The only thing in LA that shines brighter than the sun are the stars, especially on the Los Angeles Lakers. But with all this star power is it possible that the Lakers players and coaches have been blinded by their own light?
Don’t get me wrong; the Lakers have a right to be confident. They have arguably the most talent of any team in the NBA. This is a team of veteran and well-established athletes. Individually, an All-Star case could be made for each of the starting five (with a healthy Steve Nash). But as a team, sitting at a 9-11 record behind the not-so-little-brother Clippers and Golden State Warriors (excuse me what?), they can’t seem to get it together and keep it together.
The defense is lackluster. The energy is ludicrously inconsistent. Despite Kobe’s best efforts, the Lakers are letting wins slip away faster than you can say Hack-a-Howard. Where is the disconnect? Where is the accountability? Is it D’Antoni that should take more responsibility?
Contrary to preseason critiques that the Lakers lacked depth, they have found themselves with a pretty decent bench. Starting in place of an ailing Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison had 15 points, nine rebounds and pair of assists at Houston. Chris Duhon stepped up with 10 assists in the Lakers win over the New Orleans Hornets, playing his point guard role sufficient enough to get Kobe over the 30,000-point milestone (congrats Mamba). Yet, D’Antoni hasn’t been able to find a rotation that really works. In Sunday’s abysmal loss to the Orlando Magic, the ‘starters’ blew the lead late in the fourth and allowed Orlando a 12-2 run, giving the Magic a total of 40 points in the fourth quarter to win by convincing double digits. In Tuesday’s rollercoaster debacle at Houston, the Lakers led by 13 with ten minutes left in the game and- stop me if you’ve heard this before- with a 9-2 run, the Rockets fired past the purple and gold to victory. Glimpses of the potential this team has were seen in the Lakers roll over the New Orleans Hornets, but honestly New Orleans didn’t play all that well.
Perhaps it is too much to expect a three-week-old coach to be able to code this Lakers team properly. Maybe we still have to be patient while D’Antoni plugs in his playbook algorithms and crosschecks them with player stats to come up with a magic formula that will take us to the championship. Everyone seems to be holding their breath that the key number is in fact 10. That Nash and Steve Blake’s return will bring the Lakers team we have all been waiting for. That the dazed and confused look will be erased from D’Antoni’s face as his golden boy takes over. D’Antoni is lost without Nash. Just go review his accomplishments, or lack thereof, in New York.