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Lakers' 97-82 loss to San Antonio Spurs reveals systematic problems

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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant arrived at At&T Center Tuesday for early shooting, hoping that would set the example for dogged preparation and trickle into the game against San Antonio. He publicly undressed his teammates after an embarrassing Christmas Day loss to Miami and reiterated his sentiments in a more subdued manner during the team's shootaround, hoping his demanding comments would light a fuse into his team. And he continued shooting throughout the contest against the Spurs, believing his scoring mentality would eventually lift the Lakers out of their current malaise.

Instead, the Lakers' 97-82 loss Tuesday to the San Antonio Spurs revealed the same problems.  The immediate worries: the Lakers (21-10) are trailing the Spurs (26-5) by six games for first place in the Western Conference standings. The Lakers suffered their third consecutive loss for the second time this season. And they have experienced these defeats by an average of 16 points, the first time since March 2007 that the Lakers have lost three consecutive games by double-digit margins.

The long-term worries: The Lakers appear nowhere near solving their current problems, though they'll have an opportunity to try Wednesday at New Orleans. Don't chalk this up to the Lakers mailing in a performance, however. The Lakers appeared very engaged, beginning with a Derek Fisher deflection and Bryant scoring eight of the team's first 10 points and ending with a 44-42 halftime lead and holding San Antonio to 40% shooting. But then the second half happened, where the Spurs outscored the Lakers by 17 points, held the Lakers to a team-high 35.4% mark from the field and featured four players in double digits, including the usual suspect in Tony Parker (23 points on 10 of 18 shooting), the continual improvement in Richard Jefferson (15 points), a season-high performance in DeJuan Blair (17 points on eight of 14 shooting and 17 rebounds) and bench support in George Hill (10 points).

The problems pointed to the top at Bryant, who with words demanded excellence but with actions displayed selfishness. His 21-point performance on eight of 27 shooting began with him positively setting the tone with a four of five mark but then negatively hurting the team with 13 consecutive misses. Through it all, Bryant refused to adjust to game scenarios, going one of of five in the third quarter, using three consecutive jumpers in the fourth quarter as false comfort he could lift the team back and even at one point waving away a screen so he could dribble and post up despite meeting double coverage.

"If I was playing, I probably wouldn't pass him the ball the next time," Jackson told reporters.

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The problems pointed in other directions. Lakers forward Pau Gasol had what Jackson described to reporters as a "bad game," finishing with nine points on three of eight shooting and displaying similar qualities that ailed him against Miami, including poor lift, hesitation, slow reaction on drives to the lane and unwillingness to find other ways to remain effective on a poor shooting night. Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who had played consistently for most of the season, scored only nine points on three of nine shooting, made lazy passes, was yanked for failing to box out Blair and appeared too passive to take over.

The Lakers appeared reluctant to accept that they've regressed in three-point shooting, going from a 41.2% clip in November to a 30.9% mark in December. Instead their eight of 23 mark provided another example why the Lakers need to work the ball inside. The only bright spot pointed to Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who had an efficient 10 points on four of four shooting in only 22 minutes, but even that presented some problems. That included his two of eight mark from the free-throw line, Steve Blake's poor entry passes to him and the team's overall unwillingness to grant him more opportunities.

All this disjointed mess points to the top where there's very little leadership and direction. Poor shot selection from Bryant and Fisher (one of four) trickled down to the backcourt reserves in Shannon Brown (one of 11) and Blake (one of six). Bryant and Fisher also displayed poor leadership. Bryant drew a technical foul for the third consecutive game, feeding into Hill's effort in baiting him. Fisher drew a technical foul after running halfcourt to Jefferson after he knocked him from behind. And Jackson's hands-off approach resulted in his players running around aimlessly.

The Lakers can solve these problems. But as they painfully found out in a critical game against a Western Conference team, that task requires a foundation and not an off/on switch.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers Coach Phil Jackson questions a call during the third quarter of the Lakers' 97-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. Credit: Eric Gay / Associated Press.

