Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Rockets Run Short-handed Lakers Ragged

This is about what you’d expect of Mike D’Antoni ball when there is nothing to anchor it in the middle. Without their top three big men the Lakes played small ball which in D’Antoni terms is nothing more than glorified pickup ball.

Mostly unwatchable, this one got out of hand quick in the third quarter as the Lake Show gave away their lead for good before folding 125-112 to the Houston Rockets.

If you thought the Lakers played no D before then wait until they get a couple more of these sloppy shorthanded contests under their belt in the coming week. This one was hardly an NBA game more resembling what you’d expect to see at any open gym.

First there are some props in order.

Steve Nash recorded his 10,000th career assist tonight putting the future Hall of Famer in very exclusive company. Up next in Nash’s sights is none other than Laker Legend Magic Johnson sitting 130+ assists in front of the current L.A. floor general.

That was about the only good news of the night for the Lakers. Everything else is negative. Yet another loss as the streak now hits four with no end in sight.

With no true big men the Lakers played a brand of ugly one-on-one ball that will never be good enough to win in this league.

Most of the shots that went up tonight were forced. There was no flow as the Lake Show just ran the floor all night rarely getting into an offensive set.

For whatever it’s worth Kobe Bryant didn’t lead the Lakers in scoring tonight. Very much a rarity these days. Today it was Metta World Peace with 24 that led the way for the Lakers’ wayward attack. Nash posted another pointless double-double going for 16 and 10.

But nothing the Lakers do on offense matters when the Rockets were able to get out in transition, find mismatches, exploit them and then repeat.

James Harden led all scorers with 31 while Jeremy Lin got off for 19 bucking his recent trend of poor performances against the Lakers.

But the real story of this one is revealed in the bottom line.

Bottom line you’re not going to win when the opposition shoots 55% as the Rockets did.

Bottom line you’re not going to make the playoffs if these results keep piling up.

Bottom line…this season is pretty much over.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers

  • Buckus Toothnail

    The Lakers tonight actually played BETTER without their big men than they have recently with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Mike D’Antoni was able to better install his small “run and gun” offense, and the Lakers got off to a good start. The problem they faced is that Houston ALSO plays in that style of uptempo offense, with the highest scoring offense in the league.

    That has ALWAYS been the problem with any of D’Antoni’s teams, which is the other team being able to keep up offensively and score MORE than you. The Lakers scored 112, for heaven’s sake, enough to win MOST games, but the Rockets scored 125!

    How the Rockets succeeded while playing basically the same style as D’Antoni’s Lakers is that they also play DEFENSE. The third quarter when the Rockets clamped down and outscored the Lakers by 12 points, blowing the game open. Playing good defense on Kobe obviously helps, as he scored only 20 points, about 10 less than his average, shooting a miserable 8 of 22 and only 2 of 8 from the arc. Just as important, the Rockets limited their fouls on him, sending him to the charity stripe just twice.

    What the Lakers desperately need is some defensive coherence. Just putting up points on the board at a rapid pace is not enough anymore in this league. This isn’t 2004-05 when most teams were still playing the half-court game that allowed D’Antoni’s Suns to blitz the league and win 62 games and make the conference finals. Now so many teams utilize this uptempo offense with great success, including D’Antoni’s former team, the New York Knicks.

    Yes, current Knicks coach Mike Woodson has kept MUCH of D’Antoni’s offensive system in place, which is a far cry from the iso-dominated offense he installed when he was head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. The difference between Woodson’s and D’Antoni’s systems for the Knicks, however, is that Woodson has a much better DEFENSIVE system in place, precisely why Woodson has had FAR more success with the team, even at the end of last season when he inherited the SAME TEAM from D’Antoni.

    I’m not sure if there is a solution for the Lakers other than fire D’Antoni and replace him with a better coach, one that understands offense AND defense. The ULTIMATE coach would be, of course, Phil Jackson. The problem with keeping D’Antoni, even when the problems the team is facing have been identified, is that he is UNABLE to make adjustments.

    No, not “unwilling”, he is simply UNABLE to. Like a one-trick pony, D’Antoni has demonstrated throughout his head coaching career that he cannot change his system to suit any circumstances or personnel, and that he can only be successful by changing the PERSONNEL to suit his system. This isn’t going to happen this season on the Lakers, and with so much on the line, including Kobe’s advancing age and limited years as an elite player, Steve Nash’s already apparent diminishing skills, and the extreme likelihood of Dwight Howard leaving the Lakers for free agency during the summer if the team misses the playoffs, the stakes for the Lakers have never been higher and the urgency for change and salvation has never been greater.

    With almost near certainty the Lakers will lose their next two games against San Antonio and Oklahoma City, giving them a six game losing streak. Even worse, the rest of the month looks EXTREMELY daunting, with games against playoff-bound Miami, Memphis, Milwaukee, Chicago, and a second game against the Thunder, as well as against Utah who are directly above the Lakers in the West standings, with the Jazz having won BOTH previous meetings between the teams this season.

    The only “easy” opposition the Lakers will face this month are Toronto, New Orleans, Phoenix and Cleveland, though the Cavs beat them in their previous meeting and the Hornets are much improved now with Eric Gordon having returned to the team.

    Unless the Lakers front office does something drastic, and I don’t mean by changing the roster, expect the Lakers to miss the post-season for the first time since the 2004-05 season, ironically or perhaps quite fittingly the same season D’Antoni came into NBA prominence with his “run and gun” system.