And just like that the unfocused Lakers are back. Talk about the perfect storm. As if having to play another back-to-back on the road wasn’t enough, it had to be the Charlotte Bobcats on the back end. Toss in Kobe Bryant struggling through some flu-like symptoms and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
What is it about the Bobcats that makes the Lakers look like the Clippers? Tonight’s hideous 20-point loss makes it the eighth time in their last 10 meetings that the Lake Show has tasted defeat at the hands of Charlotte. No matter where they meet it’s a problem for L.A. but playing in North Carolina is where things get truly awful.
The game began well enough as the Lakers opened an early lead by running their offense and playing intense defense. But mid-way through the first quarter the wheels began to wobble and by the end of the third the Lakers were rolling on rims. An eight point deficit grew to a twenty point deficit and before you knew it Gerald Wallace was looking more Mamba than Mamba.
There are no excuses for playing this way. Yes, it has been a long trip and we’re well aware that they were balling in Orlando just yesterday. Tired legs aside, the effort is once again lacking.
Bryant was out of sync all night. Sometimes you feel as if Kobe’s competitive nature gets the best of him because though he was well enough to play he wasn’t right enough to get it in gear when his team needed him.
Once again the bigs played small making Kwame Brown and Nazr Mohammed look like Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon. Charlotte’s athletic perimeter players wreaked havoc on the Lakers too. Wallace, Stephen Jackson and Gerald Henderson got whatever shot they wanted whenever they wanted it.
On offense there was zero rhythm. When Phil’s men fall in love with the three, bad things happen. Going 1 for their first 15 attempts didn’t slow the Lakers’ roll. They kept jacking up bad shots even doing so out of timeouts.
All the way around this was a worthless performance.
With the final stop in Cleveland the Lakers have a great chance to finish the Grammy trip and go to the All-Star break on a good note. This is pro ball and you’re going to have bad nights. But back-to-back listless efforts are inexcusable. However, losing to the Cavs would be unforgivable. If ever the Lakers needed a slump buster it’s now!