The Lakers dropped to #17 in the Power Rankings this week after a loss to Orlando. Their surprising performance after an excellent game against the Nuggets just nights before has many fans confused. And nervous. The top of the ranking contain the Spurs at #1 with Miami close after. The Thunder, Grizzlies, and Nets come in at #3, #4, and #5 respectively.
Last night’s loss was due to two dysfunctional areas; passion and Dwight’s free throw shooting. It seemed as though the boys in Purple and Gold stepped onto the court without ferocity, assuming that they would of course win this game against an inferior Orlando team. There was a lack of hustle, and everyone was playing at 75 percent. Lakers guards kept getting caught in screens, and were slow to break free towards the basket. Orlando shooters were left open, as if to seemingly taunt them. However, instead of missing shots, the Magic kept making them. And then there were the big men, who in general, played weak defense. Add that to Dwight not hitting the majority of his free throws in the fourth quarter (he only hit nine of 21 overall), and you have a problem.
Mike D’Antoni hasn’t rubbed me the wrong way yet this season. Unfortunately, he did yesterday. By not removing Howard last night when Magic coach Jacque Vaughn opted to intentionally foul Dwight in the last six minutes of the fourth, knowing the big man would miss his shots, I saw D’Antoni’s first major coaching strategy flaw. It was an unacceptable coaching move, one that was very risky and didn’t pay off.
The one saving grace last night was Kobe Bryant who played, like he always does, aggressively and with a winner’s mentality. The Lakers currently stand at 8-9, and Kobe isn’t having it.
Bryant spoke to Fox Sports West after the loss to the Magic and expressed his frustration with how the Lakers are playing.
“I’ll kick everybody’s *** in this locker room if it doesn’t happen,” Bryant said. “It’s the attitude you have to have. Metta (World Peace) is the same way. Dwight (Howard) has it in him as well. Even though he smiles a lot, he cares a lot about this. Come hell or high water, this has to get done.”
Injury Update. Steve Nash has missed 15 games so far, and will continue to sit on the bench. The Lakers will play the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder this week, and even though Nash will make the trip, he will not play. Meanwhile, Steve Blake is set to undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle, which will bench him for 6-8 weeks. Things are still not looking good for the Lakers point guard spot.
This coming Friday night, a watch party for this showdown between the Lakers and Thunder will be held at ESPN Zone at L.A. Live. The watch party will be hosted by Lakers legend Michael Cooper and Jay Flats. All proceeds will benefit the Lakers Youth Foundation, with a silent auction being held for Lakers memorabilia as well as a raffle for prizes. Check out the press release here.
In honor of the Lakers constantly keeping their fans on the edge of their seats, for better or worse, Lakers Nation has a new t-shirt; Keep Calm and Win Rings. Get yours now.
Lakers Nation News
Steve Blake to Undergo Surgery [Silver Screen and Roll]
Dwight Howard’s Meeting Against Orlando Goes Off Script [Inside the Lakers]
Steve Nash Out at Least Another Week, Says He Has “Small Improvement” [ProBasketballTalk]
Another Late Night Call [LA Times]
Steve Nash Pencils Himself Out for Lakers’ Three-Game Trip [Inside the Lakers]
Kobe Bryant calls out Pau Gasol [ESPN]
Video: Metta World Peace Drives By Half the Magic for Dunk [ProBasketballTalk]
Dwight Must Learn to Be More Like Kobe [OC Register]
Rapid Reaction: Magic 113, Lakers 103 [Lakers Index]
Video: Big Baby Rejects Pau Gasol Dunk Attempt [ProBasketballTalk]
Benched Again, Pau Gasol Still Looking to Fit In [Lakers Blog]
Lakers/Magic: Lakers Fall Apart Down the Stretch…Again [Forum Blue and Gold]
Listless Lakers Lose as Howard Misfires [OC Register]
Charley Rosen Says Lakers Lied About Phil Jackson [Sheridan Hoops]
Kobe Bryant; “I’ll kick everybody’s ass in this locker room” to Turn Team Around [ProBasketballTalk]
Steve Blake to Undergo Abdominal Surgery [Inside the Lakers]
Chandler Says Olympics Made ‘Melo Better Player This Year [ProBasketballTalk]
Michael Jordan Busted for Shorts [ESPN]
Barnes Learning From ‘The Logo’ [YouTube]
An Inside Look at Rondo: To Play With Him is to Know Him [NBC Sports]
NBA Power Rankings: Heat, Thunder on Top, it Feels Like 2011 [ProBasketballTalk]
Don’t Call LeBron James a Power Forward [Heat Index]
Collison Doesn’t Feel He Got a Fair Showing in Dallas [Hang Time Blog]
Josh McRoberts Fitting in With Orlando [ESPN]
Top 10 MVP Candidates So Far [FOX]
Public Support for Our Young Players [Ted’s Take]
Majerus’ Hoops Impact, Friendships Transcended NBA, NCAA Lines [Hang Time Blog]
NBA Weekend Scoreboard: Miami Drops Brooklyn [SB Nation]
Avery Bradley “Very Close” to Return [Celtics Blog]
Michael Jordan’s Airwaves TV Show from ’89 [YouTube]
Durant and Westbrook are Passing the Test [Welcome to Loud City]