Losing finally starting to bug 0-3 Lakers
NOV 03, 2012 12:23a ET
Magic Johnson was still at Michigan State, Jack Kent Cooke still owned the team and they had future Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes and Adrian Dantley on the roster. Also a young Norm Nixon. They lost each of those games by two points, but were resilient and motivated and were able to turn it around in a hurry, splitting the next two and then running off a 14-game winning streak. They finished the month of October 15-5 on the way to a 47-35 record under head coach Jerry West.
The 2012-2013 team has possibly four future HOFers in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. But there seems to be very little motivation and resiliency so far, and a 14-game winning streak and quick turnaround seems to be nothing more than wishful thinking.
Friday's 105-95 loss to the Clippers is their second straight 10-point loss — they lost the opener by eight — and they haven't won a game since May 18. Thirteen consecutive losses and a blank so far this season. It's getting seriously ugly.
There seems to be no fire when the team makes a bad play — and they make a lot of them. They've committed 59 turnovers in the three games, giving up 70 points in the process. And for a team with as many great players in the starting lineup, it's striking to watch most of the players hang their heads when things go wrong.
The Clippers deserve accolades for their play against the rival Lakers.
Their bench crushed the Laker reserves, 46-16 in points and 15-7 in rebounds. Jamal Crawford had 21 to lead the bench. And if you could put a number on athleticism, passion, desire and enthusiasm, it was was an absolute rout.
Chris Paul ate up everybody who tried to guard him, torching the Lakers for 18 points, 15 assists, six rebounds and three steals. Blake Griffin had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Caron Butler chipped in with 14. Starting center DeAndre Jordan said the difference was second chance points.
"We made sure to crash the boards on the defensive and offensive ends, and we were able to make it work in our favor," Jordan said. The Clippers ended up with nine offensive rebounds that led to 20 points.
"Nine offensive rebounds for 20 second chance points," mused Bryant, who led all scorers with 40 points. "I'm not sure I've ever heard of that or that it's possible. But I guess it is."
The Lakers will go for a win against the 0-2 Detroit Pistons Sunday night at Staples Center, while the Clippers will be going for their third win in a row Saturday night at Staples Center against 1-1 Golden State.
Five more thoughts:
1. The losing seems to finally be getting to Howard. The normally optimistic and jovial big man was not in a good mood following the loss to the Clippers. He got in early foul trouble and was limited to just thirty minutes. Asked about his performance, he responded with "you ask the referees." And for most of the time he was talking he gave very short answers. "We've got to stop turning the ball over" and "we just have to play" answers that gave little insight into anything except his frustration level ...
2. Metta World Peace was the most pleasant Laker following the game, but dropped a bombshell saying that he and his teammates needed to play with more energy. Not a bombshell from the standpoint that it's pretty obvious they're a step slow, but from World Peace giving a nearly complete rundown of the Lakers' last eight days under head coach Mike Brown. He seemed to be insinuating that there were too many practices and not enough rest for the team. "We're off (Saturday) and that should be good for us," MWP said. "We should be fresh against Detroit Sunday night." ...
3. I've mentioned it before, but Brown has got to take the blinders off and realize that this is an older team with injured stars. He makes no secret of the fact that he loves long practices and teaching, and I'm sure he's pretty good at it. He does have 313 career victories. But he's literally going to destroy the key players on this squad — Bryant, Nash, Howard and Gasol — if he doesn't pull in the reigns. A lot of teaching can be done in the film room, without jeopardizing the long-term health of your stars — especially ones like Nash and Bryant, who are in their 17th seasons and have thousands of miles on their legs and other joints. And Howard, who is coming off major spinal surgery that was caused by a herniated disc and the weakening of muscles in his back. It's a constant requirement now for him to keep those muscles tight and not fatigued, something Brown needs to realize. If the second-year Laker coach keeps it up, he's going to work himself out of a job ...
4. Brown and his coaches also need to do something about the Laker bench. It's been awful so far and is certainly a huge factor in the team's 0-3 record. Antawn Jamison is apparently getting used to his new surroundings, new coaches and their new offense, because 19.5 per game scorers over 14-year careers don't all of a sudden forget how to score. So far, that's exactly what's happened to Jamison. He's averaging a paltry 3.7 points per game, and he was supposed to be the key player in a revamped reserve unit. And what about Jodie Meeks? He's a shooter, the Lakers needed points and a momentum shift against the Clippers, but Brown left Meeks on the bench, even though they were down a guard with Nash missing the game because of the leg bruise. Shooters shoot—and Meeks can bomb away from behind the three-point arc--but they need the opportunity. Chris Duhon—who has averaged nearly 7 points per game in his career—hasn't scored a point three games into the season, playing just four total minutes. Duhon's certainly no savior. But he can help if the coach lets him ...
5. Defense. Defense. Defense. As ugly as it looks, the offense has been only a part of the reason the Lakers are off to a bad start. Learning a new offense takes time, and Brown has indicated he's sticking with it for the duration. (Whether its for the duration of the season or his time as head coach is still in question). But defense is about 20 percent technique and 80 percent hustle, energy and perseverance, and a team full of All Stars and future Hall of Fame inductees can't seem to play hard on every play. Giving second, third and fourth efforts is what turns a team's D from sluggish to successful, and the effort hasn't been there at all for the Lakers.
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