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Poll question: What should the Lakers' goal be for the rest of the season?

52758795 Recently, some of the Lakers have shared their specific goals for the remainder of the season.  Center Andrew Bynum has said the team should strive for 60 total wins, meaning the Lakers (49-18) must win 11 of their remaining 15 games of the regular season. Forward Ron Artest set the bar higher, saying the "main goal" should be winning all the remaining games. Guard Kobe Bryant and Coach Phil Jackson haven't mentioned specific numbers but have said the team must sharpen its execution as the season winds down. 

Bryant talked about execution recently with Bill Plaschke. The Times columnist asked Bryant, who bailed out the Lakers last week in a 109-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors, how he would assess the team's hunger level.

"I think what we have to do right now is focus on execution," Bryant said. "What happens is you get so wrapped up in the length of the season and wanting to win a championship that you overlook the small things."

That's intriguing because the Lakers organization has long taken pride in maintaining a big-picture perspective, something that's instrumental to Jackson's 10 rings but also something the team seems to use as an excuse to mask their lacking sense of urgency at certain points during the season. With the Lakers' 124-121 win Monday over the Golden State Warriors -- a night that featured a season-high 24 turnovers and shoddy interior and pick-and-roll defense -- it seemed a good time to take something away that was big picture.

Yet Bryant said on a night like Monday, you just want to get "out of here with a win."  Speaking to NBA.com's Geoff Lepper, he said, "You're not going to see anything remotely close to (the Warriors' style) in the playoffs. Not even close. So there's nothing you can gauge in this game. You just get out of here with a win and move on."


Bryant has a point that no team plays like the Warriors. As I mentioned in the game recap, Golden State's relentless up-tempo strategy doesn't always mean a win, but they cause other teams headaches. Credit the Lakers a little bit for finally adjusting after halftime by playing a deliberate half-court set and effectively neutralizing Golden State's tempo until, of course, the Warriors came back in the final minutes. 

The Lakers' game against Golden State wasn't an aberration. Their games aren't serving as steppingstones in their development.  After mailing it in against Philadelphia two weeks ago, the team showed some physical toughness against Denver. Instead of building on that performance against Indiana, the Lakers slogged through the beginning before suddenly using their talent to overwhelm the Pacers.

Then there was another loss to Orlando, but the Lakers at least played with effort. Not so in the following game against Toronto.  But in last week's road win against Phoenix, it appeared that despite examples of shoddy execution the Lakers were turning the corner. Artest suggested as much. The victory came against a playoff-caliber opponent outside the friendly confines of Staples Center. Jackson then stressed momentum, but there wasn't any against Golden State.

As the postseason approaches, the Lakers are providing isolated snapshots of potential as well as poor habits (the 24 turnovers, as ESPN Los Angeles' Kevin Arnovitz noted, marked the 12th time in 14 games the Lakers exceeded their average turnover rate). It's not clear from the Lakers' performances whether the team will finally round into form.

Sure, there are examples of individual growth. Center Andrew Bynum has played strong in the last month with three double doubles and double digit performances in six of the last seven games. Lakers forward Pau Gasol appears to be playing with more confidence after going through a dry spell earlier in the month. And it appears Bryant's poor shooting after returning from his left ankle sprain is a thing of the past. There are also some challenges that are beyond the Lakers' control. The Times' Mike Bresnahan documented all the players who are dealing with hand injuries, including Bryant (right index finger), Ron Artest (left thumb), Shannon Brown (right thumb), Jordan Farmar (left pinkie) and Lamar Odom (middle and index fingers, something he still fought through valiantly against Golden State).

Bresnahan recently pitched the idea that the Lakers should establish different benchmarks for the remaining 15 games to keep themselves motivated --  and so they could concentrate on the little things, as Bryant suggested. "The Lakers need to do goals, almost week to week now," Bresnahan said in a recent roundtable discussion. Phil Jackson "needs to lessen the scope of winning a championship to keep this team interested for the next six weeks."

And though Bynum and Artest listed a few tangible goals, not to mention the standings race, it remained unclear exactly what the Lakers were shooting for before the playoffs began.

What do you think the Lakers' goals should be? Vote in the poll below and elaborate in the comments section below.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Golden State guard Monta Ellis scramble for a loose ball during their game Monday night. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.

 
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Cleveland, Dallas, Denver know the playoff Lakers aren't the same team they had some success against in the regular season.

Winning out would reaffirm their edge and establish playoff swagger.

Wins answer all questions and cure all ills.

"The Lakers need to do goals, almost week to week now," - Mike Bresnahan

Hey, I said that yesterday. mike b added week to week goals. At this time of the year, the Lakers would just move to next competition so playing safe in every game. I don't know whether it is done intentionally to deceive the scouting reports and scribes or regressing.

