A few weeks ago, we did a piece on if the LA Lakers were a playoff team or not. Our general consensus was that the Lakers were likely to make the playoffs because of the following:
1) Steve Nash wasn’t playing at the time.
2) LA was more talented than other teams chasing playoff spots.
3) The Lakers were only 1 1/2 games behind the West’s eighth seed.
4) Only a quarter of the NBA season had been played.
Well Steve Nash is back, the 2012-2013 NBA is over halfway finished, and LA is now 4 games behind Houston for the eighth seed. Following a 106-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, the Lakers are now eight games below .500. This being said, it’s starting to look questionable as to whether or not this team can really make the postseason.
Not surprisingly, Kobe Bryant isn’t happy about his team’s performance on the season. And Bryant was sounding more like a coach than player when he stated:
We need to go back to basics. We need to put guys in positions to do what they do best. We need to strip it down. Steve is best in pick-and-roll. Pau is best in the post. I’m best from the free-throw line extended down. Let’s go back to basics.
We’ve got to evaluate what’s going on. Management is looking at it. The players are looking at it. I’m looking at myself. I’m shooting a low percentage right now, and I’ve got to look at that. It’s on me to make shots, but I’m having to make tough shots, getting the ball 30 feet from the basket and (expletive) like that.
Besides discussing some of the general things that LA needs to do to change things around, Bryant also talked about Dwight Howard’s discontent on offense. Howard thinks he needs to touch the ball more, as evidenced by his declining scoring average. However, Kobe doesn’t quite agree with this since he said:
I’ve tried to go out of my way to get him the ball. Sometimes I end up looking like an idiot, because I get up in the air, I’ve got a shot, but I try to find him. But he thinks I’m going to shoot, so his back is turned. I’m trying to think about getting him the ball a lot – take care of him as much as I possibly can. It takes me out of rhythm a little bit, but I’m fine with that. If that’s going to help our team, I’m more than willing to do that.
Bryant and Howard aren’t the only two players who are frustrated during the LA Lakers trying times. Pau Gasol seems to have gotten the worst of the deal since he’s been forced to shift from center to power forward because of Howard’s arrival. The end result is that Gasol is shooting a career-low 43.1% from the floor while often playing outside the paint.
Thanks to his struggles, coach Mike D’Antoni replaced Gasol in the starting lineup with Earl Clark. We’re not sure if this is a designed motivational move to get Pau playing better, or D’Antoni truly thinks that Earl is a better fit in the starting lineup. Clark has provided a nice boost off the bench, but Gasol is a four-time All-Star who was part of two championship Lakers teams.
In any case, Bryant, Howard, Gasol and the rest of the Lakers need to find a solution to the team’s struggles sooner than later. If they don’t, this club could be among the NBA’s biggest bust in history….if not the biggest bust.