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Lakers' 91-75 loss to Oklahama City illustrates team's inconsistent focus

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As the television camera panned across the Lakers' bench, the downtrodden expressions gave away the story to all the viewers just tuning in. Lakers forward Ron Artest masked his mouth with a towel. Lakers forward Pau Gasol covered his with his fist. Lakers forward Lamar Odom sat on the bench stoically, as did Lakers guards Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic. And then the camera locked in on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, whose clenched jaw revealed his obvious frustration.

At this point, eight minutes remained in the fourth quarter in the Lakers' game Friday against Oklahoma City. But the result was already a foregone conclusion. The Lakers would lose 91-75 to the Thunder in the second game of a five-game trip. And the team's demeanor illustrated just how much of a contrast they showed two days earlier against San Antonio.

In that game, Bryant high-fived Lakers fans sitting courtside after hitting a jump shot, Artest blew kisses to fans after connecting on a putback and all of their teammates gathered along the bench smiling and laughing as the buzzer sounded. This isn't just a frivolous exercise in people-watching. After the Lakers earned their seventh consecutive win with a 92-83 victory Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers displayed a complete 180 against Oklahoma City.

Instead of Bryant overcoming double teams and leading a fourth-quarter charge, he sat on the bench in the fourth quarter after a listless 11-point performance on four of 11 shooting and committing nine of the team's 18 turnovers. Instead of Gasol overcoming a poor offensive night with suffocating defense inside, Gasol ended with just a poor offensive night, scoring only nine points on three of 10 shooting. Instead of grabbing five steals and proving his worth as a lock-down defender, Artest allowed Kevin Durant to score 26 points on a nine of 19 clip. Instead of Odom complementing the Lakers with an impressive double double in points (19) and rebounds (13), he was the only dependable option in leading the team with 15 points and seven rebounds. Instead of limiting the opposition to one scoring option, the Lakers also allowed former UCLA standout Russell Westbrook to score 23 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Instead of featuring five players in double figures, the Lakers mustered up only seven assists, their lowest since the team had six against Cincinnati in a 104-90 loss in December 1964.

The discrepancy between the the Lakers' numbers during their seven-game winning streak and their loss to Oklahoma City proves maddening. Consider the difference in points (105.1, 75), field-goal percentage (48.2%, 39.2%) and opponent's field-goal percentage (44.4%, 48.1%). The only consolation -- if you can call it that -- is the Thunders' 91 points fell below the 99.1 points per game the Lakers allowed in the previous seven contests. Meanwhile, the Lakers scored their lowest amount of points since finishing with 79 on Nov. 13 in a 105-79 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

From a pure numbers standpoint, the loss makes very little difference. The Lakers (53-19) still have a five-and-a-half game lead over Denver (48-25), a six-game advantage over Dallas (47-25) and a six-and-a-half game cushion over Utah (47-26) for first place in the Western Conference standings. Aside from the fact that the Lakers were supposedly chasing Cleveland (57-16) for the league's best record, however, the Lakers' latest loss provides the latest example of a team that lacks a consistent pattern in their performances.

How else to explain the following sequences two days after the Lakers featured five players reaching double figures and holding the San Antonio Spurs to 35-second half points, which was two points above their season-low 33 second-half points earlier this month to Miami. 

First quarter 8:03 - 7:54

After Artest missed an open three-pointer, Thunder center Nenad Krstic grabbed the rebound over a non-aggressive Gasol. Westbrook then led the break, met a double team from Fisher and Bryant at the foul line and kicked the ball out to the far side of the perimeter to guard Thebo Sefolosha. He drove past Bryant with one dribble to the lane and averted the passive weakside help from Gasol with an easy left handed layup, giving Oklahoma City an 11-4 lead. 

First quarter 7:42 - 7:31

Bryant looked to feed an entry pass on the right block, but Odom couldn't get positioning over Thunder forward Jeff Green. When Gasol flashed up toward the free-throw line, Bryant threw the pass near the direction of Westbrook up top. He tipped the pass to Sefolosha, who ran the break for the easy layin while Gasol and Artest slogged back. That left Bryant and Fisher alone on the 3-and-2 break, leading to the Thunder widening the lead to 13-4.

That effort was just the beginning.  Oklahoma City ended the first half with a 53-34 lead and ended the third quarter on a 16-2 run with a 33-point lead largely by duplicating those aforementioned plays as if they were in a movie reel.

