Ever since the Lakers received their Championship rings before the season opener, the only thing that seemed to be on everyone’s minds was getting another one. There were high expectations for this defending championship team, as should have been. Lofty goals of record-breaking wins, establishing dominance through an uber-talented roster and keeping that Larry O’Brien trophy in Los Angeles were posed, and no one — not the fans, media, or even their opponents expected anything less.
A lot can happen, good and bad, to a team in an 82-game season, however, and the defending champions were no exception.
Tonight’s game against the Clippers could have ended the regular season on a much higher note. Instead, it was an evening filled with every obstacle (most self-inflicted), that has plagued the Lakers all season — stagnant ball movement and refusal to run offensive sets (Lakers “out-assisted” by the Clippers 31-20), inconsistent outside shooting (4-11 from downtown), dulled free throw capabilities (19-28), turnovers (14), and injury (Sasha Vujacic’s sprained ankle now added to the long list of battle wounds the team has or is facing).
It is quite a grocery list of negativity, and the Lakers have three days to correct all their wrongs.
There were, however, some positives from this evening’s relatively pointless game. Shannon Brown, after having one of his most efficient games against Sacramento last night, put in 39 minutes of burn to produce 18 points on 7-14 shooting, five rebounds and three assists. With Jordan Farmar appearing for only the final 1.3 seconds of the first half due to a strained hamstring that needed no further aggravation, and Sasha nursing a new injury, Shannon and Fish were it for the Lakers backcourt. If Shannon can provide this type of effort in the playoffs, the team is that much better.