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Lakers consistently demonstrate inability to capitalize off momentum

For far too long the Lakers have battled inconsistency. Forward Pau Gasol observed that there's "been too many ups and downs at this point of the year." Coach Phil Jackson acknowledged that some of the games the Lakers won haven't always been pretty. And guard Derek Fisher remembered how the team's seven-game winning streak this month was still met with questions about the team's execution.

"Even, as you guys so gracefully pointed out, even when we were winning games, we still just weren't playing very well in terms of our overall consistency," Fisher said. "There wasn't a feel that this team was going to get better."

Yet, Jackson and Lakers forward Lamar Odom didn't express as much concern as before about the team's lapses in play, debating with reporters what the term "struggling" meant. "Struggling to you might be different to us," Odom said. Added Jackson: "Struggling is when you don't win ballgames. Some of it you win ballgames and you don't look good and you still struggle, so that's basically it." Or as Frederick Douglas once said, "Without struggle, there is no progress."

It's an interesting dichotomy the team currently faces. The Lakers (55-22) can officially clinch the top spot in the West with a win Thursday against the Denver Nuggets, but are losers in four of their last six games. Though the Lakers recently put together a seven-game winning streak, only one of those victories came against a .500 opponent, with the rest featuring inconsistent play. Those fears proved to be legitimate after the team went on a 2-3 trip. After an impressive win last Friday against Utah thanks to team balance, the Lakers laid an Easter egg two days later against San Antonio because of poor team chemistry.

The Lakers may have improved their urgency, most notably in the past three games, but one thing still remains an issue: The team has largely failed to build momentum following signature wins all season. Sure, there have been numerous problems ailing the Lakers, such as injuries, poor pick-and-roll defense, poor offensive chemistry and an inconsistent bench. But the Lakers' inconsistency in building progress continues to cloud the big picture -- whether the Lakers can repeat as champions.

Consider a stretch of eight games in which the Lakers failed to build on a signature win. That includes the following contests:

--The Lakers' 121-103 victory Nov. 12 over the Phoenix Suns followed by the Lakers' 105-79 loss Nov. 13 to the Denver Nuggets

--The Lakers' 98-92 win Jan. 18 over the Orlando Magic preceding the Lakers' 93-87 loss Jan. 21 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

--The Lakers' 90-89 victory over the Boston Celtics followed by the Lakers' 95-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies

--The Lakers' 92-83 win March 24 over the San Antonio Spurs preceding the Lakers' 91-75 loss March 26 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Granted, this stretch only accounts for four of the Lakers' 22 losses. But because the Lakers had entered those contests with strong momentum, it's hard not to wonder how much of an after-effect a win or least a quality performance would have had on the team's development. Nonetheless, there are a few trends that stick out during these stretches of games.

Quick turnaround

The following two games couldn't have been any more different. After a 121-103 victory Nov. 12 against the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers flew overnight to Denver and didn't arrive until 5 a.m. the following day. The Lakers appeared sluggish against the Nuggets, losing 105-79, shooting 35.2% and scoring only 23 points in the second half. The Lakers also struggled on another back-to-back in late January-early February. After the team's 90-89 victory at Boston, the team quickly traveled to Memphis the next day and lost 95-93. Although these following two games weren't played on consecutive days, the Lakers followed up an inspiring 92-83 victory March 24 over the San Antonio Spurs with a fairly unimpressive 91-75 loss March 26 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. This points to an even bigger issue: The Lakers are 12-6 on the second night of a back-to-back, something that the team should keep in mind when it plays at Denver on Thursday followed by a game Friday at Minnesota.

Close games

Still, the back-to-backs don't fully explain the Lakers' failure to build off signature wins. After all, this is just part of the grinding NBA schedule. There have also been games in which the difference involved the Lakers making key plays down the stretch.

