Today, the Lakers lose to Celtics by thirteen, 109-106.The loss follows another one just two days before from the cellar-dweller Sacramento Kings.Both these loses come at a time when Kobe Bryant reached scoring milestones.The loss to Sacramento came when Kobe passed Olaujuwon for 8th place in the NBA All-Time scoring.The loss to the Celtics came when the Black Mamba became the youngest NBA player to reach 27,000 points.The Lakers are now 33-15 good for 2nd in the West, but 4th in the league behind the tied Chicago and Miami.
So far, the Lakers have been performing inconsistently.But knowing the Lakers for more than ten years now, I can say that they have always been like this -- disappointing, at least as far as the regular season is concerned.This is one of the reasons I've not been following their regular season campaigns, even in those years when they won their back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.Come to think of it, they were similarly inconsistent even when Shaq was still playing with them.
So why are the media and the fans at SBNation react as if the loses spell the end for the Lakers?Perhaps it is more because they would like their favorite team to have a record that reassures them of another chance at the championship this time of the season?But to my knowledge, NBA teams generally jockey for playoff positions after the All-Star games.Last year, the Celtics barely reached the semi-finals and still got to the NBA playoffs.
The Lakers -- as the defending champs -- are, I admit, disappointing.After an 8-0 start, they started losing to weaker teams.And to compound their disappointing showings, teams like the Spurs, the Heat, and now the Celtics have drubbed them.They are still 2nd in the West, but their vulnerability is now showing.They can't play consistent defense, their frontline is not as strong as advertised (Sacramento exposed this), and their second-stringers can be outplayed.In the loss to the Kings and the Celtics, it was shown that even if Kobe is allowed to score, the Lakers would lose if the defense would concentrate on beating the other players on the floor.Kobe might be the best facilitator in the team, but if the defense clamps on the four other Lakers, who would he facilitate?
And what about the new defensive strategy of the Lakers?The Lakers' perimeter defense breaks down when the opposing teams make their shots. The solution of Sacramento was for DeMarcus Cousins to draw out Bynum in the mid-range and make his shots from their. That brought out Bynum outside and it left the other bigs of the Kings space to work on the inside with power plays against Gasol or Odom.When Bynum got into foul trouble, that was the time when Sacramento pounded the inside lanes.This also happened in the game against Boston. Remember the third quarter run of the Celtics?That was because Bynum got his fourth foul at the beginning of the third quarter.
So what if the Lakers lost this game ... again?I would wait till after the All-Star games to decide whether to continue following the Lakers' career this season.After all, the NBA gets more interesting towards the beginning of the semi-finals.I just hope that the Lakers continue to hold onto their place in the West and keep on improving both in defense and execution.
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