Report Card: Lakers @ Bulls

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. This Lakers team just flat out stinks and the product they display on the court has officially become a joke. From the beginning of the season this team has lacked something every great team needs: an identity. Do they play inside – out? Do they run iso plays? Do they run a pick-and-roll system? Who knows. The truth is, this team is composed of 4 talented all-star caliber players. Two of those players are team first individuals while the other two are selfish individuals.

Kobe Bryant shot an abysmal 7 -22 tonight against a great defensive team in the Chicago Bulls, but anyone that watched the game will tell you that not a single of those 22 shots were easy shots. Every shot seemed forced and contested, which is exactly the opposite of what Kobe claimed he wanted offensively.

The Lakers have two of the top big men in the NBA, yet they continue to take terrible shots off of terrible ball movement. Whenever the Lakers dump the ball into the post they either get a high percentage shot in the paint, an easy pass to a cutting player, or a wide open three. And yet, these Lakers, in particular Kobe, insist on taking outside shots for no apparent reason other than they don’t trust their big men will make the right play.

This Lakers team may make the playoffs, but they will go absolutely nowhere if they continue to play this brand of basketball. First it was the coach, then it was the injuries, then it was the rotation; when will the onus fall squarely on the shoulders of their two superstars Kobe and Dwight?

If Kobe is honest in his statement that the blame should go all on him then he needs to try something different. Playing hero ball for 48 minutes while getting locked down by Jimmy Butler is not something a true leader does. Let’s see what happens if for an entire game Kobe doesn’t take any contested shots and instead throws the ball into the post on every single offensive possession. I am absolutely positive that great things will start to happen for this team.

Unfortunately, the team is full of stubborn coaches and players that refuse to change, and it seems this season has become a lost cause. Here are the grades for the egregious loss to an undermanned Bull’s team:

Steve Nash: B-

Can’t knock Nash too hard for getting burned defensively because it was no secret that Nash is not a good defensive player. He shot the ball fairly well, but Nash needs to set this offense up by posting up the big men. Everyone knows he prefers the pick-and-roll game with the bigs, but how long can he continue to do the same thing over and over before he finally realizes it’s not working?

Kobe Bryant: F

If I could give Kobe a lower grade, believe me I would. It was obvious to anyone that’s watched Kobe throughout his career that he took the great defensive effort of Jimmy Butler as a challenge, and he would have won the battle a few years ago, but this is his 17th season and young guys now have the athletic advantage to defend Kobe very well one on one. Instead, Kobe took terrible shots early in the shot clock and tried to get his against a young player that he must have felt disrespected by in some way. These little battles are ok when you have a winning record, but when you are fighting to get out of the 11th seed in your conference, these foolish battles look very, well, foolish.

Metta World Peace: B

One of the very few players on this team that still shows pride and believes in his team. Metta may not be the best shooter, but Laker Nation can always count on him to bring it every game. Many fans have begged for Metta to be traded, but imagine how bad this team would be without Metta’s defense and energy, two intangibles that make a huge difference for a team.

Earl Clark: B

Gotta feel sorry for EC. He’s playing hard every night on a team that shows no teamwork or chemistry whatsoever.

Dwight Howard: F

No longer will Dwight get a pass for his lack of shot attempts. It’s time for Dwight to show some competitive edge and demand that he get the ball. If you are the biggest and strongest man on the court for every game, you should be able to demand the ball every time down the floor. He needs to get in the face of his teammates and show them that he means business. If he continues to play passively and look like a clown, then his team will continue to treat him like a damn clown.

Pau Gasol: B

Decent game for Pau off the bench even though he expressed that he wants to start. At this point, I actually want Pau to be traded not because the Lakers need somebody better, but because Pau deserves so much better. He is a two-time world champion being treated like Amar’e Stoudemire by a coach who has won absolutely nothing in his career. Pau isn’t being utilized correctly and if he is ever traded to a team that knows how to use him, watch him flourish and make every Laker fan that disrespected his game look like a fool.