In the Lakers' 90-89 victory Jan. 31 over the Boston Celtics, forward Ron Artest made a four-foot runner to make it a one-point deficit with 45 seconds remaining. He drew an offensive foul on Paul Pierce on the next possession. And Kobe Bryant nailed a game-winning shot with 7.3 seconds remaining. The Lakers weren't as fortunate the following day in a 95-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The final minutes accurately reflected the Lakers' overall sluggish play. Odom missed a layup, Bryant missed a three-pointer and Odom was called for a foul on Zach Randolph. Bryant answered Randolph's two free throws with a trey. He answered Rudy Gay's three with a three of his own to make it 95-93. But he didn't answer on the final play, passing the ball to Artest in the corner, resulting in a missed three-pointer.

A similar scenario played out nearly a week earlier. In the Lakers' 98-92 victory Jan. 18 over Orlando, reserves Shannon Brown (22 points) and Jordan Farmar (11 points) helped the Lakers put together a 98-92 victory on a night Bryant didn't shoot well (four of 19 shooting) and Bynum didn't feel well (flu-like symptoms). But in the Lakers' 93-87 loss Jan. 21 to the Cavaliers, Gasol's two missed free throws that could've tied the game with 24 seconds remaining proved costly.

Inconsistency

Even with quick-turnarounds and close contests that can come down to a few plays, the Lakers mostly just leave themselves and fans guessing what kind of team will show up on a particular night. How else to explain the difference between the Lakers' 121-103 victory Nov. 12 against Phoenix followed by the 105-79 loss the next night to Denver? Against the Suns, the Lakers led by as many as 27 points, Andrew Bynum scored his fifth double double of the season after not playing the past eight days and the team played as if it didn't matter Gasol missed his eighth consecutive game because of an injured right hamstring. Against Denver, Bryant remained scoreless in the second half, Fisher didn't score at all in 23 minutes and Artest had trouble guarding Denver forward Carmelo Anthony (25 points). 

Inconsistency also proved to be the case between the Lakers' 92-83 victory March 24 over San Antonio Spurs followed by their 91-75 loss March 26 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. 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, he 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.

Nonetheless, Odom appeared to be the least worried about the Lakers' continuous inconsistency. Call it part of his laid-back demeanor. But also chalk it up to Odom's wanting to cling on what the Lakers are doing well, and build off it. With five games remaining, however, the opportunities to do that continues to dwindle.

-- Mark Medina

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

 
Comments () | Archives (30)

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Not sure how much momentum can be gained in the five remaining games ...
Here's to flipping the PLAYOFF SWITCH that improves first unit perimeter defense and shooting percentage.

MM, as usual excellent analysis on the once-again suddenly, pathetic lakers. failing to build on big wins, losing badly the next time. play like is a recipe for disaster. having not seen a lot of the lakers game, only the ones on tnt, espn and nbatv. i can't for the life of me understand the bench? everyone in the nba has a better bench than us. yes, we have a solid 5 in kobe, pau, l.o., artest and bynum. but as we all know they can't play all 48 minutes. i know we got the finals in 08, won it in 09 with less than stellar bench play. HOWEVER, every contender in nba has much stronger subs than us. i don't know if we can get away with this much longer. MM, you're seen them play the whole year.....WHAT IS THE BENCH'S PROBLEM? WHY ARE THEY NOT PERFORMING LIKE THEY SHOULD? how can jackson trust them in the playoffs? thank god L.A. doesn't have b2b games, 'cuz i can see right now kobe, pau, artest, l.o. logging 42,43 a game. lastly, i have a feeling bynum isn't going to be available at all for the playoffs, at least the first round.....what's your take on that? really worried in arizona! ha ha

Good read MM. PJ teams have shown a lack of killer instinct for sure in the last decade. The reason why the Bulls went for record wins is because they had that killer instinct. But honestly, and this is just an opinion, this team doesn't have to blow out every competition, nor do they really have to show a killer instinct at this point in time. To me that's most important during the playoffs and beyond. And while you practice what you play, last year's team (a team that would lose to the Bobcats yet beat the Celtics) showed that they're capable of exceeding expectations even in this instance.

