The bottom line for the Lakers is that everyone is struggling – plain and simple. Kobe is shooting too much (he has taken 103 shots over the Lakers’ last four games) and is missing too frequently (he has missed 60 of those 103 attempts) and Pau Gasol has received a major cool down after putting up MVP-like numbers to begin the season. People attribute this to fatigue, as Gasol has been playing nearly 40 minutes a night as a result of the Lakers thinned-out front line, which is missing Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff due to injury. While it’s not favorable for Pau to be playing 40-plus minutes a game on a consistent basis this early into the season, him and Odom have to step up while Bynum is out. They proved they could do it during the team’s first fifteen games, and they shouldn’t be that tired where they can’t do it for a few more weeks (when Bynum returns).
While there are many kinks and twists that the Lakers need to figure out, the most important thing that the Lakers need to make a priority, is a commitment to the defensive end. They have arguably the two best perimeter defenders in the NBA (when they want to be, at least) in Ron Artest and Kobe. Fisher, Gasol and Odom aren’t liabilities either. Although Fisher isn’t the fastest of point guards, he’s an asset to the team because of his strength and his willingness to put his body on the line. Most importantly, defense is not something that requires a special talent or incredible athletic ability. Defense is based on effort and desire. And right now, there has been little effort by the Lakers on the defensive end recently. They know that playing tough, solid defense will not only win them games, but championships as well (in case you missed it, game seven of the NBA Finals was won by an incredible defensive effort). Once the Lakers return to their defensive mindset, everything will begin to work itself out.
So Laker fans, do not worry about this Lakers team. They have the wherewithal to succeed, and as the season goes on, they will eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) put A and B together and return to their winning ways. Phil Jackson and Kobe will not let this talented of a team falter. Everyone knows what they are capable of, and the best coach in the game and the best player in the game will make sure that, at the end of the year, purple and gold will be reigning all over the NBA.