Playing during the season is like the tax analogy. You work for the first four months just to pay Uncle Sam and Mr. Governator. After April 15th, you work for yourself and every income added to your revenue and personal expenses. Similarly, the Lakers are waiting for the playoffs and the same mode with the Celtics. It is referred as phasing and trying to avoid injuries.

I wonder what individual goals players have set for the team (besides Socks and Ron Ron). I'm pretty sure Kobe won't set any, but I wonder if Jordan say has a goal of getting 2 more rebounds a game more, or a few more deflections, or if Sasha wants to play super pesky defense for 4 hard minutes instead of the 3 he gets now.

The thing I take away from the GSW game is a win, and I'd prefer one of those to a loss. GSW shouldn't have had an opportunity to tie, but those are the breaks in the NBA, where any team can beat any other one at any given time (just look at the Bobcats, and how they won the season series against the Cavs - it's like Portland east for LeBron & Co.).

The thing about Kobe's 6 Game Winners is that you don't even get that opportunity very often! Kobe Bryant, simply amazing!

Edwin,

Sorry that Mike beat you to it. He actually said that in last week's roundtable discussion. Great minds think alike though

MM

WUTTUP CRUE!!!


GAME DAY BABY - YYYEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Laker Tom - so glad you had a great time AND a Laker victory to cap off your anniversary celebration!!

Mamba24 - outstanding work Larry!


MM - regarding the poll, my vote goes for getting healthy. I don't care if we win out or not, or play sloppy or not. BUT - what I know is that a healthy Laker team is a VERY DANGEROUS Laker team. Everything is sharper when you're healthy.


See y'all on the live chat tonight. Can it get any better?!!

GO LAKERS!!!

Nothing but another title will suffice.

CYBERCOSMIX… “LakerTom: Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself at the game. The Warriors have some pretty good fans, but I could swear watching the game that the Lakers were getting every bit as much cheering for them when they scored. Must have been fun watching those 3 bounces on the rim on the last shot that finally bounced out. I think it lasted like a whole minute, it seemed to! lol...”
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I have never had anything but great times at Oracle and most Warrior fans are good hosts and sports. You probably heard my entire clan chanting MVP when Kobe shot free throws. We were surrounded by Warrior fans except for a 99-year old white lady in a K0be Bryant jersey who needed a walker to get to her seat. As we left the arena, the old lady told my grandson Nick that she was Kobe’s grandmother. As we got outside, Nick turned to me and said “Wow, how cool to meet Kobe’s grandma.” My wife and son and I all almost fell down we were laughing so hard. Oh, to be so young and naïve again. Anyway, Warriors have some of the most loyal fans in the world who have been totally disrespected by their idiot owner Chris Cohan. Of course, being a California franchise, 1 out of 10 fans at Oracle were wearing KB24 jerseys. Myself, I was wearing my 2009 championship hat while Mrs., LakerTom was wearing her white back-to-back cap and son Kevin my old black and purple Lakers cap. Only one in a jersey was Nick, proudly displaying his KB24 gold jersey.
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Jeanette… Thanks for the kind words. Mrs. LakerTom is a saint for putting up with me. I am truly the lucky one. Keep with the faith, girl. It all adds up to a karma that no NBA team can match that translates to rings.
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OUCHHHH… Didn’t get a chance to meet or talk to AB (although we did meet Kobe’s grandmother, LOL) and the only Lakers jersey I own is a blue KB8 that is a little snug on my now. LOL. And I don’t have to worry about cheating on Mrs. LakerTom with my KB and AB love because she is right there rooting with me. No way I would ever marry any woman who was not a die-hard Lakers fan. Like me, Mrs. LakerTom has personally shared 10 NBA championships with me. :)
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TOM

Kobe, as usual, stated it best "I think what we have to do right now is focus on execution". Simply focus on running the offense correctly, looking for the right passes and time to shoot. The wins will come if the Laker execute correctly, this is a team that has experience and some veterans, so they just need to be healthy, somewhat rested and clicking come playoff time.

Phil said around January that teams usually hit a malaise, this team I think hasn't quite snapped out of it fully yet, but no way is it time to panic. The Lakers haven't shown the hunger of last year, when they were 3 injuries away from a title. This year, they are definitely pacing themselves, measuring their games and running their offense, just trying to peak near playoff time. Just because we aren't seeing some increased intensity yet, no problem. I'd be concerned come the first round game 2 or 3 if they are still playing lackluster, but no other team in this league has a better feel than the Lakers on the correct pacing come playoff time.

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Edwin Gueco: It looks like the Celtics, who not only seem to have gotten a flat, but blown the whole engine. I agree with you, if the Lakers work on sharpening their defense, along with staying healthy and getting rested then they'll be in good shape come playoff time...

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Caliphilosopher: The Bobcats haven't done too bad against the Lakers either, lol. Toronto played the Cav's tough the other day too. I wouldn't expect either of them to beat the Cav's if they met in the playoffs, but pushing them to 6 or 7 games would be nice =D.