JUSTANOTHERMAMBAFAN… “Laker Tom - exactly how many generations of Laker fans you got over there?? LOL!! I'm sitting on ONE - ME. But hey - never too late to start a new tradition, right?” LOL. Actually, we have some family photos with four generations, although I could never get my father, who is 93, to be a Lakers fan. My dad came from China at age 11 on a distant relative’s passport even though HIS father had worked as a coolie building the railroads in the West and bought had US citizenship after the San Francisco earthquake destroyed all the records, before returning to China. My dad actually is a big football fan (first the Green Bay Packers since we lived in Wisconsin and now the San Diego Chargers since he now lives there) but I could never get him interested in basketball, other than to come to my games in high school. As for my 2 granddaughters, they will be indoctrinated as soon as they are old enough to go to games and understand their responsibility to cheer and root for the Lakers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
LakerMike… “As a three-surgery vet (all on right knee, ACL no longer even exists!), please pass along my best regards to the wife. My prayers are with her (remind her that I am a pastor).” LOL. Another grizzled Lakers fan who has the injury scars to prove it. Personally, I have matching right and left Achilles tendon operation scars. You guessed it, from playing basketball. One when I turned 30 and the other right after turning 40. Just a warning to those younger fans who still like to play hoops. Enjoy those hops while you still have them. LOL.
~
“To the glee of LakerTom and all others who sing the praises of Andrew Bynum, it seems to be clear that the Lakers are a better team WITH Drew than without him. An analysis of "anti-Bynum" rhetoric on this blog reveals a definite shift from "trade-him-cause-he-is-OVERRATED" to the now popular "trade-him-cause-he-is-INJURY PRONE." The complaints against his talent are now few and far between. Quite telling, in my opinion.” Excellent point, Mike. My big concern is that you do not want Drew coming back too soon and tearing his Achilles. Even though the medical options today as a Laker are obviously better than in my day as a civilian, a tear would rank up there with his two knee injuries. I don’t think Drew will be back before the first round but I agree that he will have a much bigger playoff contribution this year, especially if we play the Celts or Cavs.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

Wouldn't it be great if Fish could play at the same level that he can speak.
I would give him an A for interviews. And an F for court play.

BOTTOM LINE: If they don't figure out what exactly their dynamic is, and if Kobe doesn't remember that he can always pass the ball and create plays rather than hold the ball until there is only second left and only pass as a last ditch effort.... Until they stop running the ball down court and making STUPID SHOTS with nearly a full shot clock remaining... WE WILL NOT REPEAT.
WISE UP. Bottom line. Kobe has not had the mentality that he had the last 2 years. He won a ring and now its gone. That is hurting the team.

In the words of Buzz "Jonny Boy K" Lightyear...LAKERS TODAY, LAKERS NEXT TUEASDAY, LAKERS IN 2002, LAKERS NOW, LAKERS LATER,LAKERS WHENEVER, LAKERS AT NOON, LAKERS FOREVER...GOOOOOOOO FAKERS!!!! TO INFINITY....AND BEYOND!!!

Posted by: Eric Wright

Eric you are cracking me up.

Despite what Kobe, Odom, Pau, Ron and Fisher keep on telling us that they should win all their remaining games in the regular season to build momentum going into the play-off, the mind knows they need to but the body cannot do so. That means that even if they know they need to win all the remaining games they can't do it, it's because they're not capable. This team will not repeat period. They need to address this summer what they are lacking why they were not able to win back to back. Bynum and Artest need to go for an all star caliber point guard. The bench should be upgraded and a reliable center should be sought by the management.

Eric and DFish are correct.

"Jonny Boy K" is annoying.

Momentum can be easy build, just one or two wins in the playoffs and we'll be back here happy as we can be.

So, we just need to wait and see which Lakers team are going to the playoffs. These 5 games can be a clue.....

...or not.

Cheers.

It's time to take THRILLER off his medication, he's playing nice ball, We don't need any more Damn NICE ball players we have enough with Pau, LO, Fish, Luke, Shannon, Farmar, Bymun, Josh. We need toughness like Rodman, the X-Man, Mo Lucas. Can I get an AMEN

Somebody on here yesterday posted a link of the 2010 free agent list.
The pg pool is weak, so it's clear we need to improve that position via trade.

