PLAYING UNDER PRESSURE: After their longest losing streak in three years, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have to get their offensive synergy back in track as they sit only a few games of the surging Dallas Mavericks (Jeff Lewis for Sentinel)
Lakers lacking urgency since All-Star Break
Lack of offense, not defense is glaring issue in latest efforts
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Contributing Writer
On one hand it appears that the Lakers suffer from a lack of urgency. At times it looks like they do not really care about the regular season. Like they are just going through the motions.
That was very evident in their embarrassing 15-point loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, in a game where the Lakers did not even show. They trailed by double digits for a good amount of the game.
The Lakers seem to believe that the regular season does not mean all that much, but Kobe Bryant must not believe that because he chastised his teammates in a closed door players only meeting before their game against the Orlando Magic.
Bryant's teammates seemed to take his words to heart because their efforts against the Magic was much greater, but in the end it was still a loss, which makes it look like this team is not the world beaters that everybody thought they were.
A lot of people are starting to rethink the notion that the Lakers are going to cruise through the Western Conference come playoff time. The Lakers are on their first three game losing streak in over two years, and simply playing tough is not getting the job done.
The criticism has been on the Lakers defense, but that may not be where the problem lies.
Defensively the Lakers have been better than the past two seasons, and over the past 13 games they have only allowed one opponent to score over 100 points through four periods. The Miami Heat scored 114 points against the Lakers, but that game went into overtime. At the end of the fourth period the Heat has 99 points.
The only team to score over 100 points through four periods against the Lakers over that stretch was the Dallas Mavericks, who scored 101 points.
This season the Lakers are 7th in the league in scoring defense, giving up 96.5 points per game. Last season, when they won the NBA title, they were 13th in defense, giving up 99.3 points per game. Two years ago, when they won the Western Conference they were 19th in defense, giving up 101.3 points per game.
The Lakers have fixed their weakness, so what is the problem? Why have they already lost more games than all of last season?
The answer is on the offensive end of the court. The Lakers are having their lowest scoring out put over the past three years. They are averaging 102.5 points per game, which is 6th in the league.
Those are pretty good numbers, but consider that they averaged 106.9 points per game on their way to the NBA title, which was 3rd in the league. And two seasons ago they averaged 108.6 points per game, which was good for 4th in the league.
Over the past 13 games the Lakers scored over 100 points only four times, and one of those times they needed overtime to do it (against the Heat).
The Lakers scored over 100 points against through four quarters against the Indiana Pacers (24th ranked defense) and the Golden State Warriors (last in the league in defense).
The Lakers need to get back to lighting up the scoreboard. It's as simple as that. 100+ point nights were the norm earlier in the season, but over the pass month production has been low, even though the defense has played well.