A funny thing happened last night. Not funny “ha ha ha”, but funny like I totally saw it coming but still got a bit perturbed by it. In words I have uttered to others multiple times, “that’s your fault” — but this time I was saying it to myself. Last night, against the Heat, the Lakers blew another double digit lead and lost to the Heat. Immediately after that loss, on social media, fans flooded my mentions telling me how terrible the Lakers are. Here, at my site, commenters did the same thing.
This frustrated me. It frustrated me because I think that’s short sighted. It frustrated me because I think the Lakers aren’t as bad as they come off by losing these games. But guess what, that’s my fault. It’s my fault because, let’s face it, I know how some of ya’ll are. Not how all of you are, but some of you. That vocal minority tends to talk loudest when things go poorly and then get silent when things go well. That’s their prerogative and their right. It also frustrates me. But, again, that’s my fault. I know these people exist. I should just let it slide.
What does this have to do with the game against the Magic? Well, not a lot. The Lakers look like a bad team right now. The Magic, as confusing as they are as a construct, are better than them right now. Their record is better and they just beat beat the same Heat team the Lakers blew that lead against. In other words, if the Lakers’ lose tonight I will not be surprised. After all, they will again be without Julius Randle who traveled back to Los Angeles to be with his fiance for the birth of their child. They will also be without Larry Nance. Tarik Black is doubtful to play. This is three-fourths of the team’s front court rotation and they are facing a Magic team whose strength is their front court.
Getting back to my earlier point, this is the context to the Lakers’ season right now. After a hot start and better than thought possible play, the Lakers have fallen back to earth. Part of that is injuries. Part of it is the league catching up to what the team was doing to be successful and then scheming to take those things away, and part of it is the players who are holdovers from previous seasons falling back on some of the bad habits which made them part of the worst teams in franchise history.
So, are the Lakers bad? I guess. But I don’t look at them like a “bad” team. I look at them as a team that is growing and building and trying to reverse some of those habits. These things take time. The way this team is constructed, where players in their 3rd, 2nd, and 1st seasons are being depended on to not just be key contributors but players who will at some point make the leap to become guys who can carry a franchise — carry them through injuries and poor play by teammates and coaching errors and still have them win games. That too takes time.
I can understand some fans don’t want to give the team this time. After years of losing and a hot start, they feel they’ve given enough time. I get it. I think that’s wrong. In fact, I know it is. But that’s not going to change those people’s minds, so whatever. What I will say, though, is that as time passes and this team gets better and the players develop and the coach improves, the product on the floor will start to produce the outcomes everyone wants.
That may not be tonight against the Magic or Sunday against the Clippers. But it’s coming. This I am pretty sure of. Enjoy the game tonight folks.
Where you can watch: 4pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.