The Lakers fell to 0-2 on the season after another sub-par performance against an inferior opponent. Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers. That basically summed up the night for the Lakers as they coughed up the ball a staggering 25 times which translated to 28 points for the Blazers. The Lakers need to protect the rock like it’s their newborn baby. Last night we saw far too many lazy passes from guys who are usually clean (i.e. Kobe).
On top of the turnover woes was the defense, or lack thereof. I understand that the offense might take some time to function properly and smoothly, but Mike Brown was brought in here as a defensive specialist and last night’s defensive performance/effort was putrid to say the least. Half of that is on Coach Brown, but the other half has to be on the players and the effort they’re giving.
Kobe Bryant is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but there was a play in the first quarter when Metta lost control of the ball and Kobe never even moved in an attempt to get back on D. That, my friends, is losing basketball. The Lakers are a team of veterans who should know by now that this journey will not be easy whatsoever. They will have the bullseye on their backs all year and teams will be putting maximum effort into the game in hopes of spoiling the Lakers’ season.
The Lakers gave up 30, 32, and 30 points in the first three quarters, respectively. Now most of the blame can be put on the 25 turnovers, but at the end of the day it will be the Lakers defense that will determine whether or not they’re hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in June. Another issue that needs to be shored up is the amount of offensive rebounds the Blazers got last night which is disgraceful when you think about who is out there. Pau Gasol needs to understand that Dwight is not 100% no matter how good he looks.
Too many times last night we saw Dwight going up against two or three Portland players fighting for the rebound while Pau stood idly by, hoping the rebound would be magically corralled by his Superstar center. No, Pau! Get your big body in the middle of that fight and show those undersized Blazer players that they won’t be getting any offensive boards that night. I love what Jordan Hill brings to the team when he’s out there: maximum effort. He always seems to be at the right place at the right time, but he lacks the offensive talents and size of Pau, so he becomes somewhat of a liability at times. A tone needs to be set early in games by the Laker bigs, showing the opposition that they are going to be outmuscled and outhustled all night. Until that happens, this Lakers team will only go as far as Dwight’s surgically repaired back will take them. And that means they will not be winning games consistently until the All-Star break.
A quick note about the offense: I still don’t like it. I don’t know if it’s the players not cutting correctly or with the right amount of effort, but far too often we see terrible spacing because they dump the ball into the post while four other Lakers hover around the perimeter waiting for the ball to swing to their side. GARBAGE, plain and simple. Mike Brown has the keys to a Ferrari and yet he chooses to drive it like a Pinto.
Lastly, I’d like to take a second to acknowledge Blazers’ rookie point guard Damian Lillard. I was expecting a decent performance, but I was wrong. This kid is a star in the making. Remember the name because he will be wreaking havoc against the Lakers for the next decade or so. This might be the tightest Rookie of the Year voting between him and Anthony Davis of New Orleans. Should be very interesting to watch all season.
TOP 3 PERFORMANCES:
1.) Dwight Howard – 33 & 14 and he’s not even fully healthy yet? WOW is an understatement as to how much of an effect this man has on basketball games. He showed fans and speculators that he does have a little bit of a postgame, no matter what Shaq may think.
2.) Kobe Bryant –While I was upset at Kobe’s lack of effort on the defensive side, he did help keep the Lakers in the game with his shooting. Even though I despise this Princeton offense, Kobe will always benefit from it because he will get the ball on the elbow where his deadly arsenal of moves and skill will flourish.
3.) Steve Blake –Believe it or not, I thought Blake was very effective in this game after Nash went down with his injury. He had zero turnovers and shot the ball well, even though he did not fill up the box score.