NBA Pacific: Lakers keep finding way to Lose
As the season turns down the backstretch and heads towards the postseason, no one can agree on why the Los Angeles Lakers are playing as they are.
The season started bad, with the team losing four of their first five and firing Mike Brown their head coach. Things have not been any better since that point.
The team set the tone early in their season and the slow start has now become a full scale panic. When new head Coach Mike D’Antoni arrived on the scene, instead of bringing the team together his presence has triggered players only meetings and suggestions in the hundreds on how to fix the team.
That has caused the locker room to become divided with D’Antoni glaring at Kobe Bryant, who glares at Pau Gasol, who glares at Dwight Howard. The end result just after the halfway point of the season is the Lakers are in third place 11 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific division.
They are in 10th place in the Western Conference standings 16 games behind the San Antonio Spurs, but more importantly 3 ½ game behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
Since the Lakers’ low point on January 23 of 17-25, the team has won five of six heading into Tuesday’s game at Brooklyn, which they won as well, but then lost on Thursday by 21 to Boston. The seven game road trip they currently on will conclude on Sunday with Miami but also has Charlotte. If they can win three of four on the trip, they could return to just two games below .500 with 30 games left on the schedule.
Against the six top teams in the conference – the Spurs, Thunder, Grizzlies, Clippers, Nuggets and Warriors – the Lakers are just 4-10. They are just 13-18 against teams in the western conference and have to play 21 of their last 30 games against teams in the western conference.
Some NBA scouts have said that putting together a successful team is like a puzzle, but it does not mean just getting the best or close to the best players at each position. Since many times the best cannot play together.
The team must find a way to work on the court as one, even if they are not all friends or do not all get along off the court. D’Antoni needs to have the four top players – Bryant, Howard, Gasol and Steve Nash – to bond similar to six seasons ago when Doc Rivers accomplished it with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for the Celtics.
Some observers have said that the Howard acquisition might not have been worth it. Howard has not been able to get up and down the court as he did before his back surgery and players he completely dominated before the surgery are now staying up with him.
Do not look for the results to be from a player swap. Mitch Kupchak the Lakers GM says that the problem cannot be fixed by swapping players. He says a trade will not be made this season.