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.