As a fan of basketball I understand that there will be games like this. I inherently know that there will be nights where a team not only doesn’t play well, but they play really, really bad. They stink up the joint to the point that fans are left wondering if they’re actually trying to play well of if there is some sort of conspiracy amongst the players to play as poorly as possible just to show you how ugly the game can be. Against the Bobcats the Lakers had one of those games. There will be some that take this game, look at the loss to Miami just one night before, take a look at how the Lakers have played below their standard at different points this season and come to the conclusion that this team is in trouble. That they’re not really a good team. That they’re ripe for a major fall or that they’re not championship material.
I am not one of those people. Judging the Lakers based off (possibly) their worst game of the season is like judging a beauty queen when she first wakes up in the morning and she’s hung over after an all nighter out drinking with girls. Yes, she does look like this now, but we all know that she’s looked better. I mean, are the Lakers the team that we just saw get trounced by the ‘Cats or are they the team that beat Denver just six days ago? The fact is, the Lakers are both of those teams. So, fans can say that they’re not sure who this team is, and that would be valid. But I am sure. They’re an inconsistent bunch that can both inspire unwavering confidence and extreme doubt in their abilities. And while I understand the frustration and I understand the want to vent and bury this team, remember what this team is capable of and take a deep breath. This team is better than it’s showed in the past two nights. How much better can not be judged now and should not be. And while this one game is symptomatic of other performances that have allowed fans to doubt, it is still just one game (admittedly a bad one, but still).
There really is no need to break down this game in any real way with any in-depth analysis. The Lakers played poorly; beyond poorly really. They, again, suffered from some sort of aversion to taking care of the ball and were not sharp on offense for almost the entire evening. Charlotte, on the other hand, did play well. They made shots and went on runs that the Lakers did not have answers for. Over the middle part of the game (2nd and 3rd quarters), the ‘Cats outscored the Lakers by 15 points with hot shooting from the outside and solid pick and roll play. The Lakers either didn’t defend well or ineffectively and could not sustain effective offense, playing a classic game of one-step-forward-two-steps-backwards basketball where they’d make a shot and then on the subsequent possessions give up a three pointer and commit a turnover. Watching the game unfold in the manner that it did was frustrating, but it was also a game where so many things kept going wrong that I just concluded it wasn’t the Lakers’ night.
Some may try to explain away this game with the circumstances surrounding it – the fact that Charlotte is a team that has our number or the fact that the Lakers played 53 minutes last night in a different city and are dealing with injury concerns that have players playing longer minutes as our coaches go with a shortened rotation. But just as I am not a person that will abandon my belief in this team, I also will not succumb to these excuses. Now, those are legitimate reasons, and I’m sure they contributed to the Lakers loss, but in the end, I just think the Lakers played bad. There will be days like this.
Does this Lakers team have things to be concerned about? Yes. I’m concerned that they seem to be in a rut of committing turnovers. I’m concerned that our big men have too many games where shots that realistically should fall do not. I am concerned that it’s too infrequent where the Lakers have more than three players play well on a single night. But even with all of those concerns, my outlook on what is possible this season has not changed. The Lakers are still one of only a handful of teams that can win the championship this year. And while I understand that winning a championship with be tough sledding for this year’s Lakers, I think that same statement applies to every team that has a team capable of winning. Do you think any team is looking forward to a seven game series against the Lakers? I don’t. So, take a deep breath Lakers fans, this is a bad stretch but tomorrow is a new day. The Lakers will have another chance on Sunday. There are better days ahead.