As I watched those kind of plays over and over again, I kept reflecting on the recent article from NBA.com that highlighted sentiments from Bryant, Gasol and Fisher that suggested the media has vastly exaggerated the team's poor play (as if we haven't heard that one before). Bryant said, "we don't worry about the drama. I think that's more entertainment, something for people to talk about, especially in L.A." Gasol added, "We have so many media around us, following us. Obviously, when there's something that is unusual they make a big deal out of it and they try to start looking for reasons just to start things up." And Fisher concluded, "So far, in the last year plus, we've won 118 games and lost 35. That's not too bad. It sure isn't anything to worry about."

I totally understand that the media, as a whole, has the tendency to overreact to whatever happens in a day's course of events, and we'll always lack the insight on the things we don't know going on behind closed doors. I also can imagine that being asked the same question from different people over and over again bodes similar to how Peter Gibbons felt in Office Space when three different bosses on three separate occasions reminded him to attach a cover sheet on his TPS report, a small problem that became overly magnified because of the repetitive chatter about it. 

But the NBA.com story troubled me for two reasons. One, Jackson and most of his players, including Bryant, Gasol and Fisher, have acknowledged most of the criticism directed toward the Lakers to be valid, including the team's season-wide lack of urgency, inconsistent execution and poor screen-and-roll defense. They may have had different takes on issues, such as shot distribution, individual play and overall post-game analysis. But the Lakers have mostly agreed that they aren't satisfied with their play. Secondly, the issue here all season hasn't been whether the team wins or loses games. It's how they have lacked a definitive pattern in their overall development, one of the reasons why no one on the team expressed much excitement about its six-game winning streak entering the current trip.

And the Lakers' latest loss provides the latest example of that problem. They put together a solid effort against San Antonio that was deemed momentum building, only to see it come crashing down with an effortless performance against Oklahoma City. There's no doubt the Lakers have the ability to rebound from such games. Heck, they spent seven games in the Western Conference semifinals last season against Houston demonstrating the same maddening inconsistency. But with that type of approach, there's no guarantee the result will end up in the Lakers' favor during the postseason. It worked in last year's playoffs, and the Lakers eventually sharpened their focus midway through the Western Conference Finals against Denver. But in this postseason, the Lakers may or may not be so lucky.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers center Pau Gasol, left, and forward Ron Artest watch from the bench during the second half of Friday's game against Oklahoma City. Credit: Larry W. Smith/EPA.

 
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"Pau Gasol had nine points on three-for-nine shooting and played "soft," Jackson said."
____________________________________________________

Alas- we have confirmation from the top man himself, Mr. Phil Jackson. I've been saying it for 2 years on this blog, and now Phil Jackson has confirmed what I've been saying.

Pau Gasol is a soft player. What Phil didn't elaborate upon was the Pau is fools gold and wilts under pressure, just like a dainty tulip. Pau Gasol is NOT the number two option for the Lakers; Andrew Bynum is.

Phil Jackson has officially called Pau Gasol soft. I am vindicated!

"...Anger began seeping into the game with the Lakers down 25 near the end of the third quarter.

Bryant scowled after a three-second violation on Gasol. Jordan Farmar yelled at Gasol after the Lakers' forward failed to call out a screen that erased Farmar."
_______________________________________________________

Have you all read the LA Times Laker story by Bresnahan? These are direct quotes. I'm telling you, Pau Gasol is upsetting his team mates, and his head coach. His soft, ineffective, nervous play has finally gotten on the last nerve of the Laker organization. Pau Gasol is far from being a number 2 player for the Lakers; you can forget that myth.

I see the writing on the wall, and I love it...TRADE PAU GASOL!

The Lakers are imploding before our very eyes. Thanks, Pau Gasol.

