Around The World (Wide Web): Tough Times In Laker Land

Ryan Cole —  January 3, 2013

From Arash Markazi, ESPN LA: Despite starting 2013 with a loss and a below-500 record, Kobe Bryant still expects the Los Angeles Lakers to make the playoffs and compete for a championship. “I don’t think there’s a doubt about that,” Bryant told Colin Cowherd Wednesday on ESPN Radio when asked if the Lakers were built for the playoffs. “The problem is we’ve dug ourselves such a deep hole we got to do a lot of fighting just to catch up and get in that conversation. We firmly believe it’s going to happen but we have to do a lot of fighting just to get there.”The Lakers are currently 9.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific Division and are the tenth place team in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind the Portland Trailblazers for the eighth and final playoff seed. The Lakers can cut into that deficit on Friday night when they play the Clippers at Staples Center.

From Ramneet Singh, Lakers Nation: It seems like every time the Los Angeles Lakers are discussed these days, there are questions about what the team is doing wrong and what coach Mike D’Antoni can do to turn things around.The Lakers are coming off a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night and that defeat prompted some harsh words fromKobe Bryant. Bryant called the Lakers team “old” and “slow” and it was clear by the way the Lakers played that the players are still figuring out their roles in this new system. The Lakers have plenty of options on the roster, but D’Antoni does not want to run specific plays to get his players shots. Instead, D’Antoni is focused on a free-flowing offense and one that requires his players to react to what happens on the court.

From Janis Carr, OC Register: Dwight Howard sat sullenly in front of his locker Tuesday night and tried to explain what is wrong with theLakers. Like how can they one night can beat a team by 17 points and the next fall to the Philadelphia 76ers, 103-99? “The games we’ve won, blowing teams out, we’ve played a certain way,” Howard said. “The games we’ve lost, we’ve played a different way, so we need to find a balance.” But finding that equilibrium has been difficult for the Lakers this season. They’re up, they’re down. They’re winning, they’re losing. Mostly, however, they seem to be stuck in neutral and the frustration is mounting. “It is frustrating,” point guard Steve Nash said. “Obviously we haven’t been able to find that understanding. We’ve had it in moments, but overall we’re still looking for our chemistry.” Both Howard and Nash said the team — and Lakers fans — needs to be patient. “We got to have patience, got to stick with it,” Howard said. “(We have to be patient) knowing that this won’t last forever, knowing that what we’re going through as a team won’t last forever.”

From Ben Bolch, LA Times: There may be no compromise short of a roster overhaul that can save a divided Lakers Nation from its biggest worry heading into 2013. You know, the physical cliff. The Lakers are Paleolithic by NBA standards, with an average age of 28.4. Three of their starters are already in need of retirement-benefits advisors: Pau Gasol is 32, Kobe Bryant is 34 and Steve Nash turns 39 next month. With advancing age come not only wear-and-tear injuries (see Gasol’s knees, assorted Bryant body parts) but wear-you-out nights like the one the Lakers experienced Tuesday in losing to Philadelphia. The younger and feistier 76ers made everyone wearing purple and gold resemble old-timey characters out of a faded black-and-white photo.

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: The notion that inconsistency hurts a team’s performance is as obvious as the sun is hot. If you have a job to do, and sometimes you do that job well while other times you do that job poorly, obviously it would be better if you just did your job well all the time. And generally speaking, it is better to play consistently at the same level instead of sometimes playing above that level and sometimes below that level, even if things average out to be equal. So if I were to say that inconsistency is killing the Los Angeles Lakers, you’d probably respond with something along the lines of “Well, D’uh”.

Ryan Cole