Now that’s more like it. These are the Lakers we’re more accustomed to seeing on the road. Whoever that team was in Dallas that played with heart, gave a solid effort and didn’t get flustered must have stayed in Dallas. The team tonight that fell apart defensively, was stagnant offensively was wounded mentally and lost 100-85 to the Oklahoma City Thunder was much more Laker-like.
How else could the Lakers have gone to the All-Star break? From one end of the spectrum to the other. Fantastic yet flawed one night to just flat out flawed the next.
The lone place for these Lakers to hang their hat on this season has been defense. For 24 minutes they played solid D but were typically terrible on offense. All that did was buy the Thunder time to warm up.
Before you knew it OKC was getting any shot they wanted. Kevin Durant unleashed the total offensive arsenal as he dropped a game-high 33. Russell Westbrook played fast and furious, a pace the Lake is painfully not equipped to defend. James Harden was the usual beast off the bench the Lakers would love to have.
Harden also managed to get under the skin of Kobe Bryant. Late in the contest, when the game was already decided, KB24 and Black Beard Harden had to be separated. For his troubles of playing peacemaker Metta World Peace caught a technical.
Bryant had yet another terrible shooting night which no doubt added to his angst when Harden started chirping. Coming off an awful night in Dallas, Mamba was toothless scoring 24 on a hideous 7 of 24 shooting.
Meanwhile Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had it going but just couldn’t get touches when the team needed big buckets. The Spaniard is trending upwards. He’s slowly rediscovering his efficient ways.
As for Drew, he’s making a bad habit of going from dominant to invisible. During certain stretches of the game Bynum was the bully on the low block. During other portions he was just a big shadow on the court.
Between Bynum and Pau the Laker bigs scored 36 and pulled down 21 rebounds. But most of the evening was spent watching Kobe operate one on five, jacking up terrible shots, forcing his way into awkward situations and generally grinding the offense to a complete halt.
As a team the Lakers shot 38% from the field. As usual only Kobe, Pau and Drew cracked double figures. Compare that to OKC’s 46% clip combined with a deep bench and youthful athleticism and you’ve got yourself a team the Lakers should envy.
You can use the excuse of this being the second end of a tough back-to-back on the road but Mike Brown would argue that. At least with the way he handed out big minutes to his big players you’d assume his squad was rested and ready. Gasol played the fewest minutes of the Lakers’ big three and he logged 38-minutes on the court. Both Bynum and Bryant had a 40-ounce of PT.
All the problems that plague this team were on display tonight. Nothing is a secret in this league. To beat the Lakers you’ve got to get out in transition, build a lead and play with enough effort until the purple and gold fold.
One night the Lakers look like champs, the next night chumps. I’m no insider but when a team plays with inconsistent effort it is a direct result of their lack of focus. Whatever it is that’s affecting the Lakers be it trade rumors, differences with the coaching staff or front office it needs to be rectified in the coming weeks. Otherwise we’re looking at a ticking time bomb set to detonate the second a losing streak kicks in. And then we’re talking full-on meltdown.
The warning signs are all there just as they were last season. It shouldn’t take another playoff flop to know an overhaul is overdue.