It was hard to watch. And just when things were starting to look up, it got even harder to watch. The same problems that have plagued the Lakers all season prevailed once again on Sunday, as the Lakers fell to the Jazz 117-110. A last ditch comeback effort fell short and then imploded when the Lakers, down 5 with under a minute, committed a foul despite already letting the shot clock run all the way down to 5.
Lack of defense continues to be a problem as the Lakers gave up 117 points, on 54% shooting. The Jazz outscored the Lakers 54-34 in the paint, 19-4 on fast-break points, and 21-15 from the free throw line. In fact, the one area the Lakers showed signs of promise was from long distance, hitting 15 of 28 three pointers. Transition defense, turnovers, and points in the paint continued to be an issue as they have been all season. One game after giving up 41 points in the 2nd quarter to OKC, the Lakers gave up 35 in the 2nd to Utah.
Laker fans are understandably frustrated. We’ve seen hints of what the Lakers can be, but all too often that has been erased by lack of effort or consistency, especially on the defensive end. D’Antoni shared similar despair,
“There’s no excuse for giving up 117 points, giving up 35 or 40-point quarters. There’s no excuse for not running back on defense . . . I just don’t think we’ve had a ‘gut-check’ moment yet. At some point we’re going to draw a line in the sand and that’s it, you have to fight.”
At 9-12, that line should have already been drawn. There’s only so much longer we can continue to excuse it as being early in the season, or blame our woes on injuries. The Lakers start a favorable four game road-trip on Tuesday against the Cavaliers. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are rumored to return on this stretch, and being that we are now a quarter of the way through the regular season, this presents an excellent opportunity for the Lakers to begin to turn this ship around.