Photo: Lakers forward Pau Gasol, left, shoots over San Antonio forward Matt Bonner during the first half of the Lakers' 97-82 loss Tuesday. Credit: Soobum Im / U.S. Presswire

 
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Hey, maybe some of you Laker/Kobe/Phil/Pau haters are right. Maybe suddenly after winning two consecutive world championships we are too old and too slow. Maybe Kobe will never be the super-Kobe, the greatest-closer-ever-Kobe again. Maybe Pau will actually stay soft the rest of the season. Maybe Bynum won't get back into shape. And maybe Phil forgot, after 11 rings, what it takes and what moves to make to win a 12th ring.

But you know what, maybe not. Maybe you're wrong. And maybe that's what scares you guys into coming here in droves, like worms coming out when it rains hard. Maybe this is your one and ONLY chance to vent your frustration and anger at all the (cough***SIXTEEN***cough) times our STILL WORLD CHAMPIONS UNTIL SOMEONE BEATS US FOUR TIMES IN JUNE 2011 have thrashed your own pathetic (cough***loser***cough...I'm looking directly at YOU Sonnybelfast/Kings/Ducks/49ers***big-loogy-cough) teams. Yeah, maybe, just maybe, this is easier and a lot cheaper catharsis therapy/primal basketball fan scream therapy than a $300 an hour shrink. So, vent away, worms. We all know what happens when the sun eventually comes out.

So here's the deal. We true Laker fans are sticking by this team and this coach...no matter what. Maybe their time is indeed over...but maybe it isn't. And you better pray that you're right. Because if our STILL WORLD CHAMPION LOS ANGELES LAKERS do get it together, there is going to be some serious payback happening...both in the playoffs, and on this blog.

Now Phil's done it Watch Kobe not shoot this game two can play that game Phil Posted by: Troll Man | December 29, 2010 at 07:19 AM
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ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!! Preach Troll Man, Preach!!!!!!!!

G.Money - I did not read your past comments, nor should I have to... I'm sure more appropriate words, can be used to express your discontent is all I'm saying.

I don't think there's any need to make a trade. This team is still the most talented in the league.

I think they will figure it out. They're too talented not to.

But it does make you wonder why it's so difficult for them.

Some teams, like San Antonio, always seem to play up to the level of their own talent. But the Lakers for years have had great difficulty playing as well as their talent says they should.

It's not a question of Kobe shoot more or less. It's always been about whether they play as a team. That's the problem.

So here's the deal. We true Laker fans are sticking by this team and this coach...no matter what. Maybe their time is indeed over...but maybe it isn't. And you better pray that you're right. Because if our STILL WORLD CHAMPION LOS ANGELES LAKERS do get it together, there is going to be some serious payback happening...both in the playoffs, and on this blog. Posted by: CornerJ | December 29, 2010 at 07:29 AM
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HELL YEAH!!! LET’S RIDE AMIGOS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"If I was playing, I probably wouldn't pass him the ball the next time," Jackson told reporters.

Hey phil, well Kobe is playing, so can you imagine how he feels.
Passing it to fisher, who repeatedly is throwing up bricks
or passing it to artest, who reapeatedly is throwing up air balls
or passing to gasol, who constantly bobbles the ball cos he has ovaries instead of b@ll$.
So yeah phil, Kobes 2 steps ahead of you. He's playing and he ain't passing the ball.

Phil Jackson is not above approach, and people have the right to call into question his coaching without being branded “HATERS”. He was thoroughly out coached last night, and on Christmas Day.
When the team gets behind, I see no change in strategy or his demeanor. If your coach shows no passion; then how can you expect your team to react?
Look around the league at the various styles Pop in SA, Doc in Boston, etc. listen to the passion and encouragement that comes out of their mouths. Phil’s style may have worked in the past, but this is
This team clearly needs to be pushed harder. Hence, my call for Phil to do his job... Throwing Kobe under the bus is not the answer...

Tony Dude...shoud I write to meet your approval? in a more appropriate way that you may enjoy? GET a life CLOWN, I'm not the one.

GO HEAT

Now that the referees no longer honor D Fish's flops he really has nothing going for him and we need a PG who can move around a little bit.

Indiana has been trying to get rid of TJ Ford and he would be an improvement over Fish. If Luke didn't have two and a half years left on his contract Luke for Ford might work but that is another bad contract we have to deal with.


