Photo: Cary Edmondson, US Presswire

The Lakers were flat out dominated in the second half of last night’s brutal loss to the Sacramento Kings, with a final score of 113 – 97. Our biggest strength is supposed to be our two big men down low, but they looked putrid against the Kings’ combo of Cousins, Thompson, and Hayes.

The Lakers looked lethargic, tired, and unmotivated against the worst team in the Western Conference. As usual, the only two starters that came to play and gave maximum effort throughout the game were Kobe and Metta. The Lakers’ second unit, aside from a nice Jodie Meeks 4th quarter, played like garbage and because of their continued poor play the starters are playing just under 40 minutes a game.

Things will not get easier for Gasol and Howard as they face arguably the best down low tag-team in the NBA when the Lakers travel to Memphis Friday night and face Marc Gasol and Z-Bo a.k.a. Zach Randolph. Friday night will be a true test as to how much this Lakers team really wants to be great against an opponent in the Grizzlies that has been winning statement games all season and looks to make another one against the Lakers. Regardless, here are the grades for last night’s loss:

Darius Morris: C-

Way too many turnovers and not nearly enough assists. Morris showed why the Lakers desperately need the Steve’s back by not showing poise when needed. If the pressure of playing in Arco Arena got to him, wait until he sees what it’s like in OKC, San Antonio, and Boston.

Kobe Bryant: A-

One of the only Lakers players to show up and give maximum effort all night. 7 turnovers will not get it done, but what do you expect when the guy has to carry his lazy team the entire second half? Games like this really emphasize the importance of having a true point guard floor general like Steve Nash, or even Steve Blake for that matter. Kobe showed why he’s a true champion tonight, because he has heart and refuses to be punked by anybody, unlike some of the other Lakers players.

Metta World Peace: B

Metta showed up as usual tonight, but it just wasn’t enough. On a night where half your team seems like they don’t give a damn, it’s nice to know that you will always have a guy like Metta who refuses to look sorry.

Pau Gasol: F

Forget the stat sheet and forget the first half. Pau plays like he has cement in his shoes and is made of twigs. When DeMarcus Cousins is crossing you over, something is wrong with you. When Jason Thompson is abusing you in the low post, something is wrong with you. When you refuse to go down low when Dwight Howard is on the bench, and instead you just hover around the 3-point line like you’re a guard, something is wrong with you. Doesn’t this guy know he’s on thin ice and is likely going to get traded if he doesn’t step it up? You’d think a two time World Champion would have some pride and heart and at least show some effort when running up and down the floor during the game. If Pau can’t keep up with the D’Antoni offense, then his days in LA are numbered.

Dwight Howard: D

The first game Dwight has played in a Lakers uni in which he was a complete non-factor on both ends of the floor. Unlike Pau, Dwight has the excuse that he is recovering from back surgery and is not yet 100% health-wise and in his conditioning. If games like this happen after the all-star break, Dwight will be getting the same F that Pau earned tonight.

Jordan Hill: C+

Missed free throws and poor shooting cost J. Hill, but at least the effort was there from him tonight. When the shots aren’t falling, which they sometimes won’t, at least Lakers fans know that Jordan will bring the hustle and tenacity.

Antawn Jamison: F

The biggest enigma for this Lakers team has to be what in the world is going on with Antawn. His only two shots of the game were three pointers and he is not a threat from the outside. With only 5 minutes of playing time, it seems as though Antawn is entering D’Antoni’s dog house to join Mr. Ebanks (More on Ebanks later).

Chris Duhon: C-

Need to see more from Duhon, especially considering how he is supposed to know D’Antoni’s offense better than the players that are playing at the moment.

Jodie Meeks: B+

He was quiet during the first 3 quarters, but Jodie finally made an impact in the 4th and started hitting some shots. It’s amazing what confidence will do for a player, and especially a shooter like Meeks. Hopefully this hot shooting will continue for Meeks as he needs to become our scoring threat off the bench since Antawn still has yet to make an impact.

Devin Ebanks: N/A

Last night’s game was one that Ebanks should have gotten playing time for, but it seems like the Lakers organization is punishing young Devin for his off the court D.U.I. problem. Ebanks is long, athletic, can run the floor, and has a decent jump shot so it seems as if he would be perfect for the D’Antoni system, but we will never know until he is let back onto the court. As long as Devin stays professional and prepared, his number will eventually be called later on in the season.