FOOLS GOLD?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I keep telling myself that it’s only one game. I remind myself how well he played in last year’s Finals. I point out that he was last week’s Player of the Week in the Western Conference. But when I see Pau come out and play like a total punk as he did tonight, all I can think of is Mike T’s constant rant that Chris Mihm as a center was “fools gold.” Ironically, I’m beginning to think the same of Pau Gasol.
~
To find myself in the same proverbial boat as Mike T is pretty scary stuff. Of course, the big difference is that he was trying to sell Kwame Brown as the Lakers next great center while I have the good luck and edge of trying to do the same but with Andrew Bynum. On the other hand, Mike T. had a gigantic advantage in that nobody mistook Chris Mihm for a proven All-Star caliber player like Pau Gasol.
~
As poor as I thought they were, the Thunder broadcast crew displayed uncanny insight when they noted that, without Bynum, the Lakers lose that overwhelming advantage in height and length with which very few teams can match up. With Pau tossing up weenie shots and playing totally bewildered on defense, the Lakers had zero inside game tonight and were killed on the boards and in the paint.
~
Pau’s inability to deal with the physicality that every team is now throwing at him is a huge concern, especially if it takes Andrew longer than hoped to recover from his Achilles strain and get back to playing at the level he was before the injury. What exacerbates the problem is that now everybody is going to really challenge Pau physically, knowing that he tends to get flustered and become passive.
~
It’s not just this one game that causes me to worry about Pau’s play. Truthfully, there have been more games than his staunchest proponents would admit when the Spaniard has played very soft on both offense and defense, throwing up weak shots rather than finishing at the rim, and letting penetrating players make easy layups and dunks to avoid picking up fouls rather than trying to protect the rim.
~
Hopefully, this is just another overreacting post from another disgruntled Lakers fan who is pissed his team got killed, disappointed his favorite player had a terrible game, discouraged his second favorite player is once again out with an injury. and dismayed Pau Gasol has been playing like he belongs in the WNBA rather than the real men’s league. Pau Gasol needs to start playing a lot tougher.
~
As for the rest of the team, Kobe was just terrible, unable to stay on his feet and getting absolutely zero love from the refs. Lamar continued to step up and play well. But without a low post game on offense or a shot blocking presence on defense, the Lakers were doomed from the start. This is what happens when you can’t play inside-out basketball – and when you don’t have Andrew Bynum.
~`````````````
Is Pau Gasol “fools gold?” Not if he plays like he did in last year’s Finals. But make no mistake, Pau is not the long-term answer at center for a championship team. Other teams know now how to defend Pau and it is only going to get rougher and tougher as we head into the playoffs. While Pau is not “fools gold,” there is no doubt in my mind that the Lakers need Andrew Bynum in order to repeat.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM


That same lineup minus the Ron just won a championship. But this is now, and now sucks and that means a lot of sentences using the verb TRADE.

Trade 'em all for players that never let us down... hopefully they feel bad enough to trade themselves right now.

Vman,

It is funny what a day makes. After winning in San Antonio, there is euphoria of invincibility and now losing in Oklahoma, trade everybody in March. lol Lakers are the equivalent of Saint Mary's College tonight, from the opening bell they were already a goner. Best thing that had happened no injuries only frail nerves in pointing the blame on someone else except himself. Move on to the next game.

I've said it before this season, and I may as well say it again.

This is a Lakers team that is externally motivated.

What this means is that the Lakers can only find focus when they receive a form of external motivation (e.g being punked in a finals series by a Boston team who outmuscled, outhustled and outplayed them). It is not a team that plays with heart, energy and passion without that motivation; without someone to hate.

Oklahoma may not be of the caliber of the Bulls teams of the 90's, but they're not a rec team, either. Step on the floor making stupid assumptions about the style of basketball you think you can afford to play, and you're just begging to find yourself embarrassed.

This entire season has been the perfect illustration for my point. We've had plenty of wins based on talent alone, but how many based on effort and execution?
Who knows. Maybe we'll get trounced in the first round of the playoffs this season and come back with some fire in 2011.

LOL...
You guys are hilarious.

THE SKY IS FALLING!

I love reading your posts after a loss.
Classic!

I unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) missed the game tonight. What in the world happened out there?

And lest anyone forget, remember that Pau was our undisputed #2 guy on our championship team last year. Yeah, he plays frustratingly soft at times, but he's still the most skilled big man in the game.

Let's not overreact to one bad loss. That's what the Plaschke's of the world do. We played a good team tonight, and just happened to have an off-night.

One loss is not a measure of a team.
----------------------------------------------------------

Tommorrow the sun will rise in Houston.

----------------------------------------------------------

A real fan supports his team win or lose.

M

Mamba,

"@EJK,Don't take me seriously. I was just playing with you man. No disrespect meant. Just killing time till the game comes on and sometimes my so-called humour takes over. my apologies bro.
Mamba24(Larry)"

LOL. No worries...I knew you were joking around. I kinda figured that I wouldn't get an "OUT-FREAKING STANDING!!!" from you. But just so you know, there's plenty of room in the LBJ to LA bandwagon :)

Hey, trully Lakers fan, don't read hatred posts. These people have only 1 thing in mind: hate!

We don't hate, waste of time. Quite predictable game in the 1st half; they opened a big lead (15 points I said on my last post, b4 the game), but the difference is that we didn't step up on the 2nd half, that's it. A looser is a guy that call us fakers when we're still #1 in the West.

It all goes to the basics of basketball: "A sport where the objective is to have the ball to PASS inside the hoop". That's it! We failed to put the darn ball inside the hoop, we didn't hit the shots.

