Ron Artest needs to step up his play in order for L.A. to win (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

After Third Straight Loss, Is It Time To Panic?

As Laker fans, we tend to overreact to about every game. If we win, we throw a parade, proclaim how great we are, and start preparing  for the next banner. If we lose? Oh boy. Laker fans head to the ledge, waiting to jump off.

L.A. couldn't stop Golden State's dynamic duo (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

“Pau’s soft.” “Fisher’s too old.” “I told you we can’t rely on Bynum!” “Kobe’s a ballhog!” “What’s Artest doing?!?!”

Those are all statements you hear after a loss. And rightfully so. As Laker fans, we’re spoiled. L.A. has failed to make the playoffs only nine times, ever. The Clippers have missed the playoffs nine times this decade.

We expect to win. When we do, all is well. When we don’t, we can’t handle ourselves.

Now, obviously this is a generalization. Some Laker fans believe in L.A. no matter what. Some don’t overreact. But that some is a minority.

After an embarrassing 95-87 loss to the Golden State Warriors, L.A. now stands at a crossroad.

How are they going to respond?

With three straight losses, things are looking down when they should be looking up. The playoffs are right around the corner. There is no time to be blowing games to misfits like the Warriors.

After starting the post All-Star Break strong, on  a17-1 winning streak, the Lakers have now dropped three in a row, dropping their post-ASB record to 17-4. Now, 17-4 is still impressive, but not as impressive as 20-1 or 19-2 would be.

To make matters worse (or better), L.A. is now out of contention for home-court in the West. With L.A.’s loss, it dropped them to 23 losses on the season. With the Spurs winning tonight, they now have 60 wins.

Mathematically, its obviously impossible for L.A. to reach 60 wins (59 at best). Therefore, if L.A. and San Antonio meet in the playoffs, Game 7 will be in the AT&T Center (if there is one).

In addition, L.A. is three losses back from Chicago with four games remaining, meaning they would most likely not have homecourt against the Bulls either. They are now tied with Boston in the loss column and are one game ahead of Miami.

To be honest, I’m more concerned with the East. The Spurs are definitely a threat, but they still have to deal with either Denver or Oklahoma City first. An Eastern Conference foe is looking a lot tougher than any threat the Spurs can pose for the Lakers.

Therefore, the goal remains to win out the season. If we do, it is likely we will finish with the third best record, behind only San Antonio and Chicago. If we don’t win out, we may face the daunting task of playing Boston or Miami without home-court in the Finals.

We have no shot at the one seed, so it appears our date with destiny (Dallas) awaits. Unless of course they blow their one game lead over the Thunder and force us to play Durant, Westbrook and Perkins in the second round.

Onto tonight’s game. Where do I start?

Ron Artest, 1-for-7 from the field. Seriously Ronnie? Oh yeah, he added 2 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. L.A. needs more production from Ron-Ron. He should always be in the 8-12 points range with 4-5 rebounds, 3-4 assists and 2+ steals. Not that stats matter or anything.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for only 16 shots! 16 shots against an undersized team with bad defenders in the front-court?!?! They managed to shoot 12-for-16. Add 5 more shots (and say they hit 3) and you have a combined 15-for-21 shooting night, and 6 more points. They should each be shooting at least 10 shots a game.

Kobe Bryant had an okay game. Yes he had 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting with 4 steals, but he only had 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Plus, he only managed to get to the line 6 times (making 4).

Derek Fisher lit up the scoreboard, shooting 2-for-9 from the field, en route to an amazing 6 points. I feel like Fish and Ron try and out due each other to see who can impact the game least offensively.

Remember our bench? Neither do I. Apparently they’re gone missing. Lamar Odom had 8 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, with a putrid 6 turnovers. Steve Blake struggled yet again, going 0-5 from the field. L.A.’s point guard duo combined to shoot 2-for-14 for the game.

Matt Barnes actually had a productive game, finishing with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block. Shannon Brown couldn’t find his shot, en route to a 1-for-6 shooting night.

It gets worse. Golden State out-rebounded L.A. 50-47. Let that sink in for a second. Golden State out-rebounding L.A.

They also managed more assists, blocks and steals, while committing fewer turnovers. Throw in better free-throw and three-point shooting, and you have a giant W (figuratively, not literally).

What killed the Lakers? The Warriors version of the “Big 3.” David Lee went off for 22 points and 17 rebounds, Monta Ellis added 26 points and 6 rebounds, and Stephen Curry chipped in 22 points and 5 assists.

L.A. made mistake after mistake and eventually the lead grew insurmountable.

As L.A. finishes the season, with only four games remaining, they will be put to the test. With games remaining against Portland, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, their schedule is no cakewalk the rest of the way.

If they get back to the basics, give the ball to their big men, get production from the Ron, Fish and their bench, they should be fine come playoff time.

Take this loss for what it is, a regular season loss. L.A. may limp into the playoffs, but once they’re there, it’ll be time for takeover.

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Saturday, Nov 11 Nov7:30at Golden State WarriorsBuy Tickets

Tags: Andrew Bynum Derek Fisher Kobe Bryant Lamar Odom Los Angeles Lakers Matt Barnes NBA Pau Gasol Ron Artest Shannon Brown Steve Blake

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