, and they need to be healthy. But it needs to start with Kobe, and it can’t afford to wait until Nash gets back.

  64. Dwight Howard is not yet healed, so he is having problems holding onto the ball. The back is intricate and effects every limb adversely until it is at optimum strength.

    Howard’s butter fingers are in direct correlation to his back not being at full peak. Add to the fact, as another poster stated, that donning a Lakers uniform is not easy and wrought with underlying adversity.

    I have touted forever that playing for the Lakers is far different than playing for any other team in the league. Few players are capable of playing at a level of excellence in the uniform of the Los Angeles Lakers. Klieg lights shine brightly upon the Lakers, is it any wonder that players can shoot and score on other teams, but when they join the Lakers they can’t throw a pea in the ocean.

    One positive about Phil Jackson is that players have to stay with the team 2-3 years in order to learn the system and as an aside they learn to play on the Lakers. Derek Fisher was always able to handle the pressure of wearing the uniform, although his skills became prohibitive to him staying with the Lakers.

  65. I’m wondering, like some who posted ahead of me, what happened to that explosive team coached by Bernie Bickerstaff?

    Then I remember — he had Steve Blake. Then I remember more — they still lost 4 of the last 7 games Steve Blake played. So, never mind…

  66. jerke, I tend to agree with you about Pau’s poor performance being largely a product of his health, and with improved health I would expect improved performance. How much improvement, I’m not sure, because I still think the overwhelming weight of the evidence shows that Pau is not at his best as a PF, which is all he will be with the Lakers unless he moves to a reserve role. For all the talk of “moving Pau to the post” (and there has been a lot of it) I am waiting for someone to explain how such a move makes Dwight anything other than far less effective, because between the two, Pau (despite his troubles) is the far better player outside the post….

    I also agree that those calling for a coaching change, or even blaming the coach for the team’s current struggles are off the deep end. You ask a guy take over an old team with two starters out of the lineup (one of whom is totally critical to the successful implementation of your system), with no traning camp, a bad bench, and a road-heavy schedule. This is not a recipe for success.

    However, I think it’s a litle revisionist to say that this move was panic-driven and executed at the wrong time. When would have been a better time (assuming the move was not made during teh summer)? Had D’Antoni been healthy himself, he’d have come in with a very favorable schedule–a schedule that I argued at the time was in fact the reason Brown was fired when he was. The Lakers had a ton of home games against bad teams, and a chance to usher in their new coach with a very good record. That strategy worked beautifully at first, but unfortunately the benefit went to an interim coach….

    The story of this team will be written when Nash and Pau rejoin the fray. If the team doesn’t improve by leaps and bounds soon thereafter, we’ll know that barring a trade this season will end like the last two (if not sooner).

  67. So know its Kobe fault? When the other guys hits shots Kobe defers, we seen that a lot of times this season when the rest of the team is shooting 31%what the hell you people expect him to do,if he didnt shoot we would had lost by 25 so get out of here with that BS. If the team is hitting its shots he became a triple double treat, missing layups and open 3s and having butterfingers hands on the post arent his fault. Right now Kobe dont trust this team and he is right, he is been the only constant night in night out, not a single player beside hom have showedany kind of consistency

  68. I know what is going to happen on MSG Felton is gonna look like a superstar and the Lakers will let at least 2 no name bench players have career nights. If they dont get it togheter we will get blown out and the team deserve it

  69. Fern,
    It’s everybody’s fault, but if they are going to win it it will be far more likely to happen if Kobe starts the ball rolling by making adjustments.