The Los Angeles Lakers finally snapped their six game losing streak this week and they did it in dramatic fashion against longtime rival Boston. The Lakers had an up and down week and were inconsistent as evidenced by two losses to Cleveland and Phoenix.
The Good: The Lakers scored over 100 points in all three games this week. With their defense struggling all season long, they need the offense to consistently put up 100+ in order to stay competitive in games. They were able to do so this week.
The Lakers shot 60 percent from three point land in Boston after shooting around 30 percent in the 13 games leading up to the showdown at the Garden. Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, and Wes Johnson were all spot on from beyond the arc. The trio combined for 23-of-50 from three point land.
Speaking of Marshall, he continues to show that he’s the real deal. He has 53 assists in the last four games, which is 12 more than anyone else during that span. In the win against Boston, he hit the go ahead three pointer late in the fourth quarter showing signs of clutch.
Ryan Kelly also played the best game of his young career at Boston – scoring 20 points and playing a critical role in the fourth quarter. In fact, he’s the only player on the Lakers during the last 14 games to have a positive plus-minus rating at +0.4. Those aren’t from garbage minutes, either. Kelly played in all 14 games and averaged 18 minutes.
Finally, Pau Gasol continues to play well as he continues to put up vintage Pau numbers — at least offensively. This week he averaged 22.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
Oh, and the victory over the Celtics meant that the Lakers have now beaten their cross country rivals five of the last six times. Nothing better than dominating your biggest rival.
The Bad: The Lakers continue to excel in the art of not defending well. Yes, of course, they have injuries and Mike D’Antoni’s system doesn’t exactly stress defense but check out these atrocious numbers:
In other words, bet the over.
I actually tried to see how many times Laker fans won Jack In The Box tacos this year at Staples Center (the Lakers won and held the opponent to less than 100 points) and was surprised to see that number was six times in eight home wins. What does this mean? It means that the Lakers win when they defend. Simple as that.
They got a break last night because they were on fire from three point land and because the Celtics are the Celtics. The fact of the matter is the Lakers continue to be an awful defensive team and that’s why they fell into that awful slump.
Fans can make all the injury excuses they want. The team still has guys like Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol, and Jodie Meeks who have been in the league. There’s no excuse why Gasol has the second worst defensive rating on the Lakers.
Offensively, turnovers continued to be a problem for the Lakers. After just turning it over 12 times against Cleveland, the Lakers coughed it up 36 times over the last two road games. In the win against Boston, they did a great job in the first quarter with just one turnover. However, in the last three frames they averaged six per quarter.
The Lakers also got killed on the offensive glass this week. Their opponents averaged 15 offensive rebounds per game while the Lakers just had 7.3. The disparity in offensive rebounds means that opponents are getting more opportunities to score.
Finally, it was clear that all the losing was causing some Lakers to get frustrated. Nick Young’s punch toward Phoenix’s Alex Len resulted in his suspension from the game against Boston. The Lakers can’t afford to lose players for no reason with all these injuries bringing them down. It was only one game but the team needs to be more disciplined even when they frustration sets in.
What’s On Tap: The Lakers play two sets of back-to-backs this week. Tomorrow they have a matinee at Toronto before playing an MLK showdown against the Bulls. Then, after a couple days off they head to Florida to take on both the Heat and the Magic.