The qusestion is: who is the odd man out?

I say Andrew.

He has tons of potential, but we need a quality guard.

If we pulled off a trade with the Wolves sending Bynum and a throw in for Jefferson and Rubio, Lamar could go back to the bench and we'd have a quality guard.

Bynum would be reunited with Rambis, whom Andrew responds the best to.
And the Lakers could cash in that favor Minny owes us for letting them hire Rambis before the possibility of him being a bust up there presents itself.

The difference between the Laker fans and the Cleveland fans is that the Cleveland fans trust their team to go deep into the playoffs.

Laker fans tend to ask too many questions.

IN NEED OF A THRILLER
Almost Is Good Enough,.. Episode 1, Season 1
The Moderator

.....

Some would argue that this season has been a disaster. Some may bring forth the attestation that the season has been a waste and a highly discouraging prequel to our playoff run. There are incessant posters who bring down 4-time Champions as they elevate the status of players who have yet to taste champagne from initial playoff bouts.

At this time, I'd like to formally give a shout out to Derek Fisher. Much love from the folks who respect the game for it's beauty and science.

On the outskirts of the chit-chatting masses, there stands a view different from anything read on this blog, the mass media complexes, or forums scattered through the known world. There is the view that this has been, so far, the perfect prequel to the perfect season.

Repeat the words and let them douse you with their spice and natural vigor.

This has been the perfect season.

The mind can not comprehend for our society, unfortunately, what the mind can't detect or react to from the five senses. There is, however, a sixth sense that can aptly be referred to in the larger context as the spirit. And from the depth of this perception, we make the statement.

This has been the perfect season.

You see, for one to truly understand joy, one must suffer. For one to grow find true growth in an ever simpler society, where success is measured by numbers and progress in the soul where success is immeasurable -- it is understood. However, when one understands the universe and the cosmic implications of things done in life, one can extract the truth from fact that is hardly evident to the naked eye.

I say that this season is the greatest in Laker history. I say that the losses and doubts and hardships and negative discourse makes for a finish that will shock the world. An ending that will truly be emblematic of a truly once in a lifetime player, an infallible coach, and a collection of players to be adored by the annals of history.

The playoffs start soon. For Kobe Bryant, the game changes. It is like photon energy thrusting it's love unto the earth to raise the collective awareness of the masses. You can try to obstruct it. You can deny it. You can hover a black cloud over it's impending light but you will not succeed. There is an imminent change to the mind which is sudden and profoundly great.

I say when the playoffs start Kobe Bryant will have one of the greatest singular greatest playoff runs in the history of the game. In the history of the known universe.

Many refer to 'the switch' as though it is tangible, physical object in someones control. The truth is that the switch is one that can only be activated by the spirit, and by metaphysical forces.

In the case of Kobe Bryant, the switch is the playoffs and the back against the wall, elimination game. From there, the chattering off the masses shuts off, the instruction of spiritual masters can be more easily understood, and the heart of a lion can be revealed in it's truest form.

...

What the team needs more than coaching, more than new players, more than just a simple win streak is a chance. It needs a moment. It needs a sword wielded from a rock that only one man can retrieve to be struck at the right time.

It needs a game in Denver.

It needs a thriller.

In it's darkest hour.

It needs a moment.

I say, it needs a thriller.

I say, it needs Kobe Bryant.

...

Spell Check Omitted,

The Moderator
Universal Love Corp.

HEY!

Stop bashing our bloggers-the guys that are true fans and always positive. Dialogue is one thing whining is another. Step up and support our first place team. Offer criticism, or start talking about what we need to do to repeat. If you don’t have faith go move to Cleveland, forecast high for Friday is 34 degrees with a chance of rust at the closed steel mill. LAKERS! Chance of sun and repeat-likely………

M

Their performance has been pathetic all year.

Posted by: Eric Wright

1st place in the Western Conference is pathetic? Really?

Curry,

"Laker fans tend to ask too many questions."

