Unpredictable, this season’s Laker team. At times, we marvel at their intelligence, their savvy and their will to win. Unforgettable road victories against rival Boston, a strong Utah squad and a veteran Spurs group were enough to keep the doubters at bay. Other times, however, we are bewildered by their ignorance, apathy and arrogance. Embarrassing losses to Cleveland at home, against a young and energetic Oklahoma City team, and now this, a loss to a New Orleans team who isn’t even Playoff worthy.

Phil Jackson’s hope for a 5-0 road trip were lost when the Thunder showed the Lakers the magnitude of their talent and undeniable drive. What some considered a small blemish to a Western Conference leading record after a strong win against Houston, is now, again, a serious source of concern for anyone remotely tied to this Lakers team.

A 4-1 road record would have sufficed, if not for the lowly Hornets, who have nothing to play for, but beat a Lakers team who used to look like they had something to play for. That loss to the Thunder, and tonight to the Hornets (among other 18 losses), showed one thing  — this Lakers team is eight games away from the Playoffs and they still haven’t figured themselves out.

The game appeared well-handled in the first quarter with Pau Gasol and Ron Artest scoring the majority of the Lakers’ points. Pau was especially aggressive offensively, snatching offensive rebounds for second chance points and making the Hornets defense pay with his quickness and length. With 26 points and 22 rebounds, it appeared early on that Pau was going to carry this team to a victory.

Kobe, double-teamed often as soon as he touched the ball, didn’t force himself into his offense, choosing instead to find open men like Pau, for easy attempts. Kobe ended the evening with a valiant 31 points and 6 assists, though he would have collected more dimes had teammates like Derek Fisher, hit wide open threes.

Ron Artest chipped in 14 points and Lamar Odom had a quiet 10-8 game. Other than these four starters, however, no one else in a Laker uniform contributed much. There was a disparate contribution in scoring, small but vain offerings of defense, no energy, and no purpose on the floor. But the heat was there… in the form of frustration.

Phil has been calling timeouts sooner than he usually does, refusing to trust his team to figure themselves out. The game was filled with blown defensive assignments for the Lakers and in one timeout, after a David West uncontested dunk, Phil was so angry, he yelled before any players on the floor even approached the bench. The frustration in the coaching staff’s faces is obvious, even in short glances on TV. Between Brian Shaw and Sasha Vujacic’s reported scuffle, to Phil having no words to explain his team’s inability to play with a concerted effort, what this team needs right now is something they cannot have — more time.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Lakers got to within six points, having previously trailed by 17, after a Jordan Farmar lay-up and a putback by Kobe after the missed free throw by Jordan. The win was more than attainable, but the Lakers seemed to be missing their fight. After the 5th foul call on Kobe, he approached the bench and introduced his fist to the chair. Was it because of the foul he didn’t agree with? The missed opportunity to close in and take the game? Yes and yes, and who could blame him?

It appears the Lakers have found something in common with two of their rivals, the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics. When they win, they often win convincingly, a veteran team who knows how it’s done. They’re regaled, headlines with the terms “comeback” and “hitting their stride” are written in their favor. When they lose, they’re called old, overrated and are compared to the flashier, younger teams of Orlando, Cleveland and Atlanta.

With eight games left in the regular season, and the playoffs looming right behind, the Lakers have to choose which team we’ll be writing and talking about when the NBA season ends — the old and apathetic players who think they can just get by this time around, or the defending Champion veteran team who fights for every game they play? Hopefully, it’s the latter.

Pre-game Thoughts: More quick point guards… great.

Half-time Thoughts: Lakers have to play catch up… AGAIN.

Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Bench — outscored by the Hornets’ bench 41-12. There are 8 games left in the season. When are you boys going to show your worth to this team?

Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Kobe Bryant, with 31 points, 6 assists and five rebounds, seemed to be the only one fighting for his team.

  • Marwan Marzina

    What to say? IS there anything to say? Same old crap. The bench is again outscored and a no-show. What's next on the agenda?
    I seriously cant wait for the off season. I wanna see the moves Mitch pulls off because any move would be great considering its the bench we're talking about. We need to get rid of the dead weight on the bench. No contributions made from them. Other than Lamar and Shannon, who else do we have? Just a 7 man rotation?

    • Laker4 Life

      The Lakers bench is just not listening to phil. It's like they don't care what the coach is telling them. I also can't wait for the off season. Mitch better do something. The lakers need to trade sasha, farmar, luke, and morrison. Those 4 are mediocre players.

      • thefaze

        Get your info right. After the season, Farmar is a restricted free agent, and Morrison is a free agent. They won't be signed unless they're desperate. NO ONE will pick up Luke in a trade unless we send along Kobe as well. Just check out Luke's contract numbers…

  • KaNa

    Our bench is bad, our pgs are bad, our defense is bad, our 3 pt shooting is bad! BAD BAD BAD for the playoffs…

  • airkobe

    nothing to say but to wait for the play-off.!

  • Parker

    Don't look for a parade this year these guys do not want it. Its the same excuse after every loss and this team is not good enough to turn it on in the Playoffs. They cannot maintain speed, the bench sucks and their overall body languange says it all. Like the caller to 710 espn stated this team is just not that good PERIOD. We just all wanted to believe they were an believe me it will be the same thing Weds when they face Atl, they will be start the game coming from behind and turn it on in the waning minutes as they always do. I hate to vent but it is gone beyond ridiculous and i am tired of seeing the lifeless effort. There will be major shakeups next season to this team if these guys do not pull it together.