OKC is the team that have a type of game that "fits" on our game, they know how to score on us. We won the past games mostly because we are more experienced than they are; didn't happened tonight, sorry...

I was mad, don't get me wrong...Mostly coz, Kobe sometimes don't understand he's the BEST, remember that, King Mamba, you're the guy, you can't have turnovers like that! But I have faith on you, of course.

Big deal, let's move on.

#1 team in the west league.

Lessons to learn, plenty tonight.

Cheers.

I will not panic.
I will not panic.
I will not panic.
I will not panic.

Neither should you.

This is a team that couldn't find itself if it were locked in an otherwise empty room.

I've long ago given up the idea that anything will change until the post season begins. The glide to victory in San Antonio was (to use an overused expression on this blog) Fools Gold. It meant nothing. This unit simply can't motivate itself until everything is on the line. Do you need to be hit over the head with a 2 x 4?

I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm saying, that's reality. So if Friday night's game against OKC gets your britches in a knot, stop watching and stop paying attention until the playoffs begin on April 17. Take up knitting. Go to a baseball game. Go see LCD Soundsystem at Coachella on Friday April 16. Anything!

Should we be worried? Every fan has his/her opinion. Except me. I don't know. I'm taking it one post season game at a time. Go Lakers!

This entire season has been the perfect illustration for my point. We've had plenty of wins based on talent alone, but how many based on effort and execution?
Who knows. Maybe we'll get trounced in the first round of the playoffs this season and come back with some fire in 2011.

Posted by: Benjamin

Benjamin,
Very insightful. It is good to see someone write something that isn't totally biased.

Aloha Laker Tom,

Yes you are right, you are going Mike T on us and that isn't what a lot of us has come to expect from your posts. We missed Andrew. He is a match up problem for the Thunder but man all the other stuff?

Lets not forget what Pau is, one of the best power forwards in the game. You said there is no shot blocking presence? Think Duncan agrees with you? No Defense? Come on man. We are a very hard to to match up with when we have both Pau and Andrew in the line up, but you are just throwing Pau under the bus because so many clueless guys were posting that Lamar should start instead of Andrew. I had come to expect more from you.

MH

Lakers need a better point guard. That point guard position is slipping up the rest of the starters. Maybe if Shannon Brown started over Fisher????????
I think our defense would be more secure if Brown played as a starter. I don't know, but they should try it cuz this was a layup parade!!

Does this loss mean we can't challenge the Bulls for the regular season victory record?

Wake me when the post-season starts!

Another thing, this is the NBA and games like these do happen. But they can't happen 4 times in a row people. These are flukes of nature. And no other team adapts better than the Lakers. They'll be fine when the playoffs start. Trust in the Lakers people. I was frustrated I must admit but hey 1 game is not gonna make me hate this team. They still have the best record in the west and 2nd in the NBA!!! Just remember sometimes shots don't fall and sometimes the opponents shots fall easily. This would only happen about 1 or 2 times in a 7 game series people!!

A loss is a loss but season not over yet. We are in playoffs and I say in playoffs we go 16-0. Lets take those rings and add another O'Brian trohpy.

Forget all the politics that go along with supporting the Lakers from a basketball point of view this team has some serious issues to over come if they are to repeat. Inconsistent starters and non-existent bench play is not a formula for repeating. Analyzing the starters is quite easy, they miss the energy and easy baskets that Ariza gave them. Ariza was a guy who disrupted the play of the other team and at 24 played above the rim on occassion. Artest is completely the opposite. His inconsistent play is killing the lakers at the moment. Even if the Lakers repeat losing Ariza will hurt the Lakers for years to come. He was the modern day Michael Cooper a fact proved by his struggles as a starter in Houston. Gasol to me is the most frustrating Laker of them all. Only 29, the guy should be killing people both on offense and defense but he is giving the Lakers nothing close to what a all star should provide and it is time Phil called him out on his play. Fisher is done as a starter but I understand why Phil keeps him in the line up because without him the Lakers just drift in games. With Fisher is your starter that should tell you all you need to know about the guards on the bench. Bynum needs to mature and at 22 find a way to get healthy on a consistent basis. Kobe has to refocus his efforts. Kobe is a damn if I do and damn if I don't player now and that is unfortunate. The game should be easy for Kobe now that he actually understand how to think the game as well physically play it. Jordan had Pippen to make the game easier for him but Kobe is being let down by what is around him now. If Ariza was around maybe he could have developed into a Pippen type player. He certainly was yound enough. I have never seem anything like what Kobe is going through now. Teammates he is suppose to lead but cannot because they don't want to be lead. There are way too many agends on this Lakers team. I want to scream what talent when all the analyst proclaim the talent of the Lakers. Of all the Laker teams I have seen this is the most puzzling. What bench Powell, Sasha, Farmer, Walton and Odom some bench. Besides Odom who plays when the mood strikes him. Where is the spark off this bench? Who provides the points or defense when the starters are rested? The Lakers consist of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom off the bench. The rest is just window dressing.


