It is common knowledge that every team in the league plays their best against the Los Angeles Lakers. On the other hand, it would also make common sense that you would score more points in the paint when you have Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in your starting lineup. In the Bizarro world that the Lakers play in when they face lesser teams, it seems that they always find a way to work away from their strengths and play to their weaknesses.
The listless performance put on by the Lakers bigs tonight against Sacramento was highlighted by a 50 to 22 point discrepancy in favor of the Kings. Instead of pounding the ball inside, the Lakers decided to shoot 26 three pointers while only making 12 of them. Porous defense allowed the Kings to shoot 54% from the field and flimsy ball-handling led to 20 turnovers. We can realistically fall back on the fact that we do not have Steve Nash running the point and that the Kings probably won’t make the playoffs but atrocious displays of defense like tonight’s is very troubling. We cannot afford the minutes to pile up on our starters like this especially when it comes to an older team like the Lakers.
These Lakers must realize that when the offense just isn’t clicking, they must rely on getting defensive stops. Its a love/hate relationship between Laker fans and Kobe’s forcing-impossible-shots-because-everyone-else-is-standing-around performances. We love to marvel at such “will” shots but at the same time realize those are the games the usually Lakers lose. These bitter-sweet Mamba moments can be traced to back nights like December 29, 2006 when Kobe led a horrible Laker squad with 58 points in a triple overtime loss against the Charlotte Bobcats.
While those painful days are long gone with the Kwame and Smush, such bad habits still creep up even with the likes of Pau and Dwight on the floor. What will it take for the Lakers to consistently put forth solid efforts against struggling teams? It seems that whether Kobe is surrounded by bad players(ie Luke Walton and Brian Cook as starters) or great players, the aura and arrogance that comes with being the Los Angeles Lakers backfires when facing less-talented teams. It is the paradox that comes along with having such a uniquely talented and psychotically-competitive star like Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers cannot just hope Kobe bails them out on off-nights like tonight. Besides the breakout performance of Jodie Meeks, the rest of the Lakers were idle and just looked like a bunch of guys who didn’t want to be in the Sleep Train Arena the night before Thanksgiving. The same question must be asked again: “How do you expect to run with the wolves come night, when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?”