  • Craig_J

    I”m just as frustrated as any die hard Lakers fan..and i tried to be optomistic through this rough stretch but i gotta say, things aren't looking good right now. Lets face it..the Cavs are the best team in the Association..and if Lebitch James and his fat ass teamate shaq make it to the finals…i wouldn't bet on this Lakers team the way they are playin now. But, if there is a bright side..at least Denver (our biggest threat in the west) is struggling. Boy have they fallen!!

  • Real Talk

    This is it CLEAR THE BENCH THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS IN THE OFFSEASON,,,,,except L-O & maybe Shannon Brown. I rather some hungry D-League guys thats gonna play like they need a NBA check. 41-12 its PATHETIC. Fisher gotta go too.

    • thefaze

      Shannon Brown? You want to keep his sorry ass? He can't even run the full triangle because he's dumb!

  • Won A Ring For The King

    Looks like my prediction of a Lakers 2-3 trip was accurate after all. “Chillaz”, where are you? Let's discuss this. Most polled fans on this site said a 5-0, showing again how little we know about this Laker team. It's going to get ugly in the ATL…

  • lakers2000

    I don't think I want to watch any more games until the play offs! I have never been so pissed! This team is starting to look like the one that the phukin Celtics made a mockery of. I know, some of you idiots will call me band wagon, but I am starting to wonder if our chemistry may be tainted. Why do unknowns have career games against us (especially point guards, go figure). I will continue to drive my truck with my Laker Country sign in the back window and hope that we pull this back together soon. Go Lakers & phuk Lebitch and Cleveland!

    • Craig_J

      from now on, thats how we'll adress that guy in cleveland!! Let it be known…his name is LeBitch, LeBrick, or Lebronze James!!!!!!

    • jonb

      actually i MISS the one the celtics made a “mockery” of. Last night i did something i HAVENT DONE IN 3 YEars; i walked away at the end of the third and didnt care about the end result. Theyre not even a joy to watch anymore. I said at the trade deadline that our bench sucks, we cant defend pgs (but we all knew that), and we have no outside pure shooters, and were seeing it more and more but i HOPE it stops by mid april (i doubt it). Kobe looks fatigued and weary and they just look like they dont seem to CARE. Is it merely the fact that the seasons ending and we've secured the west and wont catch cleveland and thus the lakers are just playing because they have to??? I hope so…yes again…but i have a feeling its going to get ugly in ATL…

    • KindSir

      Dude, I've lost count of how many times as a status update on facebooks that I've said something like “congratulations to the latest player to set a career high against the lakers” and yea, most of the time it does happen to be a point guard. A lot of people will come here and defend our guards, but the truth is when your pg's cant defend then it messes everything up. With pg's always blowing by our guards someone has to come help and pick him up, which means that somebody else is wide open for an easy bucket (be it a 3 pt shooter or a big inside). I mean freakin beno udrih had something like 17 assists against us earlier this season right? And I know Kobe is God around here, but his roaming defense annoys the shit out of me. How many times does the person that he's supposed to be guarding hit wide open 3's because he's nowhere to be found???? Ugh this season is so frustrating. And no I'm not a bandwagon fan, I've been a fan for as long as I can remember. Being such a big fan though they seriously piss me off like no other. I know how talented this team is and what they're capable of, yet it seems like they just don't give a shit anymore.

      • lakers2000

        Amen brother. I completely feel your pain. I believe, if this team does not make the finals, that shit is going to hit the fan! It is causing me to drink them into looking good (it's not working, of course). Please Lakers!!!!! Wake up and smell the trophy. The Laker Nation is counting on you. Please don't let Shaq get another one either. I will puke if Lebron wins this year. I'll bring the gas. Let's get this fire going. Burn mother flipper, burn. Go Lakers!!!!!

  • KindSir

    “When they win, they often win convincingly” is definitely a false statement. I'd say most of the time we just get on by. At NO point in this season have the Lakers looked like a dominant team, blowing out their opponents several games in a row. This team just doesn't care enough. They won last year and that was good enough for them. It's kind of pathetic watching them now :'(

    • Anna

      Winning by a large deficit doesn't make you a dominant team. The Nets beat Sacramento by 14. Does that make them a dominant team? No, they suck. Even if you're playing from behind, and then win a game like the Lakers did in San Antonio or in Boston a few months ago, showed the team's strengths (mentally and physically). Even when the Lakers have beaten teams, any team by a lot of points, there's always a caveat, like they played a lottery team, or the team on the 2nd night of a back to back, etc. Even the win against SAC on New Year's Day. Yes, Kobe won the game with a buzzer beater, but the Lakers caught up from being behind by double digits. That's what I mean by convincingly. Getting the win in the end even when you're not playing your best.

      • johnb

        i dont think winning “in the end when you're not playing your best” should be considered winning convincingly. the only “convincing” win ive seen ALL SEASON from this team has been the thrashing of dallas at home in dec. but even then dallas was on the second night of a back to back. same old pathetic sorry to watch lakers lately last night. where did it all go wrong????? (im being sarcastic its pretty obvious where)….

        • KindSir

          Exactly John. Playing like crap the whole game, and then barely winning it at the end isn't a very convincing win. I guess blowouts are not necessary for a convincing win, but at least keeping control of the game, for the whole 48 mins is. That road trip last season where they beat the celtics and cavs was a dominant stretch by the team. Or like the first month and a half of last season when they were destroying everyone was a dominant stretch. No such thing this season. Even on their winning streaks this season they seem to just be squeaking on by.