No Defense + 4th Quarter Meltdown = Doomed Lakers

It’s still not time to panic. Just because the Lakers unflipped the switch doesn’t mean that it’s time to hit that button. Let’s not kid ourselves though. This is about the worst time of the year to have your longest losing streak in four years.

There are some disturbing trends emerging.

For starters the Lake Show failed to complete the season sweep of a potential playoff foe for the second straight game. Losing in Portland then taking an L against Oklahoma City tonight means two teams L.A. owned all season were given a sudden injection of confidence by getting a taste of victory.

Second and more concerning is the continued lack of defense. Tonight’s effort on defense had a lot in common with LeBron’s mom – embarrassing.

The Thunder got just about any shot they wanted all night long. Kevin Durant seemed like he could just pick a spot on the floor, dribble to it and drop a shot as he dropped an all too easy 31.

While Durant is a headache, Russell Westbrook is the one that brings the pain.

The Leuzinger alum kills the Lake Show. It’s pretty much at the point where the only hope is that he lets that blazing speed get to his head and starts to play out of control. Otherwise Westbrook is unstoppable, Derrick Rose style. The truly bad news is that Russell is starting to get a more consistent jumper.

Only once in four quarters did the Lakers hold OKC under 30 points. What’s most amazing of all is that despite the lackluster effort on D this game was there for the taking. If you only see the 120-106 final score then you’d assume this one wasn’t close. Truth of the matter is that after the Thunder opened a double digit lead in the first quarter from there out it was all Lakers…until the fourth.

Offensively this was the best game of this unspeakable 5 game skid.

Kobe matched Durant for game honors with 31 of his own. This was Mamba in playoff form as it only took him 19 shots to get his while going 9 of 10 from the line. And we’re not talking about easy buckets either even though KB24 did give it to Thabo Sefolosha. Bryant loves to take it to all those that aspire to be Kobe Stoppers.

And yeah, Kendrick Perkins does bring some of that Celtics stench with him. The kind of stench that encouraged Kobe to his 15th technical of the year. One away from suspension territory. Otherwise the supposed Perkins Effect did little to stop Andrew Bynum from going 12 and 13 with 2 blocks.

Pau was active on offense but dozed on defense. His 26 points were a nice main course but they came with a measly side of only 4 rebounds. Rebounding is a big part of defending and not having Gasol on the boards is a strong indication of what type of defensive effort the Lakers are giving.

Of course there aren’t many rebounds to be hand when the Thunder shoot a ridiculous 56% from the floor and poured a lot of that on in crunch time. OKC ended this game with a 17-2 run. A run that featured one meltdown after another by the Lake Show. Sloppy offense, terrible turnovers and for the cherry on top Kobe fouls Westbrook on a three thus ending this thing with a four point play.

If you’re gonna go down, might as well go down in flames.

The Lakers should approach Fox Sports and demand that all recordings of the fourth quarter be destroyed never to been by another human being again. This game was yet another rough ride on this roller coaster season.

Now comes the ugly truth.

This team has gone from chasing the top seed in the West to facing the prospects of  slipping all the way to fourth. Suddenly the Mavs and Lakers are tied for second. Oh and Oklahoma City is now only a game back. The good news is that if this holds up the Lakers will hold tiebreakers on both teams. The bad news is that the Lakers get a date with the Spurs as the next chance to end this streak.

I’m still going to say that this is no time to panic. This team is a veteran group with the ability to right the ship amid the most turbulent waters. You don’t want to be playing like this before the playoffs but this still isn’t the playoffs. The problem is this late season brain fart has the potential to make the playoff road even more uphill than it needs to be.

The truth is the Lakers have been their own worst enemy all year long. Tempting fate has long been the calling card of this squad that thrives on drama. Even if they’re the ones that are creating all of that drama.

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Tags: Andrew Bynum Derrick Rose Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Oklahoma City Thunder Pau Gasol Russell Westbrook Thabo Sefolosha

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