Nashless-Lakers Still in Turmoil

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The Los Angeles Lakers and their fans are baffled by their current sub-.500 record and all signs point to another few weeks of lackluster performances until Steve Nash can return from injury.

In the most recent bemusement, the Lakers dropped a heart-wrenching 79-77 loss on Tuesday night at the hands of the visiting Indiana Pacers, despite Kobe Bryant’s 40 point borage. What’s worse? The Pacers trumped the Lakers without Danny Granger, their team captain and leading scorer.

The Lakers’ supporting cast looked lost in Mike D’Antoni’s new, up-tempo scheme. In fact, they totaled only 37 points between them, the fewest among Lakers’ players not named Bryant this season. And much of the blame is being directed at Pau Gasol, in his new role as a pick-and-pop player. On Tuesday, he managed just 10 points on a measly 2-of-9 shooting from the floor and was blocked a staggering five times.

Center Dwight Howard was the only other effective scorer on the floor for the Lakers.  The 7-footer tallied an impressive night from the field, posting 17 points on 7-0f-10 shooting. He also contributed four blocks and a steal while altering shots in bunches. However, his free throw percentage still remains suspect.  Howard stepped to the line 12 times and only knocked down three free throws.

The rest of the Lakers squad flat out stunk up the joint.  Metta World Peace, Darius Morris and Antawn Jamison combined for a measly 2-for-21 shooting night.

So where does that leave the rhythmless Lakers?

Though the season is still young, piling on losses is never a good thing.  Especially if there are playoff seeding implications on the line (note: you can never look too far ahead). If they keep falling in the NBA West standings, they could find themselves facing the division’s best come playoff time — say the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies or the ageless San Antonio Spurs.  All three teams are capable of bouncing the Lakers from the playoffs even with a healthy Steve Nash in the lineup.

But Nash’s health is still one thing yet to be accounted for. It is expected that the two-time All-Star will inject some life into a stagnant, lets-let-Kobe-shoot-the-ball type offense that we’ve seen during the pre-Gasol era and post-Shaq era. But the 38-year-old guard still

remains out indefinitely. Which means that the Lakers will have to trudge on with backup point guard Steve Blake, who’s battling his own set of injuries — an abdominal strain is the latest setback.

With a 1-4 record on the road, the Lakers are going to have to put their nose to the grindstone and come up with at least a plus .500 record until Nash returns. Otherwise, it’s going to be a disappointing season for the Lakers faithful as they fight for a bottom-four playoff position.

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