While Rolling Stone recently declared Kevin Durant better than Kobe Bryant, Warriors guard Monta Ellis has his own opinion on who should be ranked as the NBA’s three best players.

“I’m going to say LeBron James [third],” Ellis said recently. “He can do it all, pass, score, defend, block shots. No. 2, I would have to say, me. I can do a whole lot of things: defend, score, make passes, do whatever I need to do.

“No. 1, I’d say Kobe Bryant. There isn’t one player that can stop Kobe one-on-one. He has a lot of stuff. He can defend. And of course, he won four championships.”


I love how all the players say that Kobe is better than Lebron, but the media always picks Lebron over Kobe. Oh well, if the guys playing the game know whats up, I am perfectly fine with that.

TROY how can you be such a hater ? LAL wouldn't have got the 09 championship and 08 finals without Gasol. Everyone knows that. That simple. He plays soft often and speaks too much ? True. But you portrait him as a cancer when he has been more of a blessing for the team. Bynum plays tougher, but lacks coordination, game IQ and is injury prone. Still he is a nice 5, but Pau is a great 4 who has to play 5 too often for Bynum foul trouble or injuries.
I can smell something different from your words. Something more related to the fact that he is white and european, I'm afraid. Sad

If we have to play the Thunder you just gave them the confidence they needed. This time last year the Lakers were playing great with a chip on their shoulder. Now you don't know what you will get. Even though the whole team played bad. Everything starts with the point guard situation. Every team has figured out, we are gonna kill the Lakers at point, it doesn't matter who we play. We don't have a consistent three point shooter. On NBA TV Steve and Cheryl just shook their head. They admitted the Lakers have the worst bench in the league. They said you always need bench players to come in and give the team a boost when the starters are playing bad, we have scrubs. As much as I hate to admit it Kobe has lost a step and all the injuries and the minutes are catching up with him, As this team is now constructed we will be the number 1 seed in the west this year, but with no changes next year will be hard to make the playoffs in the west because every team is getting better and younger

ok, as happens awfully often, we had a horrible game. This is frustrating and I just made up my mind: I will simply stop to watch the Lakers until the playoff.... I had a feeling that, somehow, things will be better then...
Nevertheless I do not understand so much hate on Pau. Just two days ago he had a solid defensive game and blocked twice Tim! Do you remember who is Tim? (or unfortunately for the NBA, who was...). What should have said a Spurs fan after Tim scored only 6 point in that game? Trade Tim? Come on!


Im not a person to panic, but i dont see the lakers repeating. We have too many holes. they are relevant at PG and at Center. i'm tired of seeing other teams dance their way to the basket. Jesus Bynum and Gasol send a message and knock them on their butts.
Maybe the playoffs will be more entertaining this year than last. Lakers will be playing Blazers first then either suns or Spurs, finally the Thuggets or Mavs. Sounds like very entertaining ball out west. And remember, correct me if i am wrong, TNT hasn't called their conference they want to cover in the finals. Oppurtunist; they make me sick.

Whats Gonna happen if the Lake show meet the Cavs in the finals? We all know that the Cavs are gonna win it. thats how Stern wants it. what r gonna be the lakers excuses? hopefully that will motivate them to win 70 plus games next year.
hate nothing more than cocky, arrogant people. even if Lakers win the trophy this year. they were a dissapointment when we all knew their potential.

The weird part is how upset Phil Jackson is. You know somethings wrong when the coach can't stand the stench of his own playas.

only way the Lake show can redeem themselves is a sweep of the playoffs. Fans or haters, stop pretending and stop defending. i worked for them and saw the lake show first hand. they dont care bout effort and they are not committed.
come playoffs they think they r gonna skip their way through. I hope they lose 4-0 on the first round just so they can commit and dedicate to playing ball for 4 quarters. In all honesty at this point i am emberassed to be a Laker Fan.
Go hardworking players and their team, i mean Blazers. Whats their excuse? LOl, and look at ours!

One bad game and all guns shooting to death Pau Gasol.

Worst to be stupid is d'ont have memory.

This team with Pau is actualy the CHAMPION.

"So if Friday night's game against OKC gets your britches in a knot, stop watching and stop paying attention until the playoffs begin on April 17."