Rick F. - back in fine form. Love what you said and totally agree.

Think PJ is okay with these losses. He is an astute reader of the competition. During camp, PJ said Dallas and SAS were going to be good this year. So far, he's read it correctly. We have our work cut out for ourselves but I think the Lakers need the challenge. It's a little twisted but true Hollywood drama.

Let's face it, the West has had glimmers of competition. But the Lakers have been the golden child. Did we really believe that SAS would sit back and take yet another playoff beating? Duncan, Manu and Parker are champions as well - they have the eye of the tiger similar to the greenies 3 years ago. Lakers have to take it back.

Tonight would be a good start.

Cheers - PLG

I'm thinking tonight the rest of the Lakers are gonna see how hard life is without Kobe. I'm thinking zero attempts in the first quarter and maybe 2 or 3 in the second.

Kobe is without a doubt the most overrated media manufactured legend in the history of the NBA. In his prime he was one dimensional scorer. Now with his diminished physical skills, his scoring (8 for 27 last night) is even more inconsistent than in the past. He has never been a great passer. He has never been able to involve his team in any sort of game flow and his leadership skills are pissoff rather than a motivator for most of his teammates. The media created Kobe now let's see how they rationalize the obvious.

More on dfish:

Basketball is a game played on BOTH ENDS of the floor.. Every extra ounce of energy you have to expand on one side of the floor affects your efforts on the other side and vice versa.. Let me keep this simple and use the football analogy... Pretend PLAYER X on the opposing team only has to play offense but everyone else on our team has to play BOTH offense AND defense.. Is that fair? Of course not and over the course of 48 minutes players better rested can perform more consistently at a higher level esp at the end of games... Now unfortunately for the lakers that player X happens to be the starting PG opposite of DFISH every game.. When u have an offensively challenged soon to be 37 year old starting PG averaging 30 MIN a game with no speed no fast break skills no penetration skills then the game becomes VERY EASY no only from a physical standpoint but also mental.. How many times have you seen the opposing starting PG playing agressively with high confidence... Yes I bring you the DFISH EFFECT. For every action there is a reaction but in dfishs case for every lack of action there is a BIGGER REACTION... Simple enough??

Pop...4 rings
Doc...1 ring
Phil???...11 rings

ummmm...I'll go with Door #3, Tony. Just a hunch.

Laker fan-

Let the record reflect that I am showing compassion and Im not piling on this morning.

Ill patiently wait for PompousToms' analysis.

@ G.Money Dude – just using your elementary school writing style, to its full potential will do for now. Thanks!

Pop...4 rings Doc...1 ring Phil???...11 rings ummmm...I'll go with Door #3, Tony. Just a hunch. Posted by: CornerJ | December 29, 2010 at 07:52 AM
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You're on A Rolllllllll Corner J!!!!!!!

Pau says get him the ball more, then he just stands there. Pau toughen up!!! They say Kobe kept shooting, somebody had totry and get in groove. Pau needs to be more aggressive, go after the ball, block, use his height, he says the Lakers are not using his height, yet he stands under the basket just looking, Odom rebounds. Pau doesn't block shots or anything. If you want to trade, trade Pau's butt!!!!!!!!!! Pau never trys to put the team on his back and carry them. He just stands around.

11 rings worth of experience ,is not helping this team right now.
CornerJ, Just a thought...

Tony, I don't consider you a troll. Your comments are reasoned, thoughtful criticisms. I'm just saying that there's a kind of mad scientist/savant mind at work in Phil that doesn't always follow linear logic or the methods of other more modestly successful coaches. I'm on board until the train comes off the tracks...and the only tracks that count are in the playoffs. Carry on, my friend.

When Kobe takes 20 or less shots we win most of the time. When he takes more than that we lose most of the time. Guys end up standing around and it becomes 1 on 5. We need to run the triangle. I love Kobe, but he needs to take a step back and listen to PJ. It is not up to him when he goes in. IF PJ sends in a play, you freaking run the play. There are nights when he has a hot hand and the guys are glad to get it to him and watch him shoot the lights out. If he is missing, it is demoralizing for the whole team for him to just keep shooting anyway. Kwame said one time "When Kobe makes shots, we win. When he doesn't, we lose." He is not a rocket scientist, but right about that one. You are not going to make a lot of shots with 5 guys in your face.

