Why is it that the Lakers don't seem to be able to focus their attention for a full 48 minutes against even the worst teams in the league? — Ron, Las Vegas, NV
What you say is absolutely true, and here are the reasons:
# The team lacks a killer instinct. Once they build a significant lead, everybody relaxes, gets selfish on offense and lackadaisical on defense.
# Kobe is one of the biggest culprits in this regard. He'll distribute the ball and execute the triangle for a while, and then he'll inevitably go into his one-man-band mode, forcing shots and leaving his man to track the ball and make unnecessary gambles on defense. Sometimes he can win games on his own recognizance. Sometimes the Lakers can reassert their mastery and win the game again. Sometimes they lose games they should easily have won. Remember Game 4 against Boston last June?
# When Kobe starts looking for his points, his teammates get frustrated and also start to force shots. Even Derek Fisher is often guilty of taking quick shots — knowing that if he passes to ostensibly initiate the offense, it's not likely that he'll get the ball back.
# With a big lead, Pau Gasol simply doesn't get enough touches.
# Although the return of Andrew Bynum has pushed Lamar Odom to the bench, the second unit is still not truly trustworthy.
# Luke Walton is supposed to be a facilitator who can make open shots, but he tends to over-handle and he perpetually wants to prove that (like his father?) he can score in the low post.
# Sasha Vujacic is a scatterbrain who believes that hounding his man (and sometimes fouling him) full-court constitutes aggressive defense. While he can put some pressure on the ball, his weak-side defense is shaky. Indeed, his poor decision making is likewise evident on offense. On the flip side, Vujacic can also contribute 3-pointers out of nowhere.
# The Lakers are finally convinced that Jordan Farmar can't make the grade. His screen-and-roll defense is horrid, and like Vujacic, he doesn't make appropriate decisions with the ball. Shannon Brown is — and will continue to be — a marked improvement.
# But it all comes down to the overall immaturity of the players. In truth, when the lights are switched on, only Gasol and Fisher conduct themselves like grownups. Which is not to say that the Lakers can't win the championship. If they do, they'll have a more difficult time of it than will be necessary. And if they don't, they'll only have themselves to blame.
Charley Rosen wrote this article. He and Phil think alike and they're close friends. So if you wanna know what Phil's thinking, read Rosen's articles
Edited by MDI, April 12, 2009 - 10:34 AM.