Cavaliers is the only game fun in Cleveland. Your fans are afraid to annoy LBJ and w/o him, there is no life with the Cavaliers. On the other hand, Laker fans ask questions because they are used to playoffs and Championship. We want answers on the court.

You may be a LBJ fan but what is nice about you, you come to this blog to share your views. You are not disrespectful to passionate bloggers who call you a troll.

laker fans are morons

the ones that are overly dramatic are morons actually.

Mark M,

"Lakers consistently demonstrate inability to capitalize off momentum "

A well-stated truth. At least they've been consistent, right?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

The Moderator,

"It needs a game in Denver.

It needs a thriller.

In it's darkest hour.

It needs a moment.

I say, it needs a thriller.

I say, it needs Kobe Bryant."

An extremely well-written and stylish post by you.

I've been arguing the same point for some time now.

This team does need a Road to Damascus/Game Seven Versus Houston moment. I'm confident it will come because that's kind of what happens in the playoffs. However, I also understand that many may not see that. They just see the inconsistency without taking into account the human element of the personalitites that compose this team.

The Lakes have ALWAYS been about drama. It is Hollywood after all. Stepping back from it all, the Lakers have consistently been a good story. In that way they reflect the soul of Los Angeles. It's a good story. Sometimes tragic. Often befuddling. But in the end triumphant.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

Curry,

"The difference between the Laker fans and the Cleveland fans is that the Cleveland fans trust their team to go deep into the playoffs."

The difference between Lakers fans and Cleveland fans are that Lakers fans are old money and expect excellence while Cleveland fans are new money and bask in success without a real understanding of the responsibility that comes with success.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

Troll here, Troll there, Troll every where, it's April! The playoff is around the corner. Trolls are restless and nervous!

Time to dust off our "Troll-busters" outfit off our closet...

Go Lakers!

jac,

"laker fans are morons"

I guess that's why we follow the most successful team in professional basketball.

Actually, I'd suggest that people who pop their heads in here, smugly throw out insults without merit, and then expect people to treat them with respect are less than morons. I'd call them "scum."

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

Wow, this blog has reached an all-time ultimate low..

Very disappointed..not feelin' this anymore!!


lakersrydeordie - hey sorry you feel this way about the blog...what's up? please tell me what's on your mind

MM

lakersrydeordie - hey sorry you feel this way about the blog...what's up? please tell me what's on your mind MM osted by: Mark Medina | April 08, 2010 at 08:30 AM

@MM don't take it personally Blog God. She just does not know what to do with her self till the game starts. I have one issue that I think the entire Blog agreess. We should have no more than three new threads a day, unless there is some breaking news. These threads are like conversations and when another one goes up it's like cutting the conversation off. most of us Lakers Blog fans are a relaxed bunch and we like going round after round on one subject. The variety of threadsis nice , but it does cut into the continuity in having a conversation if you know what I mean. Thanks for hearing me out. Oh Yeah I think the job ou're doing is...OUT FREAKIN STANDING!!!!!
Mamba(Larry)

Mamba 24 - Thanks for the feedback. I'm actually going to talk to Tony about this. I don't think this feedback has been anything particularly new and it is something I've been trying to tinker with. You may recall at the beginning I had a bunch of posts spaced out within an hour or so, not fully realizing how that disrupts the threads. At the same time, management wants to have as much content as possible spread throughout the day. As I'm sure you guys want so you can get your Lakers fix fully satisfied.

One of the things management has appreciated is your guys willingness to stay with us and was something they weren't sure was going to be possible. I'm been told and have noticed there have been people who have left, so this is something I take seriously. I want you guys to feel this is a community where you guys can interact while at the same time a place where you'll find the latest content. That being said, I acknowledge the balance has been far from perfect but my intentions are noble and I want to work together with everyone on this.

MM

@MM, Blog God at the end of the day you have exceeded our greatest expectations and for all you do I thank you. As you may know we like to whine & carp from time to time but on the whole, man you are great. Now we will work on getting you a raise! Lol!

Mamba24 - That would be awesome if you can pull that off. Please don't let me down. lol

MM


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