Lamar - The x factor. He didn't bring it and we lost.

Pau - What up? He was so good when we were winning. Is he hurt? Did someone hurt his feelings? Did his girlfriend dump him? What up?

Fish - Love the guy. He makes great shots in big games. He consistently doesn't shoot well however and the guards on other teams consistently have career nights against him.

Shooters - We were shooting really, really well in the beginning of the season. Now it has gone south. They traded the best pure shooter on the team for a guy that will ride the bench the whole year. Sasha is shooting 42 percent for NJ and 39 percent from the three point line. He is perfect from the foul line through 5 games and is averaging 1.4 steals. Our guards combined to shoot 11 for 47 last night,

Age - We traded a bunch of young guys for a bunch of old guys? Farmar is averaging 10 point off the bench for NJ.

Team Spirit - There was a camaraderie that the team had before. Getting beaten by Boston made them brothers and they fought together to win two titles after that. That team has been broken up. A team that runs the triangle needs time to play together. Facing a lockout next year, I don't think this was the time for the big shakeup. The bench has only performed well at home against crappy teams.

Drew - We need you back in the starting line-up and we need to run the offense through you and Pau. This gives the team a huge advantage over most other teams. Hopefully, Lamar can handle coming off the bench.

PJ - You need to take Kobe aside and tell him he has to start doing what you say or you will retire. I would actually sit his ass down for a few games after last night. If anyone else on the team went against PJ like that, they would be riding the bench for a while. The team played well without Kobe last year. If we are playing well as a team without him, then put him back in and we will be unstoppable again. I know this won't happen because of Kobe's ego and Kobe wears the pants.

I am not looking forward to tonight’s game. It is painful to watch. When they are playing well and get beat by a team that is having a great night that is one thing, but they haven't been competing. If they could just leave it all on the floor, even if they lose, I wouldn't be that upset.

I am a Lakerholic.

Troll man, I didn't say Phil isn't frustrating and infuriating at times, but just that whatever it is that he does and however he does it, you have to admit it's pretty darn successful at achieving the ultimate goal...even if watching him do it is akin to watching sausage being made...looks disgusting, but tastes great when it's finished. Bon apetit.

Good grief, I can't keep up with trying to read all the posts, too many.
Guess the masses are getting restless, nice coming out party we got going here.
That's ok though.

Phil,

Just print out the blog and give it too the players to read, all the problems with the solutions are right here.
Really.
They are.

*yawn* ... wake me up in April ...

What up spurs? looks like u taking d west regular season title from us this season ... but u sure ain't beating us come playoffs ...

and @ d lakers ... wtf happened with all the 'move d ball' talk ... get it together people

Leave it to the blog cheerleaders to make everything nicey nice.
I'm sure they're sending the Lakers their happy holidays cards.

CornerJ, All I’m saying is Phil is not above approach; as many here seem to believe. His coaching style is not working now, it seems like the team is looking for answers, and not getting them. What I saw last night was the same mistakes repeated, Kobe feeling he needs to will the team to victory, frustration, confusion, etc. I'm on board until the train comes off the tracks as well...however, clearly the train is in need of some repairs, and better conducting before it derails. As a fan it’s annoying to see my team beat up, and not have the will to collectively fight back...

Troy,
[Look, the Lakers will not get out of the west this year, let alone win it all. Like another poster said, lets just enjoy the season and be happy with our 2 peat.]

lol ... really? ... understand this, the west is rejoicing in our demise ... the top guns in the east are breathing a sigh of relieve that they don't have to face us ... and why?

Cuz deep down nobody wants to face us when we're on our A game ... if y'all felt the lakers where playing at their peak and still losing then I'd concede we're witnessing the end ...

