Getty Images | Photo by Jeff Gross

It was an all-too-familiar scene, and we’ve witnessed it in the last two games – the Lakers unable to get anything going offensively so it turns into a whole lot of Kobe Bryant and very little of everyone else. When that has to happen, the end result is not always a favorable one for the Lakers and tonight was no exception as a second 2-game losing streak this season has emerged.

There is more bad than good to report from this game. For one, scoring droughts hindered the Lakers tonight. It took almost four minutes before they scored on Matt Barnes’ (7 points on 3-6) layup in the second quarter (he actually scored the team’s first seven points of that quarter) and almost four minutes before a made field goal in the third on Lamar Odom’s layup. The best offensive team in the league, the Lakers shot just 39% in this game. And the best three-point shooting team in the NBA, the Lakers went 7-23 from behind the arc. Shooting slumps will happen and there isn’t cause to stir panic now, but the problem for the team tonight wasn’t simply missed shots, it was their lack of ball movement.

In both the Utah and tonight’s game, the Lakers were beaten in two categories in which they excel – assists and rebounds. With Bryant leading the way, assists were indeed scarce because he ran isolation plays for the majority of his scoring, but before he went on his offensive raid, the team still couldn’t, or maybe chose not to, run any sets. With little to no ball movement, the Lakers created nothing but empty possessions. Pair that with poor offensive rebounding and they had scarcely any second chance opportunities to score. The Pacers’ second chance points? 19 big ones.

As wrong as it is to depend on Bryant (41 points on 14-33, five rebounds, four assists) to shoulder the offensive load, it was and is spectacular to watch when the Mamba is let loose. Just as he did in Utah, Bryant found ways to score from just about anywhere, against just about anybody, with however much or little was left on the clock. He hit two free throws, then hit a three. He hit another pair of free throws, then followed that with a three again. A stepback fadeaway here, another free throw there, and a driving over the right shoulder layup to end his 15-point quarter…simply amazing.

Unfortunately, Bryant was about the only amazing thing tonight, though Lamar Odom did get 15 points on 6-10 (2-2, 3PT), not to mention 11 rebounds. He had a satisfactory game, but did not appear as aggressive as he did when the season began, and part of it might be fatigue. He played just over 40 minutes tonight.

And speaking of minutes, talk about Pau Gasol, who had 45 and half minutes of floor time and he was outplayed by Indiana’s Roy Hibbert for most of those minutes. Darko Milicic did it. Joakim Noah did it. And tonight, it was Hibbert’s turn to defend and score against the Laker forward and boy was he successful, scoring 24 points on 9-13, 12 rebounds and six assists. Gasol went just 5-15 from the field to reach his 13 points, managed to grab 12 rebounds, but he also led the game in turnovers with five. His defense, which pales in comparison to his offensive efficiency (not counting tonight, that is), has yet to appear even remotely capable of stopping anyone.

With the Lakers behind by three, Gasol couldn’t stop guard T.J. Ford from penetrating and getting to the hoop. And then, behind by a mere point, Gasol allowed Roy Hibbert an uncontested dunk to give the Pacers a lead that home team would fail to overcome. Phil Jackson cites fatigue as a source for Gasol’s struggles but it’s more than that. He’s gotten outplayed on both ends of the floor by almost every center he’s faced, and they’ve occurred not just in the end of games, but the whole game, and these opponents aren’t exactly All-Star caliber players. He has yet to face Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal. Andrew Bynum’s return, whenever that is, will be a welcome sight for everyone, especially Gasol.

The bench continued its subpar play tonight. They were outscored by Indiana’s bench 24-14. As in their last loss, the reserves were barely a factor and it’s safe to say their contribution to earn wins is invaluable.

In his post-game interview, Phil Jackson said that in the very first time out called, he had to tell the team to play harder because they were getting outhustled by the Pacers. It’s a real shame the coach feels the need to remind a 2-time defending Championship team to play harder and one hopes it’s not a request that the coaching staff has to make again for the rest of this season.

The Lakers are off to Memphis to play the Grizzlies on Tuesday. Maybe a game against his brother, Marc, will light a fire under Pau Gasol to play tougher. If he continues to struggle defensively, don’t think for a second that “soft” label will delay its return.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
Shake off the Utah loss. That game was fraught with error from various sources. Time to check Danny Granger and the Pacers.
Half-time Thoughts: 51-45 – The Lakers barely played in the first half. They’re getting outrebounded, they’re not moving the ball and they just don’t look interested in playing properly. Kobe leading all scores with 18 on 6-14. Pau Gasol with just six points on 3-8. Lamar Odom 4-4 (2-2 from 3PT) with 10 points.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Pau Gasol – He began the season so confident and so solid but there’s no denying how remedial his defense has turned.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Kobe Bryant – He did everything he could to help the Lakers get a win, but he needed help and help never came.

  • trem

    Embarrassing loss. Kobe said it all in the postgame presser, defense is what matters most. Time to get back to basics and focus!!!

  • LBCaliDro

    Lakers need a C/Pf. Gasol & Odom are playing way to many minutes & Bynum ain’t coming until 3 weeks, thats too long of a wait. I don’t get why the Lakers have those two rookies they ain’t going to help, should of kept Mbenga. DJ may not have been great but he hustled & was a big body that always tried to block shots. I don’t care about the regular season, I just don’t want Pau & Lamar worn out come March. Anyways Go Lakers! & Kobe is one bad mutha fuccckkka!!!