I wish I could but I can't.
I'm addicted.
Do you have an antidote Rick?


Should we be worried? Every fan has his/her opinion. Except me. I don't know. I'm taking it one post season game at a time. Go Lakers!
Posted by: Rick Friedman | March 26, 2010 at 11:23 PM


Rick,

That just makes too much sense.
I think though, that you have the right attitude for sure.
With this team, this season, one game at a time.
To borrow from Forest, each Laker game is like a box of chocolate...
I enjoy your sensible posts.

I think Kobe's picked up Ron Ron's Hennessy habit. Why else would the (formerly) best player in the world commit ANOTHER nine turnovers and keep falling on his wallet all the time? Is the basketball Jesus show over? Like the rest of the team, Kobe has stunk up the joint since X-mas. I know, he's got his injuries, but c'mon people. He's superhuman! He's supposed to walk on water even with his legs cut off. It pains me immensely that LeEvaBraun James is now the best player on the planet. Stay off the sauce Kobe!!!

And Baby "All Star" Bynum being our 2nd option? Bwwaaahh haaa haaaa haaa! You think Gasol's disappeared late in games? Then what about Bynum? Gasol IS the perfect fit. Sure, I wish he would be tougher but the dude has consistantly been playing at an all star level since he came here. Who else than The-greatest-player-ever-before-he-took-up-Hennessy has done that?

How 'bout turning Bynum into a cyborg? Replace his fubar legs with some hot T-600 ditos and throw in some T-800 hips and the youngster will surely kick some serious B-hind! After that we only need to replace the hearts and brains of the rest of the guys and voila! Dynasty.

Final thought: Vicious people have been labeling our team "Fakers" for years, but now, with the play they're displaying nowadays, our sweet Lakers have finally earned that nickname. Is this disappointment talking? Damn straight!

Sorry for taking a while to get back to posting here, but I was delayed putting on my mask so I wouldn't get the Plaschke Virus that seems to have infected most of our usually upbeat, positive Laker Amigos. Seems like all the most virulently infected trolls here have even out-Simered Plaschke in their pathological need to kvetch about something/anything and make otherwise positive people just as miserable as they are with their own pathetic lives.

Me? I'm frustrated with our Lakers too, but I'm not jumping into the mud-wrestling pit with our trolls and starting to yell "trade". I can agree that Kobe's skills are indeed eroding, but he's still got enough high-test in the tank to power us through the playoffs. And Pau never was and never will be Shaq, but "soft"? Yeah, just like Gretzky was soft (something he was called his entire Hall of Fame career). Sorry, I want Pau in there too as we blow past all the pretenders in the playoffs. Ditto for Lamar, the best Swiss army knife ever.

So bring it on, trolls, because...

Wherever there is injustice, you will find us. Wherever there is Plaschke Virus, we'll be there. And wherever there are whinypoopydiaperfrijolefiring trolls, you will find...

THE LAKER AMIGOS!!! Let's ride!!!

Corner J,

LOL
Breath of fresh air.

No, Arnold. You're way off base.

Okay. Okay.

Awful game.

I expected better, but the second game of a road trip is always the worst. That's the game where you feel most the effect of travelling before one's body begins to adapt to the physical effects of travelling itself.

It's still not an excuse, but it is more understandable.

Onto the next game.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Jon K - the voice of reason. Dang, now I've seen it all.

Fellow Laker fans,

I really do not understand why every time when things go wrong, it is always Pau´s fault.

This just doesn´t make sense, since Pau is the only Laker player other than Bryant that demands the ball, who has the hability to carry the team for stretches, and is the second best rebounder, best blockshoter, very good passer, extremely high basketball IQ, etc.

Can he play better, with more intensity, more phisicality?Yes, but that doesn´t mean that Pau is the reason for this strange Laker season so far.

I´d say that it is possible that Pau is part of the reason, since he can play better, but what about Kobe in these last two months?This is the worst stretch of basketball played by Kobe in years, Ron and Lamar were always inconsistent players throughout their careers, our bench is a no show since 2008, Bynum is still a kid and is not ready for prime time yet, altough I do believe that we need him now and in the future if we want to stay competitive.

So there are several reasons for our lackluster season but somehow lots of people choose always one of them, Pau Gasol and that is not neither fair or right.

I am extremely concerned heading into the playoffs. I think it is very well possible, even probable that we win the West but in the finals I don´t know.

At this point I am hoping for the best but expecting just about anything from this team, and that includes an upset in the first round or even a repeat.

By the wat this regular season is the most boring one in years, there is nothing important left to be done, let´s just pray nobody gets injured and wait for the playoffs to begin.

