These Lakers Have Lost Before the Game Even Begins

Where do we go from here?

That’s the question I had to ask myself repeatedly following the Lakers’ second consecutive “end-of-the-world” loss.

Remember that win last Sunday? I don’t blame you if you don’t, as it seems about as distant as the planet Saturn at this point. When the Lakers beat the powerful Miami Heat it was supposed to be a turning point. It was supposed to be that game we look back on in a few months and say, “that was the game.”

Now?

It’s the game that the Lakers won against a Chris Bosh-less Heat team.

Usually, following a loss there are positives to take from it. There are things you can look at and say to yourself, at least that worked out. At least we did that right. At least we didn’t have a 21-point lead over an eight-win team and then dump it down the drain like a teenager trying to erase the contents of a forbidden bottle of liquor before his parents walk in.

On Wednesday night there was none of that. Not a single positive aspect. And, honestly, why would there be?

Now, I already know what you’re thinking.

But Daniel, the Lakers played well in the first half. They made some nice plays. If not for a late game collapse they would have won.

So?

I don’t want to take anything away from the Wizards, because they earned that win Wednesday night, but this is an NBA team that would have trouble winning the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament. This is a Wizards team that only has nine more wins on the season than I do. This is a Wizards team that the Lakers should be able to beat in their sleep. And they didn’t.

And, to make matters worse, it’s not just that they lost the game, but how they lost it. They had a 21-point lead. Two years ago a Lakers 21-point lead meant ice on knees, butts on chairs, and Phil Jackson trying not to doze off in his lumbar-friendly throne-chair.

This season a 21-point lead means the next day I get to write an article about how the Lakers coughed away a 21-point lead. Trust me, it’s not as fun.

But what upsets me more is what happens when you begin to break down the loss further. When I try to dissect what exactly happened, and how the Lakers managed to turn a guaranteed win into Chernobyl on the hardwood.

The fact is, the Lakers didn’t lose this game on the court. They lost it between the ears. They lost it on the sideline. They lost it the second they thought they had done enough to win.

I don’t want to sit here and get into what needs to happen to the team or possible remedies for the Lakers. I’m not going to talk about trades they should make or free agents they should sign. I’m going to talk about the biggest problem facing the Lakers right now. It’s not their point guard or small forward. It’s not their shot selection or seemingly incessant desire to turn the ball over. It’s their preparation.

And in case you can’t read between the lines, that’s code for their coaching.

The bottom line is that this isn’t a team that comes to the arena prepared on a nightly basis. Most of the time they look lost on the floor. Far too often they stand around with looks of confusion, hoping somebody else answers the question they have no solution to. They have problems that are usually reserved for rookies and Darko Milicic.

When a team doesn’t show up to a game prepared to play it’s not the players’ fault. It’s the coaches. As the coach of a team it is your job to make sure your players have the necessary knowledge and motivation to go out on the court and execute properly. They’re not always going to play well, and they certainly aren’t going to win every game. But even a team with very little talent can beat a team with a lot of talent if the preparation and disparity between their coaches is that severe.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the results of last night’s game.

Far too often we see this Lakers team looking like a deer, frozen in the headlights of an oncoming truck. They don’t know what to do when they have the ball, and have even less of a clue when they don’t have it.

You know how many players attack the basket on a consistent basis for this team?

One.*

You know how many players stand around the perimeter and take contested jumpers, often times while being double-teamed?

More than one.**

That’s a problem.

So where are the people that are supposed to be fixing this problem? Where are the men who are paid millions of dollars to make sure the Lakers’ players know what the hell their role is on this team?

Where is Mike Brown?

Following Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards, Brown stated that the Lakers were a good team that wasn’t playing good basketball.

Okay. I agree with that.

But, you want to know something, Mike? It’s your job to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Championship teams are commonly the group of players that does the best job of handling adversity and overcoming it. There isn’t a single championship team in the history of Earth that hasn’t had their fair share of set backs. But, each of those teams has managed to shake it off and persevere.

This Lakers team doesn’t strike me as the type of team that can do that.

They strike me as the team that throws in the towel the second the cards are stacked against them.

Hell, these last two games they seemed to do that even when they were holding the best hand.

Unfortunately, the Lakers look like the player that ends up mucking the winning cards because he was too ashamed to show the rest of the table what he had. There is no sense of pride. No sense of desire. Basically, no sense of emotion at all.

I’m tired of the excuses. I’m tired of hearing about vetoed trades and a lack of practices due to the lockout. I’m tired of hearing Mike Brown try and convince me that the team needs to work on their mindset.

With the front office currently in a state of fluctuation I don’t really know what to expect regarding trades and possible roster moves. But in reality, I don’t care. The lack of a trade isn’t what is so frustrating. It’s the fact that the team has already lost before they take the floor because they don’t have the necessary tools to build a fully-operational machine. And again, that comes down to coaching.

I’m not mad that the Lakers have lost two games they should have won. It happens to everyone. I’m mad because they’re showing up on Sunday to a race that was run on Saturday.

It’s time for the team to start getting to the race on time. Don’t you agree?

*Matt Barnes
**All other players

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