Time to Press the Panic Button LA?

We all know about the Lakers’ problems so far this season. I mean, just look at their record. The Los Angeles Lakers–a team with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol–are 15-18. Needless to say, they are performing well below expectations, but what’s wrong, and is it time to transition into panic mode?

You could argue the Lakers were already in panic mode when fired Mike Brown after an 0-5 start, but things haven’t gotten much better with D’Antoni at the helm.

First there’s the whole chemistry thing. It’s kind of a big deal in the NBA. That’s why teams like the Spurs stay among the best teams in the league. They have a core group of guys who’ve played together forever. Right now, the Lakers still don’t have that . They’ve only played 33 games together, so that’s part of it.

A bigger part though is the injuries. Nash’s fractured leg, Howard’s recovery from back surgery and recent shoulder injury and Gasol’s tendinitis have all hindered the team from gelling. The Lakers have played 33 games together, but that core group of stars has only played a handful of games in which everyone was healthy.

Then there’s the in-fighting. When you gather a group of egotistical stars together (I won’t name names, but I think you know who they are), sometimes its tough to get along. The Lakers’ past troubles with this has been well publicized and recently ESPN and other sports outlets reported that Howard and Bryant had a tiff, which wouldn’t be too surprising. However, here’s what the Lakers had to say about it:

“Me and Kobe don’t have a problem with each other,” Howard said via ESPN.com. “We’re not beefing. So, for somebody to come out with a random story saying me and him got in a fight and for it to make ESPN like we’re beefing is ridiculous. I just think it’s funny.”

“It’s completely false,” said D’Antoni. “Completely false. It doesn’t surprise me that reports like that get out, but most of the time it’s a little sad, because it’s not true. If it was true or close to true, then OK, but it’s not close to true.”

Bryant’s response came in the form of a tweet that included the picture below, which attempts to mock the entire situation. The pic features Bryant and Howard play fighting with D’Antoni in the middle.

Whether the in-fighting is going on or not, if I was on the team, I would be focusing less on what the media is saying and more on improving, as the Lakers are currently ranked 19th in the NBA in assists and a pathetic 26th in scoring defense, allowing more than 100 points per game.

Another thing to consider is the offense they are running. Many issued complaints with Brown’s system, and D’Antoni’s does have them scoring more points. This is true. However, Bryant recently blamed the team’s age and lack of energy on their poor performance instead of the chemistry and injury issues, which leads one to wonder; is this fast paced offense a good fit for this group of mostly aging players? Thinking about their poor defensive effort, it’s certainly something to consider.

So, the bottom line is the Lakers should have their hand hovering over that panic button because if they don’t figure out something soon and begin to get healthy, they won’t even be making the playoffs this season, which of course would be beyond a disappointing season for a team with so much hype and so much talent…

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