The ideology of a Laker cheerleader never fails to amaze me...

I suppose all of you who say we shouldn't be worried honestly think that the Lakers can suddenly start playing quality basketball come the playoffs, and that all of these lopsided losses to quality teams is nothing more than the residual of Laker boredom.

All of these losses simply don't count because hey, we're the Lakers...

We can beat any team in the NBA in 7 game series simply because, well, we're the Lakers!

No evidence to support, no precedence, nothing. We can beat anybody because...you got it, we're the Lakers.

A championship is guaranteed to us no matter how we play in the regular season because...we're the Lakers,

Come the playoffs, Fisher will magically start to shoot better than 50%, Phil will give a damn, Lamar and Artest will be consistent, Bynum will play defense, Kobe will stop turning the ball over 5 times a game, and Pau will grow a pair. Why? ...cuz we're the Lakers!

"Hey Laker fan, why do you think you can beat the Cavs in a 7 game series?"

"Well, uh...lets see, cuz we beat them in the reg...no, um...cuz Fisher kills..., no, well, uh, cuz Pau domina-...uh, um...oh yeah, cuz we're the Lakers!"

"Oh, now I get it. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Thank you for enlightening me!"

"You're welcome. See you on Sepulveda."

Unbelievable (Well, whatever floats your boat and gets you through the day)

ps- "Oh, Mr. Laker Cheerleader? If you're the Lakers and can turn it on whenever, how come you haven't been consistently winning NBA championships? Mr. Cheerleader? Helloo???"

Let us all bow our heads and recite the Troll Prayer, it goes something like this:

Dear God of Trolls, please make the Lakers trade Bynum, Gasol, Fish and Kobe.
Send Ron back to Houston, dump Farmar and Shannon and Sasha in the pacific ocean, and for Trolls sake find a way to get rid of Luke.
Morrison will be gone because of no more contract hallelujah, hallelujah.
And also dear Troll God, send PJ back to Montana tout de suite.

That leaves 'too often no-show' LO, 'can't hit the broad side of a barn door with a basketball' Powell and 'the one player no one ever criticizes' Mbenga to build a new team around.

Hmm, umm, one more thing dear Troll God, as you know we are only in a righteous state of mind when the Lakers lose so please make Jerry Buss sell the Lakers to Donald Sterling so they will lose many, many games and we can then rise up into Troll heaven.

Amen

LakerTom,

12t. Hello.

2nd. you wrote: As poor as I thought they were, the Thunder broadcast crew displayed uncanny insight when they noted that, without Bynum, the Lakers lose that overwhelming advantage in height and length with which very few teams can match up. With Pau tossing up weenie shots and playing totally bewildered on defense, the Lakers had zero inside game tonight and were killed on the boards and in the paint.
~
Pau’s inability to deal with the physicality that every team is now throwing at him is a huge concern, especially if it takes Andrew longer than hoped to recover from his Achilles strain and get back to playing at the level he was before the injury. What exacerbates the problem is that now everybody is going to really challenge Pau physically, knowing that he tends to get flustered and become passive.
~
It’s not just this one game that causes me to worry about Pau’s play. Truthfully, there have been more games than his staunchest proponents would admit when the Spaniard has played very soft on both offense and defense, throwing up weak shots rather than finishing at the rim, and letting penetrating players make easy layups and dunks to avoid picking up fouls rather than trying to protect the rim.

my response: Didn't you vilify *ME* for softness quotes about Gasol? You
can fire up that apology machine anytime sport.

Aloha Michael H,

To LakerTom you wrote: Lets not forget what Pau is, one of the best power forwards in the game. You said there is no shot blocking presence? Think Duncan agrees with you? No Defense? Come on man. We are a very hard to to match up with when we have both Pau and Andrew in the line up, but you are just throwing Pau under the bus because so many clueless guys were posting that Lamar should start instead of Andrew. I had come to expect more from you.

my response: Pau was playing center last night. He's a great PF. He's only a
good C. Last night he did what I've been complaining about for the last 4 mos.
He played soft. He played like his European Championship meant something.
He did not play like his life was at stake. I told you guys this two months ago,
but then a lot of people ignored me or vilified me. All the questions about
Kobe dominating the ball were red herrings.

To be clear. I actually prefer to have Lamar come off the bench. What I
*REALLY* want is for Phil & Kobe to put on their work boots and kick
every single player in the behind. Starting with the WHINY Gasol & D-Fish.
Finishing with BYNUM & tagging Farmar, Brown & Odom in between.

