Photo by Stephen Dunn I Getty Images

With six seconds left in the game, and the Jazz up by just one point, Kobe Bryant had the ball…and it slipped from his hands. It was, in its very essence, the most appropriate ending to a game wrought with sheer carelessness and foolery. They lost to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday in much the same way they did tonight; with an excellent game by Andrew Bynum, but a so-very-so game from everybody else.

Aside from Utah’s Gordon Hayward, who scored a career high 22 points on 9-14 because the Lakers (ahem, Kobe Bryant and everyone else guarding the paint not named Andrew Bynum) barely paid him any mind. Bynum was the only Laker dialed in today – the Most Thought-filled player in a yellow uniform. Regardless of his 5-13 from the field for his 12 points, he had a career-high 23 rebounds, not to mention four blocks. He also played a team-high 38:40 minutes, but even despite the extended playing time, had the most energy on the team. If that knee bothered him on Sunday, he showed no signs of ill-effects tonight. The man had his arms outstretched, hands wide open and feet bounce-ready to grab every imaginable rebound available. Unfortunately, there was little help on the boards from the rest of the team.

Now let’s talk about THOUGHTLESS. First, the Lakers shot 38%, 31-82 from the field. Pau Gasol had 14 points in the first half on 4-6 but attempted just four more shots and made ONE in the second half. Why? Because the Lakers went 0-7 from behind the arc in the first two quarters, then attempted 13 more in the final two, hitting just four. Against a team like the Utah Jazz, who have but one Al Jefferson to contend with in the post, the Lakers decided to jack up outside shots instead of feeding the inside to get some easy points in the paint, or give themselves a chance to be doubled so they could kick out a pass for a wide open perimeter shot. It’s baffling, that at this point in their three-year long advantage in length, the Lakers continue to go away from what works. Inside-out – how difficult is it to remember this game plan, especially against a team who can’t match your size?

Second, they missed 51 shots and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, two power forwards, combined for just FOUR offensive rebounds. Ever since Andrew Bynum surged in his work on the glass, the efforts of Gasol and Odom on the boards have gone south. It’s as if they assume the rebounds had been re-assigned somehow, and that they would not need to exert themselves to pad that particular stat. Gasol averages 10.2 rpg. Tonight he had five. The Lakers, for the second game in a row, were outrebounded.

Third thoughtless item on the list – Kobe Bryant. He had six points in the first half, all from free throws. After attempting just one shot in the first two quarters, he went 5-17 the rest of the way. Did his 20 points, including a late-game three, help? Yes. The five assists? Certainly. The seven turnovers? Not so much. In some of those turnovers, he stayed back to complain about a non-call instead of running back on defense to help keep Utah from scoring. Was the officiating in tonight’s game any more questionable than the last game? Probably about the same. But as a veteran leader with a chance to help the team maintain some ground and rebuild the momentum from the last loss, he chose inopportune moments to complain. Save it for a timeout or during free throws, not when the opposing player who stole the ball from you has run off to score on the other end.

Photo by Stephen Dunn I Getty Images

Next thoughtless item – the absent Laker bench. Without Lamar Odom’s 11 points, the combination of Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, Shannon Brown and Luke Walton produced just eight points on 4-14 from the field, three rebounds and five assists (all from Blake). The reserves can’t seem to be trusted to maintain, let alone increase a lead, and it’s an area of concern moving forward. How can any of these players be trusted with the game on the line when the playoffs come around?

Lastly – 19 turnovers, because the 20 turnovers in the Denver game clearly weren’t enough. The Lakers had leads of 8, 9 and 10, but suffered at the hands of their own carelessness. Utah’s 13 steals accounted for some of that 19. The rest were moments of sheer negligence. There was a whole lot of dribbling, a whole lot of passing in traffic and a whole lot of handling the ball like a Faberge egg.

The Lakers let another win pass them by because they didn’t care enough to play better – plain and simple. Tomorrow they have to contend with an offensive-minded Golden State team, not to mention the likes of Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Portland in the near future. Hopefully the 17-1 version of the team shows up.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts: The Jazz may be out of the playoff hunt, but overlooking this team would be the Lakers’ biggest mistake. They did lead the Lakers by 17 points in last Friday’s game. There’s no reason to think they couldn’t do that again tonight.
Half-time Thoughts: 34-40 – Well, that 10-point lead in the first quarter sure disappeared fast. They gained a little bit of ground, taking a six-point lead to end the half and keeping Utah at 34 points on 33% shooting. The Lakers’ shooting isn’t so hot either, though – 39%. Pau Gasol leads the game with 14 points and Andrew Bynum’s already got 11 rebounds. Kobe Bryant has six points from six free throws and has only attempted one shot. I’d say it’s because he’s facilitating but two assists in 14:40 minutes of play isn’t anything to hang your hat on. Hopefully the Lakers open this lead up in the second half. Give Gasol the ball. He’s feelin’ it!
Most Thoughtless Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Please see above.
Most Thought-filled Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Please see above.

  • rondo

    Stop looking at your hands Kobe.
    I recall seeing you turn the ball over many times this game. Sometimes your hands need to use to pass the ball.

