They were the best of teams. They were the worst of teams. Watching the Lakers play against Denver and Houston right after pounding the red-hot Suns was unbelievably frustrating, akin to watching a brand-new Ferrari drive down the street with two flat tires.
Against the Suns, we caught a glimpse of the well-oiled machine that the Lakers can be. They shot about 58% with 36 assists on 53 shots made while holding the Suns to 37% shooting.
But against Denver, it was a different Lakers. Slow rotations on defense. Stagnant offense, with the shot-clock always almost out before someone threw-up a poorly advised shot. A lot of one-on-one and no passing. The result? 35% shooting with 19 assists on 31 made shots. Denver torched us at 43% shooting with 28 assists on 37 shots made.
What accounts for such poor play? The “they were tired from playing the night before” excuse works once, but how do you explain the loss in Houston? This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde temperament of this team cannot be explained away on injuries or altitude. The real culprit? Attitude.
The Lakers are still drunk on their Championship draught. They show up most games expecting to win and to win easily. Knowing that the only games that matter happen late in the Spring, they could care less about the regular season. Finally, they don’t really respect most teams enough to try hard. The combination of these factors amount to a very unmotivated Lakers team. They know how good they are.
Meanwhile, ever other team in the league wants to make their name at the Lakers’ expense and brings their “A” game.
The Lakers seem to get motivated only when they play a team they truly hate, truly fear or after they’ve been truly embarrassed. So basically circle the games against the Spurs, Suns, Cavaliers, and Celtics and any after a bad loss or two. Those are the games you can expect to the Lakers show up and play hard. The rest of the season you can expect the lackluster, just-good-enough-to-win-most-the-time efforts to continue.
That being said, these Lakers remind me of another Lakers team: the 2000-2001 Lakers. Shaq showed up at the beginning of the season overweight. The team seemed bored and unmotivated all season long. They struggled with injuries. They struggled with the Shaq and Kobe dispute. And then they turned it on. They came in a few games behind the red-hot Spurs as the second seed in the West. Shaq dove for loose balls. The whole team played their hearts out. And the Lakers broke records by sweeping their way to the Finals and then crushing Allen Iverson’s 76ers in 5.
So don’t fret. Lakers will do great things. Just don’t expect them anytime soon.
- I’m still not sure what the Thunder’s colors are.
- I really didn’t like seeing Ariza in a Rockets jersey. I was even happy for him when he drained that three.
- I loved watching the highlight of Fish laying out Scola. I hate Scola.
- Brooks seriously looks like he’s in high school.
- Gotta love Houston. Japanese-owned arena (Toyota Center) in America with Chinese advertising.
- Kobe doesn’t get nearly the same amount of calls that LBJ gets.
- I think the Piston’s coach has been brokering sub-prime loans.
- You can take the team out of Detroit, but you can’t take Detroit out of the team.