I am not mad at Kobe for the turnovers. He's got a broken finger. I'm not
mad at Artest. He's trying. Outside of those two players, the Lakers have
played with a sense of entitlement versus a sense of urgency & now it's getting
close to "closing" time and we're not ready. Now we're trying to find/catch
our wave versus riding our wave into the playoffs.

Yes, there is still time. Yes, we can. Our job is sooooo much more difficult
than it should be.

And, Yes! I wish we had traded for Bosh. Why? Because he would have
addressed the "lack of urgency" in our frontline which everyone in the
universe can now see.

Go Kobe!
Go Lakers!!!

Troy,

Ever since the blogs/message boards the Lakers must have won at least 4 championships. But unfortunately, comments like yours were there year in year out. It's the same story every year. Win or lose. You will sound like a genius when they dont win the championship but get swept under the rug when they to win it all. Why? Because we are all nobodies here. You will gloat when you are right and disappear when you're wrong and no one will miss you.
Can the Lakers beat the Cavs in a 7 game series? Why not? You said "no" but that's just your opinion. That's why they play the game. That's like saying Butler can't beat Syracuse. On paper, that's true. Only on paper.
Until the Lakers get eliminated, I am not going to declare them "done". But that's just my 0pinion.

Art - FL Laker Fan,

TY, that was hilarious. You forgot about getting rid of Gary Vitti, the Laker Girls and the ball boys though.

Seriously though, isn't seppuku really the only honorable option for us as Laker fans?

I hate it when the blog comes down with acute Plaschkeitis.

OK blog community time for the bandwagon fans to jump off, this is you're opportunity JUMP I hope you didn't brake you're ankles while landing. True Laker fans will continue to support this team regardless. There are many holes with very little passion and heart on display last night, but this team follows it's leader who did not lead. They'll show tonight, you can take that to the BANK.

Seriously though, isn't seppuku really the only honorable option for us as Laker fans?
Posted by: Mark G | March 27, 2010 at 09:19 AM

Thanks Mark,

Not until they are eliminated, then, yes, I agree, the only option for us all.

@Troy
I liked your post on Mr Cheerleader and I agree we are playing a lot worst than expected. But let me answer your question, I hope something will change for the playoff because I'm a Lakers fan and because there is nothing else that I can do and neither can you! We can't change players, we can't motivate them so relax, fast your seat belt and enjoy the playoff! Maybe we'll lose in the first and then something will be done... It's life! But I still hope we will have a nice run and somehow we still try to play the Cavs.... Go Lakers!

It's not a futile expectation to focuse on the fact Lakers in the playoffs are turning in to be something VERY different than from regular season, Troy.

We believe that because it ALWAYS happens that.

It's about what has been (rightly) called the "motivational imput" in the Lakers mindset.

It does exist.

it's also pretty common factor in many team sports.

Of course we can doubt the turning and switch on factor can magically erase our minus flow, but many evidences in our team sport history pretty much show things have a great odd in happening exactly that way actually.

It's not blind belief.

It's a consideration that encompass what these players SHOULD be doing, and what these players have the skills (proven in past years and situations) to do.

We are at the end of a regular season; we have still physical injuries to deal with; we have a problem in focusing that is ALSO determined by our approach to the various opponents (and really... OKC just don't get the best of us... like a not too cute lover that we just can't bother to even look at).

These are not good things we have to face, I'll admit it.

But these are all things which can get erased easily when we decide to focus on.

We're a self indulgent lazy team.

Not pretty to accept it.
But this is how we roll.

If Lakers care to show up, we can witness glory.

If Lakers will not show up in playoffs, we will have things to say, because it will have been our responsibility to lay down expectations, having still the BEST team out (cos we have).

But is really a crooning mantra of negative moaning a best way to address this, NOW in a pretty much harmeless period of the season, and expect Lakers will tune in to show magically an energy that probably isn't even there in full yet?

Don't think so.

And really, looking other teams (not that I care: to me what others team do is simply unrelevant, I only care what Lakers do) show you that this focus and managing energy (menally and physically) is a common problem in this moment of the season for all the NBA.

Then, addressing Pau's softness... I still think the way the team is asking him to not being natural in his game is a double knife that he's holding in the dangerous way so far.

And there, I may blame Pau.
But not only him.
That's a current problem though.
Something that might be affecting us widely in playoffs, unlike the focus lacking currently that I (being a cheerleader, sure, and proudto be) totally believe 110% will be solved as soon as playoff horns sound.

The Lakers are starting to scare me, because they have been trying to win but can't. This isn't the Shaq and Kobe Lakers where they can just turn it on for the playoffs.


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