You’ve made your bed, Lakers, now you must lay in it. Get comfortable because boy have you put yourselves into a difficult situation, with more than half the season gone by and this team still not appearing close to being capable of defending anyone, let alone an NBA Championship Title.
Some will look at this game and say the defending champs were able to stay with the first place Spurs; that they never fell behind by double digits; that they contained Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan; that they fought until the very end. The more realistic observer, however, will look at this game and see that rebounding and defense for this team has become a rare happenstance rather than a consistent effort; that the coaching staff is exhausted from having to repeat themselves about playing from the inside out; that the Lakers’ most skillful big man in Pau Gasol couldn’t defend a real swan if one had the ball with 22 seconds left in the game. People can squeeze all the moral victory juices from this loss, but the fact remains, the Lakers’ championship mentality is running quite dry these days, and the team can’t seem to find the well from which to quench their thirst.
The Spurs lost to the Portland Trailblazers on a night that the Lakers beat the Houston Rockets, putting them a whole game (thought still a bit of a ways) closer to first place. Tonight, they had another chance to close the gap even further and they failed for reasons beyond comprehension – because they didn’t fight for rebounds and couldn’t play an ounce of defense for the final 22.7 seconds of the game.