With each game they play away from Staples Center the flaws that will prevent the Lakers from competing for an NBA title become crystal clear. Tonight’s 100-89 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks was just the latest entry into the Lakers’ book on looking lousy on the road.
Without a stellar showing on defense the Lake Show has no chance to find victory. This is true no matter where they play. But when a team with depth, like Milwaukee, is on its game then there is no chance. Mike Brown’s offense just can’t produce enough to keep up with teams that are constantly rotating fresh bodies in and out of the game.
As usual the entire offensive burden fell on the shoulders of Kobe Bryant. Nothing new about that.
What is new is the reliance on Bryant to do everything. KB24 nearly dropped a triple-double with a fantasy-pleasing line of 27, 8 and 9. But he is only one man and cannot possibly go toe-to-toe with a balanced attack like the one the Bucks offered tonight.
Even without the injured Andrew Bogut and suspended Stephen Jackson, the Bucks did damage.
Drew Gooden led the way with 23, one of six Bucks in double figures. When compared to the four men that hit 10 or more for the Lakers the math becomes all too simple.
Not enough punch to leave a mark on the face of the opponent.
This team looked nothing like the feisty and inspired squad we saw square off against the Clippers early this week. Metta World Peace reverted to his normal form with a listless effort that yielded 4 points on 1 of 6 shooting. Five of Metta’s shots were from beyond the arc. That is not his forte and it best illustrates why the Lakers are so offensively inept.
All night long the Lakers shied away from their advantage in the interior while allowing the shot clock to run down to the final seconds thus forcing low-percentage shot attempts.
Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol should have had a field day against the smaller Bucks. That was not even close to being the case. Pau continues to look lost in the offense. Under no circumstances should Gasol ever shoot 6 of 18 as he did tonight. His game is not about volume shooting. It used to be based on efficiency.
When Bynum is being checked by guys like Gooden under no circumstances should he only get off 10 shots as he did tonight.
Something has got to change. Whether that means making a trade or simply scrapping the current offensive strategy, Coach Brown needs to refocus his team in a hurry. The season is almost halfway over and the Lake Show already looks done.
The Milwaukee Bucks were winless in seven contests without Bogut until tonight. The Lakers have just one win in 8 road games including this result. That will never be a recipe for winning a title. It will also ensure a complete overhaul if these troubling trends continue.
Were it not for another strong showing by rookie Andrew Goudelock with 13 off the bench this game would have been even uglier than it was. Two true signs of the Laker apocalypse are Bryant’s team losing when he has a game like tonight and relying on an unproven rookie to carry the bench.
No progress is being made and the Lakers are getting ready to enter their most trying road trip of the season. We’ll soon see just what this team is really made of. If they dig deep and find ways to win on the road we’ll know the championship resolve is still there. Should they continue to rollover on the road and relax against lesser competition then we’ll know that the way last season ended was only a sign of the end of days for this once burgeoning dynasty.