Every season holds a different challenge ... we've got another 4 months to figure it out

Mambrika accountable? a god never holds itself accountable.
Gasoft accountable? worst, he wants more touches, why?
Phillip accountable? where are the adjustments?
Fish accountable? what? aren't 2 points a game enough?
I get it. The Lakers will be happy with a 6th or 7th seed, as long as they're in the playoffs, right? That's when it matters?

This adversity is only going to make the Lakers stronger. No worries, Lakes WILL turn this around and I guarantee by mid April they will be hitting Championship stride.

I just need to vent here:

I love the Lakers and what they have done the past 3 years is phenomenal. What I do not like, and HATE to watch is:

1. Kobe playing 1 vs. 5; Why? He was making all of his open, spot-up shots, so why not pass the ball around, find your spot on the floor, and wait for the open spot-up shot! Why do you have to dribble and shoot 23 of the 24 seconds?

2. Lamar playing like nothing matters, as if this was a pick-up game in the park. I don't want to see you smiling when you miss a shot or foul somebody 80 feet from the basket...I want to see yelling and screaming like Garnett. Quit making freakin' Matt Bonner look like an All-World Defender.

3. Gasol playing like a deadwood. No life, no aggressiveness! C'mon, hack some of these little punks that dare come into the paint...make them think twice about going inside. And getting outplayed by a 6-6, 6-7 player (Blair), please!

Unless the above items are remedied, and: Fisher starts defending, Artest starts making his shots, and everyone starts passing the ball around, playing solid defense, and just showing some heart, this is SO UGLY to watch I just won't. And for all the so called "die-hard" Lakers fans here, I don't even care if this team wins or loses, it's how they play that really makes them unwatchable and downright annoying. This is not Lakers basketball, it's not even TEAM basketball...it's a travesty and disrespect to all the Lakers teams in history.

when Kobe did pass the ball what did his teammates do with it?! Fisher bricks, Gasol bricks, Artest brick brick brick. Odom shooting perimeter shots with Bonner guarding him insteading of taking this guy off dribble! spurs were smothering kobe and he got no help. none! at least kobe was trying. his teammates kept passing the ball back to him what do u think he was going to do with it?! i'm just dumbfounded as to how a team coming off a championship can be playing so poorly. Thank goodness its happening at beginning of season and not the end!

Kobe is going to be making $30,000,000 and killing our salary cap when he is 35.

YIKES!

What struck me was the way the Spurs moved the ball. Side to side quickly. I was very impressed. The Lakers came with enthusiasm but lost the energy to chase the ball over the corse of the game.

I watched some European ball last year, including the exhibition games the Lakers played. I can't help but wonder if this style of offensive play is the future in the NBA. It seems to me, if you swing the ball quickly the way the Spurs do, you can still run a play and generate a desired shot within the confines of the 24 second shot clock. I was impressed with Spurs as they had the Lakers D running all over the court playing catch up.

Offensively, the Lakers again were poor, poor, poor. I go back to lobbying for Kobe to become a pass first player and I think the Lakers should strongly consider moving Fish to a situational role.

The Lakers haven't been moving the ball well. Players hold the ball - especially Kobe, looking to make a move to score or pass. Meanwhile, the defense keys in - especially on Kobe. Isn't the triangle predicated on ball movement? Where is the coaching?

There was a stark contrast between the Lakers and Spurs regarding team play and ball movement. The Lakers strength is under the basket. They should be moving the ball, thus moving the defense and creating passing lanes to the post.

This is a mental thing and a strategy thing, not a talent thing.

Regards,
DKWSFO

*** MITCH my apologies for leaving most of your comment off of the Bandwagon above. Correction Folows
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I’M ON BOARD UNTIL THE TRAIN COMES OFF THE TRACKS…AND THE ONLY TRACKS THAT COUNT
ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS – BANDWAGON
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http://tinyurl.com/262gvke - Kobe Bryant - The Worlds Greatest
http://tinyurl.com/ybowh6l _ Kobe Bryant - Greatness Personified
http://tinyurl.com/2dh8ekd__ Kobe Bryant - SIMPLY THE BEST
http://tinyurl.com/24gl97s _ Kobe Bryant - HATE ME!!!!
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(01) CORNER-J – OWNER - So here's the deal. We true Laker fans are sticking by this team and this coach...no matter what. Maybe their time is indeed over...but maybe it isn't. And you better pray that you're right. Because if our STILL WORLD CHAMPION LOS ANGELES LAKERS do get it together, there is going to be some serious payback happening...both in the playoffs, and on this blog. . I'm on board until the train comes off the tracks...and the only tracks that count are in the playoffs. Carry on, my friend.


