The question isn’t, “what factors led to the Lakers’ loss?” The question is, “what factors DIDN’T contribute to this Lakers’ loss?” And the answer is – not a whole lot.
After thumping the Mavericks in Dallas, the Lakers cited energy as their leading source for playing such an efficient game. It was the best they’d played all season, and some even suggested that the team had finally figured things out, even with Steve Nash and Steve Blake on the sidelines.
Boy do the Lakers have short-term memories, because that game in Dallas (a mere three days ago) became a distant afterthought once the clock started running against the Indiana Pacers tonight. Despite Kobe Bryant being the one fending off flu-like symptoms, he seemed to be the player with the most fight.
Energy was amiss for most of tonight’s contest, as was ball movement, efficiency, teamwork – the list goes on. The quick whistles aside, the Lakers didn’t play their best, but the game never appeared out of their reach. They fell behind by double-digit points on a few occasions, but always somehow managed to catch up. They were given multiple chances to win in the waning minutes, but the misfortune throughout the evening had just compounded by game’s end and they never fully recovered…and on Chick Hearn’s birthday!
By definition (that I made up), pseudo-high points are those that appeared to be positives but were quickly demoded to low points by virtue of results; as in they meant to do good but just accomplished more bad.
• Kobe Bryant – 40 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals? While suffering through flu-like symptoms? That’s signature Mamba and the Lakers may have lost by a lot more had he not done the work that he did. With that being said, he took 28 shots and the player with the next most attempts was Dwight Howard with 10. To be fair, the Lakers seemed to defer to Bryant often, especially late in the game, and as has happened before, they gave Kobe the ball, and he figured out ways to try to score, which didn’t happen in 16 of those 28 attempts. And the 10 turnovers? Whether caused by weakness from the flu or just plain carelessness, didn’t help either way.
• Dwight Howard – 17 points on 7-10 from the field, eight rebounds, and four blocks. It was a productive evening for Howard, protecting the paint as effectively as he did and being able to score in the process, but the 3-12 from the free throw line is something this team cannot live with. With under a minute left in the game, and the Lakers behind by a single point, Howard was fouled and missed two free throws that would have given them the lead. Howard is now shooting 49.7% from the charity stripe.
• Pau Gasol – An almost double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, not to mention three assists, and one block. Unfortunately, Gasol didn’t engage himself with the game until it was too little, too late.
• Defense – The Lakers kept Indiana shooting under 50% in every quarter and forced 17 turnovers. Unfortunately, they barely shot 32% themselves and racked up 21 turnovers in between.
• Sluggish Offense – Uncertain as to whether “sluggish” is the correct term for what the Lakers attempted on the offensive end tonight. There was no ball movement (just 13 assists for the entire game), they were betrayed by their homecourt three-point line and basket, which had them at a pathetic 6-28 from downtown. Their quaerter-by-quarter shooting percentage reads 41%, 22%, 29% and 33%. They finished with 32% from the field and it’s a real wonder they only lost by two points. If the Pacers hadn’t shot as poorly as they did, this might’ve been a blow-out for Indiana.
• Free throws – Bryant and Gasol were a combined 17-19 from the free throw line, but the rest of the team went just 6-24. The Lakers attempted 43 free throws (16 more than the Pacers) and missed 20 – I repeat, the Lakers missed 20 FREE THROWS. Missed free throws were a significant factor in four of the Lakers’ eight losses so far (three of which were at home, by the way):
o vs. Mavericks – Lost by 9, 12-31 free throws = 19 misses
o @ Jazz – Lost by 9, 32-46 free throws = 12 misses
o vs. Spurs – Lost by 2, 14-22 free throws = 8 misses
o vs. Pacers – Lost by 2 points, 23-43 free throws = 20 misses
Of course there are significantly more game-changing factors that contribute to wins and losses, but free throws are the most straightforward and least complicated factor of all and the Lakers need to figure this out before it goes from bad to worse.
• Turnovers – 21 turnovers, and Kobe Bryant had almost half of them with 10. How many more ways can the Lakers be told that they need to take better care of the ball?
The Lakers are a complete mystery to this day. 15 games in, and there’s still no telling how this season is going to play out, especially with two players on the sidelines unable to help in any situation.
Sorry, Chickie Baby – we might be short on jigglin’ Jel-lo for a while longer.