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Thanks Mamba24. If there was a MVP poster on the blog, you'd be right there!

If it's not too late, please add me to the Happy Anniversary Mr & Mrs Laker Tom band wagon.

The Lakers clearly needed all three generations of the Laker Tom family cheering them on to close out the game.

I chose "winning on the road" in the poll because in order to win on the road, the Lakers have to focus and hang together through advesity. They'll have to survive a playoff like environment that will be against them.

What I would like to see most from the Lakers, however, is for the team to take one game at a time and let the big picture take care of itself. It doesn't sit well with me when I hear I.Ron talking about winning out the rest of the games or Andrew talking about 60 wins. I'd like them to take the game in front of them seriously, and use each contest as a chance to improve all aspects of the team game. Just my 2 cents. Number of victories and streaks will add up one game at a time.

LakerTom: I heard your MVP chants! That's great, and love your wardrobe selection. Congrats to you and your wife for such a long marriage, sounds like you have a wonderful family and are a lucky man!

I can't remember if it was the ESPN feed or the KCAL one, but they actually showed the little old white-haired lady your family spoke to. She pointed to her jersey when the camera was on her lol. I guess Laker fans come in all ages, shapes and sizes!

I think the first thing the Warriors owner should do is throw out Nelly. Most of the time he seems to have some ongoing clashes with players, is always making crazy tinkering with lineups, has a wacky rotation and doesn't seem to be building the team towards anything but mediocrity.

They have a great, deep, young backcourt nucleus, some nice pieces in and Maggette, Turiaf, Morrow, but decide to trade a nice player in Stephen Jackson for Raja Bell and VladRad instead of a center or power center? Doesn't make sense. Nelly clashes with Jackson, but he gets to Charlotte where Larry Brown praises him and calls him one of the smartest players he's coached, and Stephen flourishes for them, all while Bell and VladRad both sit injured on the Warrior bench. Makes no sense at all. By the way, Raja has been injured since training camp, so the Warriors knew he'd be requiring season-ending surgery when they got him. Did they have to get rid of the talented Stephen Jackson THAT bad? They literally got two bloated contracts sitting on their bench for one of their best players.

Oh well, guess that is why some bad teams like the Warriors and Clippers stay bad, while others succeed. It all starts at the top, these owners don't demand success. That is why Laker fans really have to be grateful to have probably the best owner in sports in Jerry Buss...

RICK… It’s never too late. Thanks much for the kind thoughts. It was pretty unbelievable how long that last shot danced on the rim before falling off. Strangely, I was not really worried. Call it too much karma or just plain visitors’ luck like all of the game winners Kobe has been draining. I smells me another championship.
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TOM

CybercosmiX -

I would love to see Charlotte push them to a triple overtime loss in Game 7 in Cleveland. That would break their hearts for sure! :-)

bronxlakerfan,

That's an excellent choice - I thought I read somewhere that they have 11 more games on the road (perhaps I am wrong about that). If they win all 11 on the road, I would gladly take that over my choice (since I was greedy, I chose "all of the above"). I think you're absolutely correct that winning road games is a good indicator that we are doing the right things for the playoffs - lock-down D, execution, focus, etc.

I'd love to see the Lake Show turn into a road warrior team, so that they could put the rest of the league on notice.

Caliphilosopher....

Looking at the schedule, I count 9 more road games including tonight in Sacto. This also includes 2 more back to backs on the road after tonight. And in April, they welcome the Spurs, Jazz and Blazers to Staples. No cakewalk the rest of the year for sure. As you stated, they need to focus for real.

Lakers need to get their butt in gear!!! I understand you take time during the season to coast...but coast time is over and it might cost them for coasting. You guys get paid too much money to play pathetic at times. I always wanted to play in the league and found out through many tryouts that I wasn't talented enough. I can't stand to see guys laugh on the sideline and just take things like the games for granted. I still feel my squad will win it all. Just hate seeing these guys play around so much with lesser teams. The front office really did a terrible job of putting the bench together (I said that during the offseason). Now its starting to show that if we get a serious injury who will step up from the bench? Shannon (who loves to shoot, as well as commit stupid turnovers)Brown? Jordan (who can't guard my eight yr old son)Farmar? Sasha (who never has probably had more than three assists in a game) Vujacic? Pray people that no one gets hurt and the front office fixes this in the offseason after celebrating another title!!! Go LAKERS!!!!!!

All of the above is my #1 answer but #2 should be to sharpen the defense. Defense wins championships and the Lakers have been playing atrocious defense with no heart, motivation or intensity.

Good defense goes a long way in making up for a lot of other short comings -especially so in the PO.


Thanks for posting that article, it feeds the mind and eases the eagerness of the reader… Compassion to give such these information and things made a great contribution in the world of the website, for the one who sees it and need it like me…


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