O, what can happen outside the great city of Los Angeles. The Lakers found themselves away from Staples Center for five games and were hoping to go undefeated. Well, that didn’t happen and tension began to rise.
The Lakers did play strong on the opener in San Antonio. Lamar had a good first quarter as he dropped 10 points; the team was down 48-41 at the half but came out firing in the third. The team showed some determination as they outscored the Spurs 30-18, and went into the final period up 71-66.
The game did indeed end with a Lakers 92-83 victory, while Kobe and Lamar put up solid numbers.
And in the end, Kobe surpassed Alex English for 12th on the all time scoring list with 24 points; Lamar had 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Game two featured the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers. The game was controlled by the Thunder from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The first quarter had the Lakers shooting 30% from the field while the Thunder shot 48% and had a 27-15 lead.
The second quarter was no different, as the Lakers were down 53-34 and shot 37% from the field. There was no defensive pride as the Thunder were 53% shooting, Kevin Durant had 13 points and Russell Westbrook dropped 17.
There was no rise of intensity or any type of the effort from the Lakers as the Thunder won the third quarter 27-13; and eventually won the game 91-75. The Lakers did not even try to get a run going, and Phil benched Kobe for the entire fourth. The Lakers finished the game at 39% shooting, with only 7 assists and 18 turnovers.
This type of play was a sign that the worst was yet to come. The lack of intensity or as Kobe said “lollygagging”, has been the Achilles’ for the Lakers all season long. With the always tough Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks approaching, Laker fans knew this was going to be a rough stretch of games.
The third game of the road trip included the Houston Rockets, who had a history of playing well against the Lakers. The first quarter was very physical and the Rockets were up 34-27.
In the second quarter, the Lakers overwhelmed the Rockets and went on a 20-0 run, to take a 62-45 lead into halftime. The Lakers were far more efficient as they had 13 assists and only 6 turnovers at half, compared to 4 assists and 11 turnovers vs. the Thunder.
The Lakers went on to win the game 109-101; but after leading by 17, an 8 point victory is not very impressive.
However, Saturday’s performance was far more superior than the performance in Oklahoma City, and the Lakers’ confidence returned. “We tried to be aggressive and bounce back from a poor performance last night. Pau stated on the game. “It was nice to get the win. We cracked it open in the second quarter and that gave up momentum.”
The fourth game of the road trip had the Lakers traveling to New Orleans, to face Chris Paul and the Hornets. The Lakers made it a priority to feed Pau the ball and take advantage of the Hornets’ “bigs”. Pau scored the Lakers first 12 points while Kobe’s first point came on the line with 20 seconds left in the first. The opening quarter finished and the Lakers were down 27-22, with Pau having 14 points, Ron with 7 points, and Kobe scoring only a single point.
By the half, the Hornets expanded their lead to 50-42, and the main issue concerning the Lakers was the lack of offensive execution. While three Lakers reached double-digits, the bench had yet to score a point.
The Lakers pathetic play continued and the Hornets came out victorious 108-100, the Lakers lost their second game and were 2-2 on the road trip. The bench was a major weak spot in the game, as they only scored 12 while the Hornets bench had 42. “I told the guys I didn’t like the first half.” Phil on the game vs. the Hornets. “Obviously, the bench couldn’t get things going in the second quarter and they got a distant lead.”
The team will bounce back, right? Wrong, the Hawks dominated the game wire-to-wire and shot over 50% from the field. The Lakers did not win any quarter and had to rely too much on Kobe. He had 20 of the Lakers 45 points at the half and once again the bench was a non-factor, as they scored 3 points.
The game followed a similar trend and the Hawks cruised past the Lakers 109-92. Kobe had 28 points and Pau had 16 with 11 rebounds. On the other hand, the Hawks had seven players in double digits, including Joe Johnson with 25 points.
The Lakers did not finish the road trip undefeated, but actually went 2-3; losing to the Thunder, Hornets and Hawks. The Lakers did not show up for most of the games and were swept away with the opponents’ intensity. The teams’ lackadaisical play is leaving them a victim of jokes. People are questioning them as a legit threat to the Magic or Cavaliers.
But luckily Friday’s game against the Jazz was one of the best performances of the season as the Lakers won 106-92. The return to Staples Center had the Lakers jump to a 19 point lead in the first with 63% shooting.
However, the Lakers let the Jazz creep back into the game and by halftime the lead was down to 9; Lamar led the Lakers with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
The Jazz kept fighting and eventually cut the lead down to 4 in the final period. Then, Lamar Odom took over the game and put the Lakers ahead for good. He finished the game with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
The game was very promising and the Lakers were clicking on all cylinders. The 14 point win showed everyone this team is legit and should never be overlooked. In the past six games the Lakers have gone 3-3, with both amazing and pathetic games.
The latest struggles for the Lakers are very surprising, but not very concerning. Come playoff time, the teams’ priorities should be set and the postseason should get them focused. However, if the bench can not compete with the opponent, and only score 5 to 10 points; the Lakers may face many hard times.
The panic button should not be pressed yet, but if this play continues then we have to find one… fast.
Follow Ramneet Singh on Twitter @RamneetKB24.