What’s Wrong with the Lakers?
Two night's ago, the Los Angeles Lakers lost 95 to 83 to the Derrick Rose and Luol Deng-less Chicago Bulls, and fell to 17 and 24 at the midpoint of the NBA season. The Lakers are now 14.5 games back of the Clippers and are currently in 12 place, and the fourth team out of the playoff race in the Western Conference.
Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant had an awful night, as he shot 7 for 22 while scoring 16 points in 42 minutes. Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler shut him down and was the "Kobe stopper," but Butler said Bryant just had an off night and missed shots he normally makes.
For the Lakers though, it appears that the worse is just getting worst. The Bulls played excellent defense against the Lakers, as they held them to 3 of 17 from three-point range. Their shooting woes are just many of problems the Lakers have; they aren't winning. The Lakers in January have a .182 winning percentage and have lost nine out of eleven.
Kobe Bryant has to be frustrated, and has expressed his frustration when earlier this month, he said the Lakers are "old." It appears there is a lack of chemistry on the Lakers.
Bryant has tried to carry this team, and is averaging 22.1 shots per game, and it didn't help Monday when the Lakers got outscored by the Bulls, 26 to 14 in the fourth quarter.
Bryant isn't getting help from his stars around him, and getting outscored late in the fourth quarter puts more pressure on himself to take shots, and doesn't get the rest of the offense involved. For example, Dwight Howard had four minutes in the fourth quarter against the Bulls and Pau Gasol hasn't been himself as he is shooting jumpers and he is purely a center.
Bryant said after Monday's loss, he wants more time for Gasol, after Gasol came off the bench against the Bulls. However, Gasol said he isn't excited about that role. Perhaps that may be the best role, though. Jeff Van Gundy noted on SportsCenter that Manu Ginobili has come off bench in San Antonio and it has worked, so could it work in L.A.? After all, either Howard or Gasol are going to have to split time and make it work for the best for the Lakers or it may be time to depart with one of them.
I believe that part of the reason the Lakers are struggling is Mike D'Antoni doesn't know how to best use the Lakers roster. D'Antoni loves to run an up-tempo offense and this team cannot do it. He is using players like Gasol and taking him out of his comfort zone.
Whatever the Lakers do, it's going to have to take a whole team effort for the Lakers to get back into the playoff hunt and compete for a title to fulfill the expectations of a "super" team that was built in Los Angeles.
The Lakers hope to avoid a seventh straight road loss tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.