In his latest installment, Sam continues to hope for a “Kings-esque” season and wonders what dastardly deal D’Antoni deduced from the Devil to finally get his “bigs” out of his rotation.
After going “on the road” to play the dominating Los Angeles Clippers, I thought that Denver would be a nice win before beginning a ridiculously tough road trip for this Lakers team, especially when playing without Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill. But the Lakers played with a clear lack of effort once more against a Denver team who is starting to make some noise in the Western Conference. And with 18 losses on the season, the Lakers are looking up at the 11th spot in the conference. But the season is far from over and teams like Houston, Minnesota, Portland, and Denver could easily have more losses than the Lakers at the end of the season. That is, if the Lakers actually step up their effort and stop losing games. But if the Lakers keep losing to teams like Denver, who they beat at home earlier this season without Steve Nash, then there is no way they manage to stave off enough losses to keep themselves in the playoff hunt.
But no matter what Lakers doubters want to say, the Lakers still have a chance to get into the playoffs and make a deep run. While it doesn’t at all help that the players are getting injured, I would much rather have them out of the lineup in the middle of the season as opposed to the end when they are trying to make a run to the 8th seed. Now don’t get me wrong, when you’re down 2 starters and one of the only bench players who managed to show some effort on both ends of the floor, it’s going to be extremely difficult to win games against Houston, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City no matter who you are. But I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store this week for this utterly fascinating Lakers team.
I mean, D’Antoni finally gets to play small ball with the Lakers. Now of course I know D’Antoni didn’t make some deal with the devil to get rid of Gasol, Howard, and Hill. No coach in his right mind would want to go down one of the best defensive centers in the league (bad back and all) and lose Hill’s consistent effort, but it’s finally up to the shooters on the team to get the job done with D’Antoni’s system. I expect to see more minutes from Nash, Chris Duhon, Darius Morris, and Antawn Jamison until the “bigs” get back. And I’m interested to see how they play. Maybe it will be a blessing in disguise. Maybe the players who haven’t been stepping up to the challenge finally rise to the occasion. But they haven’t done so in the past, so I have no idea why I expect them to do so now.
But I’m going to predict something here. And I could be completely wrong, but I’m going on record saying that the Lakers will make it to the playoffs. And if they’re playing as well as their reputation on paper, then they should have a run just like the Kings did and wreck house in the playoffs. But just like the Kings, the Lakers can only beat the elite teams in the West by playing like a team. And if the players still can’t get to the same page in the locker room, then it won’t matter how well the players play individually; if they’re not playing like a team, there is no way they’ll get anywhere near good enough to contest for a championship.
I try not to state the obvious with these articles. As someone who respects the skill it takes to provide insightful analysis of sports teams, I want to show that I know more than just stating the obvious. But with the Lakers, they make it hard for me to do that. The only consistency with the Lakers is their inconsistency from game to game. Hence the eloquent title of today’s installment. But with every loss, there always seems to be 1 main problem that led to the loss. Against Denver, it was turnovers (18 total TOs with 10 Denver steals). Against the Clippers, they got out-rebounded 47 to 36 and the Clippers had 27 assists while the Lakers only had 19. The Lakers just aren’t playing a complete game of basketball. And all of those problems are related to a lack of effort on the defensive end of the floor. But I’ve said plenty on that before though, so I won’t say it again. The Lakers need to start playing error-free basketball, or else it won’t matter how good they play through March and April. But I can definitely say that I know the Lakers will make it interesting for the fans and they won’t let southern California forget about them. I just can’t wait to see how that happens.
Sam Accardo is a writer at Hefferbrew. He is looking forward to seeing how the Lakers play without Howard, Gasol, and Hill and what the (often disappointing) role players do to try and win games. Keep checking the Hefferbrew for future installments of Utterly Fascinating and see if Sam will be punished for his hope and optimism. Follow him @samcar455