(17) Mitch – Trolls - I sympathize with you. It must be very difficult for you to go through life being not only ignorant, but obnoxious as well. Take solace in the fact that there are many therapies out there that you might benefit from including lobotomy. ( My guess is that lobotomy is probably your best chance for success ) Do everyone a favor, put down the crack pipe and seek help. Now would be a good time.
(18) PURPLE HEART - This adversity is only going to make the Lakers stronger. No worries, Lakes WILL turn this around and I guarantee by mid April they will be hitting Championship stride.
(19) LONGTIMELAKERLOVER - I love my team and I always will. I think they'll turn it around. I hope they will. I'm bleeding that purple and gold.

Kobe is going to be making $30,000,000 and killing our salary cap when he is 35.

YIKES!

Posted by: Jolly Joe | December 29, 2010 at 09:08 AM

Dont know if you remember my posts last year about the fact that the Lakers would be in salary cap hell? But what do I know ... Im just a Celtic troll!

If my math is correct ... Kobe, Pau and the Beast will make 60 mill between them. That puts them over the cap!

Ill wait for the resident Capologist to confirm this!

Tony the CLOWN- regardless how you may feel regarding my writing Miss. Ph.d, as long as IDIOTS like yourself get the Point.

G.Money – my opinion of your writing, doesn’t explain your inability to communicate beyond an elementary school level. But please, do carry on and continue to prove me correct...

The formula is simple: we have 2 stars on this team. One of them must play well in every game against teams that are over .500. Kobe can have an off night and Pau can pick up the team - which is what got the Lakers off to their hot start. Pau can have an off night and Kobe can pick up the team (which has rarely happened this season.) But both can not have an off night and expect their teammates to carry the game for them. It just won't happen. Kobe has not been the same player since Jordan Farmar's pass broke his index finger last season. He should have shut it down then and there for 2 months. He chose to play through it and now has permanent damage. He needs to take care of his finger(s) in the off-season - even if it means missing the first few months of the 2011-2012 season. Hell, a lock-out might actually be a blessing for him! He's shown a shooter's touch sporadically since he broke his finger; but the consistency fans expect out of Kobe has not been there. Now when he drives the lane, I expect the ball to be slapped out of his hand - how can he have any control with 3 good fingers? I have faith that his knee will get back in decent shape; but Kobe needs to look in the mirror and realize that his desire to play through the pain has hurt his team. Shut it down this summer 24!

We need Daffy Duck from Space Jam so that Kobe can say "You da Duck!" and win back our players' BB Skills from the Aliens...

Posted by: The Triangulator | December 28, 2010 at 10:43 PM

That is one of my favorite movies. The Lakers as they currently are, do seem like they've had their mojo and swagger stolen by little aliens. Perhaps Kobe can get his old wish after all, go to Pluto, play a game and win the mojo back for his team.

On a more serious note, yesterday's game was beautiful to see for the first few minutes when the Lakers were playing as they should. Running the offense, shots falling, and everyone seems to know what to do. They fought for the first half and then faced total collapse. By the end of 3rd quarter I knew the game was out of reach. It's not that the Lakers didn't try. This time I know they wanted to right the ship and came out guns blazing. But as I've quoted Aristotle time and time again, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit." There is no such thing as an on/off switch. There is only good habits that are practiced again and again to the point it becomes automatic and you no longer have to think about it again - it just is.

The Lakers simply have to execute better, again and again and again until it becomes ingrained. As they say, "Use it or lose it." Whatever tacit knowledge they've acquired as a team to win past championships is now moot because the dynamics of this team has changed. The fundamentals and playing well have to be learned again, AS A TEAM.

