The Lakers came into Chicago to play the Bulls tonight, minus Luol Deng, perhaps their best all around player this season. That told me advantage Lakers in the paint. Yes the Bulls still had Boozer and Noah, but they are too small to compete with the Lakers big guys. Surely, Howard, Clark, and Gasol would have their way in the paint. But once again, they proved me wrong.
Nash was unable to get the ball inside in the first half, and when he did, Howard found a way to screw it up. I have been frustrated all year watching this guy. I thought he was going to bring an inside presence, a dominating presence. The kind not seen since Shaq was in his prime. Instead, he fumbles and bumbles his way to the basket, and when he gets fouled, more often than not misses his free throws. Rip Hamilton was energetic, and scored 10 points in the first half, and Boozer and Noah were active on the glass. They out hustled the Lakers on the loose balls, & Nate Robinson was drilling uncontested 3 pointers.
The Lakers scored 29 points in the 3rd quarter, held a 37-29 advantage on the boards, & found themselves tied at 69 heading into the final quarter. Once again, that’s when it all fell apart for the purple and gold. The Lakers allowed the likes of Kirk Heinrich, Marco Belinelli, & Jimmy Butler look like Jordan, Pippen, & Rodman. Not to mention, Kobe had another terrible shooting night, & add to that Steve Nash can’t play defense anymore, & Dwight Howard was invisible.
The Lakers have now lost 6 straight road games, & have to go to Memphis on Wednesday to play the Grizzlies. Good luck with that. L.A. now has as many losses this month (9) as the OKC Thunder have all season. Oh, and did I mention the Lakers road record of 5-14 is tied with the Charlotte Bobcats? Real exciting stuff, huh? What’s most troubling to me is how the Lakers still have no identity as a team, have no energy, play no defense, and are getting older by the day. I don’t care that Nash had 18 points, he let Kirk Heinrich make him look silly.
I have no sugar coating to put on this game, and I certainly wouldn’t even try. After watching the Lakers melt down in the 4th quarter, and play like they had nothing left in the tank, it’s time to call it like it is. This team is in deep, deep trouble. Every time you think this team is making a move in the right direction, they make a U-turn. The only bright spots in this game for me was the effort put forth by Earl Clark & Metta World Peace. And both of them even had defensive breakdowns, but at least they played hard.
I guess it’s back to the drawing board again, but the Lakers are running out of time. The good thing about this league, is the schedule doesn’t allow time for sulking. Time to go get a win in Memphis. Maybe Elvis can help them win one.