The Lakers are still looking for that switch they swear can be thrown at any point in time. Since the season began the warning signs were present. So much so that Derek Fisher took his team to task after a listless win against the T-Wolves. But that warning, like all the rest that have come since, was ignored.
What we’re looking at is a team that is either bored, unfocused or just plain not a title contender.
The latest warning sign of impending doom has been the inability of this team to hold onto a large lead. That game against Cleveland doesn’t count. D-League competition and all stats amassed against said comp shouldn’t be recognized. What does count is the alarming number of leads the Lake Show has leaked away recently.
As Mike Bresnahan of the Times points out, the Lakers have blown double digit leads the last three games. Worst of all is not the leads they’ve lost but how they’ve responded. Namely by going away from what has worked and becoming complacent on defense. See last night in Dallas as Exhibit A.
While the Lakers are waiting for the regular season to end they’re losing sight of perhaps the most important factor of all in their three-peat quest – homecourt. If ever a team needed to play in front of their home fans as often as possible to win a title it’s the 2010-11 Lakers. With just one win on the road against winning teams, Phil Jackson must know he’s got his work cut out for him.
Without the killer instinct to finish off opponents, every contest is a potential meltdown waiting to happen. Once these Lakers get a double-digit lead, they relax to the point where they’re simply turning up the radio as the wheels are coming off. Before you know it, desperation sets in and the need to score in a hurry becomes the only option. Bad defense leads to worse offense.
At this point, it is unclear if this team will step up to the nightly challenge of defending their last two titles. We keep waiting for them to turn the corner and at every turn, no matter how promising it may appear, a dead end is found. Relying on others to falter is a recipe for disaster but that’s what these Lakers are flirting with.