After their second fourth-quarter collapse in three games, the Lakers found themselves searching for answers. While not any one player was the cause of the loss, it seemed that most players were having trouble accepting the blame.
A late turnover from Pau Gasol led to Kevin Durant’s game-winning three-point shot. According to the L.A. Times, following the game Kobe Bryant stated that Gasol made the wrong decision.
“It was a bad read,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said about Gasol’s turnover. “It was a bad read on Pau’s part.”
Bryant failed to mention the fact that he shot just 20 percent in the fourth quarter. But in Bryant’s defense, it’s not like Gasol was taking responsibility, either.
“(Bryant) got 38 points. Its a big night individually. We look at this as a whole. It’s not about one player missing a couple shots or turning the ball over, whatever it is. We have to look at it so we don’t put ourselves in that position again so we get some better looks, better balance, better flow and better ball movement.”
Oh, boy. With the team facing a 3-1 hole heading into Game 5 back in Oklahoma City, it seems as if the wheels are beginning to come completely off the wagon. When players begin blaming one another instead of accepting responsibility, the end is usually near.
Still, Bryant and Gasol weren’t the only players who had no trouble pinpointing what they believed the cause of the loss was. Center Andrew Bynum, who has had no problem sharing his opinion over the course of the post-season, shared his reasoning for why the Lakers couldn’t hold onto their lead Saturday.
“I couldn’t get the ball. I wasn’t part of the game,” Bynum said. “We need to slow down the game, go side to side. We can cut them to pieces. You can’t keep running the same plays.”
Even though Bynum doesn’t name names, it’s very apparent who he’s talking about. The Lakers stagnant offense in the fourth quarter was almost exclusively Kobe Bryant in isolation. While at times Bryant did move the ball, far too often he took contested shots that led to transition opportunities for the Thunder.
There was one player who had no trouble accepting blame after the loss, and it might be a bit of a surprise. It was the player that was deemed selfish for getting himself suspended for the first round of the playoffs. It was the player who was the target of Gasol’s late-game turnover that allowed the Thunder to get the victory.
“I support him,” World Peace said. “I’ll take the blame. Maybe I should’ve cut. He saw me open, I should’ve cut. It’s my fault.”
With the season on the line Monday night in Oklahoma City, the Lakers need more of that, and maybe focus on coming together rather than ripping each other apart.