In learning psychology, there is a whole body of research on team mental model. A triangle offense is a team mental model - something everyone buys into and execute with commitment. At the same time, team members must know about and practice teamwork skills required for successful performance. There has to be a "shared awareness" of what they need to achieve and execute, "performance monitoring and feedback" from players to one another and from coaches, "adaptability" to changes in situations, "leadership" that demonstrates examplar performance and motivation for other team members, "interpersonal relations" that demonstrate trust and desire to see other team members succeed, "coordination" of basic tasks, "communication" on offense and defense, and good "decision making" in executing team defense and offense. These are competencies a good team needs and a breakdown in any of these components will lead to the team dynamics going haywire. Look back at the Lakers' last few games when we got blown out and you'll see the elements mentioned above to be missing, barely in existence, or worse, simply flouted.

No one denies the talent this Lakers team has. Even Jerry Buss acknowledges that this is possibly one of the most stacked team we've ever assembled. Mitch Kupchak has earned his stripes as an astute GM who knows what he's doing. So this team is complete. What's missing is not just guts and desire, but the team skills they need to get going again. Their 8-0 performance at the start of the season was adrenaline talking, an easy schedule, and Lamar Odom's rush from Team USA. Once that initial high comes down to mundane levels (82- game grind, anyone?) something else needs to take over, something much more fundamental - that's basic team competencies to harness and fully utilize the various talents we have.

Just my humble opinion on this matter from a learning psychology and human performance point of view.

@dkwsfo

You are soooooo right! That is exactly why the Spurs are doing so well and the Lakers have sunk to the bottom of the ocean. Team ball=passing the rock around=defenders scrambling for it=win; Lakers ball=Kobe dribbling, Kobe dribbling, Kobe dribbling, Kobe shooting over 4 or 5 defenders, Kobe dribbling...=loss. Hmmm...that's a tough one to figure out Kobe. I doubt even the fastest man on earth can cover 2 or 3 quick passes in a row between players, but even 100 year old grandpa can stay in front of you when you dribble and dribble all game long.

When you have a coach who plays his teammates against each other you don't have a team.Very rarely would a teammate complain about the captain of the team in public like Gasol did to be honest this team is not gettin along,thanks to Phil who broke up the Bulls before he left.Even Kobes teammates know they can throw the ball to Kobe at the last second and Kobe would get the blame even though he is triple teamed.When Phil Jackson wrote that book about Kobe he should never have agreed to him being his coach .I personally think that the team is out of sink because Phil Jackson has Gasol thinking that he should be the head of the Lakers and even if he plays bad the blame is going on Kobe I say trade him and Lamar for some real ballers people that like to shoot the ball not stand around and blame Kobe for shooting ,after all that is what the game is about if you can't or won't shoot how are you a basketball player.

Lakers couldn't shoot, couldn't get back on defense fast enough, and the Spurs played in a frenzy in front of their hime court. End of story. No one said the NBA wasn't the best competion in the world. Of course other teams are going to sometimes outclass us in single games, does this mean you can stick a fork in the Lakers? No I don't think so. I contend a 7-game series is an entirely different test.

Lakers do look slower though, and PJ should have jiggered the line-ups to get quicker. Pop is brilliant to move to a fast-break offense to take advantage of their fast and accurate guards. What is the Lakers competetive advantage? Ball-movement, excellent passing? I didn't see that last night.

If I were Phil I would set the goal tonight and every game for 25 assists. That starts with Kobe. I would also task Artest with setting 50-75 picks or screens per night on offense and defense, to create space for others. The on-on-one play is always the demise of the triangle offense. Right?

Tony Parker was downcourt before Bynum, LO, or Pau, which is to be expected, but the 1,2 & 3 position need to realize they better cover better in transition defense. What worries me is that Bynum can't get back on defense very fast. To cover for him, I would like to see the pairing of Bynum and Barnes, with Barnes in transition defense, he is faster than Artest. The pairing of Bynum and Artest might not make sense.

What bothers me even more is that LO and Pau were often out of position for the rebound when Bynum shot it. Somebody should pick off LO's or Pau's defender to free one of them up for the rebound.

Does anyone think the Blair kid plays like Paul Silas of old? Not too tall, but try to push him out of the paint.

spurs are 27 - 4

 
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