At this point in the season, the Lakers recent struggles essentially stem from one main point – complacency (easily one of the most feared mindsets of an NBA coach). It’s understandable for a team that has gone to the NBA Finals three years in a row to have a slight sentiment of superiority over the rest of the team’s in the league –that’s expected. Nevertheless, the Lakers’ struggles to possess energy and fire for a full 48 minute contest has proven to be at the root of their recent shortcomings.
Their complacency has also resulted in a mediocre defense and a ton of excuses (not necessarily by the Lakers themselves, but more so the fans). There’s no question the Lakers head into every game with the notion somewhere in their mind that they can dismantle whoever steps on the floor to challenge them. As frustrating as it is to see the Lakers take it easy for a quarter or two, then turn it on for the final period; that is the double-edged sword which stems from being a back-to-back champion and carrying one of the greatest players in NBA history on your roster with Kobe Bryant.
Numbers will be numbers ¬– and to be honest, the reasons for the Lakers’ losses will not show up in a lot of the numbers.
During their last four games (all losses) they are pulling down 41 rebounds per game and only allowing their opponents to grab an average of 39 per night. While the 41 per game average is slightly below the team’s season number of 45.2, they are still outrebounding their foes as they should with two double-digit rebounders in Gasol and Odom.
With that being said, the Lakers struggles do not arise due to a poor effort on the glass. Nor do they come from sloppiness with the ball, as they have kept their turnovers low during their four losses, averaging only 11.2 giveaways (not the bobblehead kind) per contest.
Additionally, the Lakers have been getting to the line and converting too, having knocked down 84 of 100 free throws over the course of their losing streak. That’s 84% flat. That would almost tie them for first place among the league’s other 29 teams. Team’s are so often blasted for losing games due to blown opportunities at the charity stripe, and despite their recent record, the Lakers are not among that group of ball clubs.
People criticize Derek Fisher for letting Mike Conley score 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting; and Gasol for helping on TJ Ford in the waning moments of the game, leaving Roy Hibbert (the hottest player in the game at that time) wide open down low. While those plays may have COST the Lakers the game. They were not the only things that LOST the Lakers the game. That was done by committee, and has been done so for four consecutive games.
Next: The Bottom Line