Here are a few aspects of last night’s 107-104 loss to the Rockets to analyze:
Rebounds – The Lakers were out-rebounded 40-31 (and 16-9 on the offensive glass) last night by the Rockets. For a team with two seven footers, this should never be the case. Even though Andrew Bynum was ejected the the third quarter, the big-man tandem of Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for just 11 rebounds. We all know they can both do better in that department, and they usually do.
Free Throws – The Rockets shot 11 more free throws than the rockets (the Lakers attempted 16, and the Rockets attempted 27). This is a combination of two things. On the defensive end, the Lakers didn’t play with their normal tenacity, giving up 107 points. Instead of committing to defense, they instead looked lazy at times and bailed out the Rockets. On the offensive end of the floor, they weren’t aggressive enough throughout the whole game.
The Lakers started out with great ball movement and put up big numbers, but weren’t able to sustain the effort. Much of the onus again falls on Bynum and Pau Gasol, who combined for just four free throw attempts. Both big men are extremely talented and hard to defend. Obviously, Bynum felt he wasn’t getting certain calls because he eventually got booted for likely being upset about not getting a foul call or two, but he and Gasol must continue to be aggressive despite not getting certain calls.
Road Woes/The Fire – We’ve touched on the road woes, as well as the lack of fire that the Lakers seem to have on the road. At home, the Lakers appear to have a certain passion and really thrive off the energy of the fans. However, as soon as they step foot on the road, they often play well, but manage to give up big leads to mediocre teams and lose.
There really seems to be no explanation for these mental lapses, but now the burden is on head coach Mike Brown to somehow spark his team on the road. Bad habits are just that–habits–and will not go away at the flip of a switch when the Lakers truly need it in the playoffs against a strong team like Oklahoma City or San Antonio. Whatever mental block the Lakers have when it comes to the road, it needs to stop now if they plan on going far in the postseason.
Ramon Sessions – Despite the tough loss, there was one bright spot for the Lakers: Ramon Sessions. Sessions is still getting acclimated with his new team, but appears to be learning quickly. He played nearly 29 minutes, and exhibited signs of brilliance at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He showed that he can shoot the ball, drive to the basket and finish, as well as set up his teammates, all in bunches. If he can expand on this going forward, he may prove to be an exceptional pickup for the Lakers.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, they still cannot find a way to put teams away on the road. However, they get another crack at it tonight as they are set to face off against the Dallas Mavericks.