  • Robert.

    Phil commented that Lamar did not get enough touches, which is true. He might have scored more, but actually did fine considering.
    .
    Another thing – Kobe missed a few ‘layups’, which is unusual for Kobe. He also missed a few in the Jazz game. It means something isn’t right – he is still playing injured.
    .
    But to look at the good side of this game – they did not lose by much. In fact, all their losses are by a few points, if I’m not mistaken. Which means they could have easily been on the ‘winning’ side of those games.
    .
    And recall that the Pacers ‘blew out’ Denver, a few weeks ago. The Lakers will probably never be blown out. They will manage to stay in games. We’ll see how the Celtics and heat games transpire.

  • J.dizzle

    I LOL at fans who are mad at a regular season loss in November..Sometimes you go on a Laker forum & they act like this team is the Clippers or something..If I recall, havent they been to the finals three years straight & won back-2-back titles? Big deal, sometimes your players dont show up. You can already tell the lack of bigs is hurting the defense bigtime..Pau is a great offensive player but he is not the player you want at C but thats all they have right now..Once Bynum returns the opponents won’t have a red carpet to the rim. He actually knows what a hard foul is. Pau at PF is his natural position so he’ll be a lot more comfortable there..Wish they kept Mbenga over signing 77 year old Ratliff though haha

  • Indy Mac-Daddy

    Does Kobe have to whine and cry about every single call? What a baby!!!!!

    • lakerman1

      Most of them do it not just Kobe. The refs are only human and cannot make every call a player wants. if they are getting hammered ok but every touch or bump foul cannot possibly be called. Don’t just pick on Kobe, look around the league dude.

      • Indy Mac-Daddy

        Other players do complain but it was sweet to see Kobe give up on a play after he was “fouled.”

    • LakersFirst

      Its ok, the Lakers are going to kick Indy’s a** in Indianapolis. After the Lakers beat them down in Indy, the Pacers will be as hopeless as Indy Mac Bank.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kevinsmoore Moorepower310

    This lose might be good for the Lakers. Help them realize that they need to come mentally prepared to every game. Don’t stress guys, we only won 57 games last year and we all know how that turned out!

  • rasta028

    it’s a loooooong season, they’ll get it going.

  • sancho

    Gasol is getting tired late in the games. I have said all along…”We Need Some Bigs”

    • lakerman1

      You can tell when he makes little or no effort to go after rebounds or block shots or when smaller players are knocking him to the ground but he is largely the reason the lakers have been to the finals 3 times so lets not knock him too much. He is playing out of his natural position which Andrew will fill whenever he returns and as rasta028 says its long season and the Lakers have played more then their share the last few.

  • lakersno834

    I don’t like the white uniforms. We usually don’t play well in them. Also we are not beating tougher teams this year so far. That’s that. 2nd unit plays good 1 in 5 games. Phil needs to call timeouts in the final seconds to set up a good play.

  • http://www.deluxpro.com 3PeatOC

    We learn more from our losses than our victories.

    • LakerNationCitizen

      WORD.

  • Ruin818

    Better than being 9-8… We’re fine… Thanksgiving distractions. But I did not agree with Kobe intentionaly running into Phil like that.. Oh wait.. that wasnt Kobe or Phil.. my bad…LMAO

    • Genius

      ahaha r u sure that wasnt kobe or phil !? ohh wait that was the guy with the black uniform and lakers dont have black uniforms,,so yah maybe your right xD

  • sasha4lvp

    I am not worried at all. I won’t be worried even if the Lakers only win 50 games this year. The Lakers are just cruising until the playoffs start. When you win 2 straight championships, who cares about the regular season? The best part is that the Lakers will still win the west even in cruise mode. That is how good the Lakers are and that’s how confident I am about my team.

    • Pillzmayn

      If they have 50 win they probably don’t even make the playoffs last year the Thunder had 50 win and they were 8th seed. This year the west is stronger and plus in a serie against the spurs with the HCA to the Spurs I’m worried.

    • Robert.

      This ain’t your granddaddy’s spurs. In fact, the Spurs could be your grandaddys by now. Sure they’re having a strong start, but they won’t have as much juice come playoff time. Same with the Celtics. (unless they pace themselves).
      .
      The Lakers are up to 4 championship runs in a row now (amazing, isn’t it?). I don’t know any team that has had that (in history?). Not even the 90s Bulls. This is new territory. Kobe isn’t going to take 2 years off to play for a baseball team (and hence, get a ‘milder’ workout). Plus, he has worked hard through the Olympics as well.
      .
      It’s gonna be tough for the Lakers this year, simply because of the number of Championship runs. They ‘cannot afford’ to hustle their brains out now. They HAVE to pace themselves. Simple as that.
      .
      And, given that they did not really play their best against the Pacers this time, they sure as heck had a close game. Same with Suns, Denver, Jazz.

    • Robert.

      Oh, sorry, forgot about the 60s Celtics, who had a string of consecutive title runs. The 60 Lakers also had several championship runs too.

  • max

    we shouldn’t worry,it’s Nov, We are the Champions and if Miami has a bulls eye ,imagine us?Laker fans be assured,come playoffs, no one is going to want to face us if we’re 1 seed or 8th.Everything changes comes playoffs time,we’re a different team,different monster,same outcome!Sit back enjoy,entertain yourselves,and expect and welcome the new challenges,nevertheless WE ARE STILL THE WORLD CHAMPIONS LOS ANGELES LAKERS!!

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