The (46-17) Los Angeles Lakers are in Florida, attempting to avoid losing three straight games for the first time in two years in an NBA Finals rematch against the (43-20) Orlando Magic.
The Lakers have staggered through this road trip allowing a win to slip through their fingers against the Heat and an embarrassing effort in their annual struggle with the Charlotte Bobcats.
The recent losses suffered by the defending Champs can be attributed to the Lakers not playing like a defending Champion; not playing with a sense of urgency, not matching the intensity of their opponents, not taking care of the basketball, being allergic to the free throw line, settling for too many jump shots, and not enough bench support.
There is nothing more disgusting then seeing our Lakers beat themselves with mental mistakes.
The Lakers has had close games and struggled against the Heat and Bobcats for a few years, however that is no excuse for losing back-to-back games to a couple of .500 basketball teams.
They have several questions to answer, to include their now porous team defense as well as hearing and reading about them being written off as a team that will fall early in the playoffs. The questions are getting louder by the day and will continue to be out there until the Lakers consistently play well and silence their critics. It’s clear to see that the Lakers aren’t playing their best basketball, but the reality is that the team has 19 games to turn things around and start playing like a Champion.
These things will happen in a season, but this season the Purple and Gold are a team that plays better at home as oppose to on the road. The good news is that the squad realizes that they have a problem and are taking steps to correct them. Kobe sent a stern message to his teammates. By late afternoon we’ll find out if the message was received.
The road to repeating for the Lakers starts with their defense.
Against the Orlando Magic, the first thing the Lakers have to do is stay with Dwight Howard. Howard does an excellent job of running the floor and attacking the basket. The task of slowing him down will initially fall on Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol but in the end, it will have to be a team effort.
The moment Howard starts to dominate in the painted area is a prelude to opening the floodgates to several three point shots by the Magic. The Lakers have to defend the screen and roll action plays much better by stopping the dribble penetration of Jameer Nelson. The Lakers have to come out aggressive, play with a sense of urgency, not allow open looks, challenge every shot, and match the intensity of the Magic. This will take the crowd out of the game.
The front line of the Purple and Gold has to show up and have an impact on this game. During the losing streak their production has decreased. It is time for the Lakers front line to attack the basket and stop settling for jump shots. The Lakers need to take care of the ball, make better passes, keep a body on Dwight Howard and Matt Barnes, and control the boards. Against the Magic your defense has to extend out to the three point line.
It is time to see the Lakers play with passion on every possession and impose their will on the Magic. The Lakers need an inspired effort from everyone sporting Purple and Gold gear. The playoff run starts today for the Lakers, I think the team is ready to show the they have the heart of a Champion.
Tip-off: 11:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ABC
- Orlando: ABC
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Orlando: Newstalk AM 580 WDBO (Dennis Newman & Richie Adubato)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion fracture of right index finger, elbow & back)
- Sasha Vujacic (Sprained Right Shoulder) Out
- Luke Walton (Back) Out
- Ron Artest (Sprained Left Thumb)
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
- None to report.