    • http://www.thelakersnation.com billy bob

      dats true

  • Tyler

    Well…Rough game. I think the lakers should start resting some starters. 6 games left, and now catching San Antonio seems highly unlikely. They played so bad due partially to fatigue, and the rest was just carelessness. Playoffs are a few days away, and We really need to go in to them rested a prepared. Maybe rest Pau or Kobe a day or two…

    • 242LakerFan

      They don’t have the cushion to start resting players and losing games. Not with the bench playing so poorly.
      What they need to do is tweak the offense to match the tweaks on defense. I love the way they (especially Bynum) are playing defense, but the last two games have come down to sloppy, careless offense, not taking care of the ball, trying to force entry passes or get too fancy and mainly going away from a strong inside game and jacking outside shots with the ball never having even gone past the top of the key.
      And Anna makes a great observation about Pau and Lamar. Bynum is in Beast Mode since the All Star break and so they seem to have slacked off and gone into Kitty-cat Mode. Bynum’s surgew should be ADDING to our rebounding totals! We shouldn’t be getting career numbers from him and STILL getting outrebounded BY UTAH!!!

    • http://www.thelakersnation.com billy bob

      sa spurs r gonna beat them bad so i think the coach need to rest them all for that game vs spurs

      • 242LakerFan

        Spurs are gonna beat Utah? Uh, okay.

  • bizdady

    For once I want to see Bynum at the end of a game to see what he do on the defensive side. He did have 20+ rebounds and 3 blocks afterall.

    • http://www.thelakersnation.com billy bob

      ard i give him dat

  • John

    Once again the Lakers laying an egg. So much for Sundays game being a fluke. Nice momentum going into the playoffs. Oh and by the way Kobe, you might want to let your hands know that it is OK to pass the damn ball if you don’t have a clear shot. It will make them as big as a game hero if they make the clutch pass also

    • rondo

      Kobe always feels he needs to be the star of the game.Don’t always work that way!

      • http://www.thelakersnation.com billy bob

        it really dont need to be like taht just be yourself and u will be fine not be the best player on th field like stop ur a show off

        • 242LakerFan

          dis ere not cricket dem no play pon field

  • http://www.attorneyguide.com Big Shot Bob

    So are they going to pull the same kind of crap they did last year and limp into the playoffs? They won’t be so lucky this time around if they expect to have home court come the championship round. I just can’t get my mind around the fact that they just turn the switch on and off at will. The last two games are clear examples of their hubris getting the best of them.

  • xtro

    lakers tank that game last night y’all. they want to stay in the number 2 spot so they don’t have to face memphis or portland in the first round or okc in the second round.

  • 123kid

    the last two games have been a lil bit tough to swallow. i know its not the playoffs or the regular season doesnt matter, but i just hate HATE hate when i have my friends laugh and rub it in that the lakers lose. i think the guys are starting to see the fatigue or just getting bored of the regular season. It would be nice to rest some of the starters, but ya with not much of a cushion, its difficult to let them rest. with just 5 more games left and with 3 of them against playoff teams and with possible playoff matchups, the lakers needa finish strong. I hope we could cut throat the rest of the teams easily, so then we can get some time for our bench, because i would like to build confidence in the bench when the playoffs start.

  • Binky

    How to beat the Lakers. http://www.bballbreakdown.com/?p=43

    • http://www.thelakersnation.com billy bob

      shut up they butt

  • sasha4lvp

    Lakers are fine, just bored. Once the playoffs begin, there will be nothing to be bored about.

    • http://www.thelakersnation.com billy bob

      yeah u right until they lose to who eva

      • 242LakerFan

        When the Sheboygan Who Eva officially joins the NBA we’ll be scared.

  • http://www.kaley-cuoco.info Kaley Cuoco Insider

    Lakers are fine. Like sasha4lvp said, they seem bored again since the winning streak. Its probably they already confirmed what they can do, and they’re just waiting for the playoffs to start.

    Not like it’ll matter, but Lakers will match up better if they end up 2nd place because they’ll probably play New Orleans which is better match up for Lakers than against Memphis. If we get past 1st round, we match up against Dallas (most likely), which is better than matching up against Nuggets/Thunder.

  • Tony

    I think they want to stay @ #2 If you actually knew something abour basketball You wouldnt want them to get the #1 seed

    Spurs will have to play OKC in 2nd rd

  • 242LakerFan

    What are all these comments about the Lakers not wanting to be #1? Running from the Thunder? Grow a set, ladies, then come back and make serious comments on this blog!!!

  • ICE CREAM MAN

    Well, the only thing I saw in the game was a bunch of bored players and yes Kobe included. A very active Bynum and a rookie out playing Kobe in every aspect of the game. Let’s face it, Kobe got dogged in the game by the young white kid. Kobe couldn’t stop him and Kobe couldn’t go around him. I don’t think they were double teaming Kobe yesterday. It was him and the white kid and yes Kobe getting mad at the ref because he wasn’t getting bailed out.

    In the game was another example of why the coaches have to show fisher how to make freaking lay ups. He missed one when no one was infront of him again.

    I am not hating or a Celdick lover just hate it when a team is under achieving like this one does.

    • rondo

      Kobe saw Bynum was having a breakout game and wanted to out do Bynum. Make the winning shot and it becomes Kobe’s game to be the savior.

      • ICE CREAM MAN

        I wouldn’t say that. Just that no one was in the game other than Bynum and we almost won. Scary to think that the lakers are capable of winning against the best of them and losing against the worst of them. Personally, I’m happy w/ 2nd place. They have nothing to prove but just defend the championship. If they make it this year it will be the Lakers 4th straight championship appearance. I have no problem w/ them taking the easy road to the champioship. NO PROBLEM WITH IT!!!

        • 242LakerFan

          Like I said before, the offense was total crap, but the D was solid and the game was right there. We threw that one away. It’s not as if we were totally outplayed. Just a shame to have wasted a career game from Bynum.

      • John

        That’s right rondo. Mr. Insecure Black Mamba, starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel but instead of using the weapons around him, he freaks out when they make a louder sound than him. Don’t need to do everything Kobe!

  • Chi-Town Walt