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Six things to take away from Lakers' 114-95 loss to Clippers

December 19, 2011 | 10:55 pm

Kobe Bryant

1. Lakers have a lot of work to fix on defense. Amid Mike Brown's positive coach-speak, he's been openly critical of the Lakers' inconsistency on transition defense, defensive rotations and team communication. The Lakers' 114-95 exhibition game loss Monday to the Clippers perfectly demonstrated that. They struggled closing out on the perimeter. Any turnover quickly revealed the Lakers' slow response in getting back on defense. Steve Blake showed great aggressiveness in limiting Chris Paul as much as he can, but the Lakers clearly looked lost in packing the paint. At first, the Lakers appeared engaged in this area in the first half. But once the Clippers established a 36-17 lead, things went quickly astray.

2. Lakers don't feel comfortable with the offense. Save for Kobe Bryant's sharp shooting, Josh McRoberts' hustle points, Pau Gasol's efficient footwork and Darius Morris' surprisingly solid outside shooting, the Lakers looked lost on offense. They never felt fully comfortable in establishing Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the post. Their passes often went astray. They rarely attacked the clock with purpose. Lots of communication and execution issues to sharpen there too.

3. Metta World Peace looks horrible as a bench leader. He may have changed his name, but World Peace's shooting appears just as bad as Ron Artest's. He took open looks, but he doesn't have the form to knock down shots, resulting in three points on zero-of-eight shooting. Yet, World Peace stubbornly kept firing away. His passes went astray. And for someone who's supposed to hold the reserves accountable for their execution, he failed horribly. 

4. Bryant looks healthier. Save for two falls that left Staples Center gasping, Bryant looked much healthier than in recent seasons, finishing with a team-high 22 points on five-of-10 shooting and a 12-of-15 clip from the free-throw line. Bryant's improved health allowed him to attack the basket with aggressiveness. He appeared to have more spring in his shots. And he looked more fluid in running around the court. 

5. McRoberts should fit in nicely with the Lakers.  The Lakers clearly miss Lamar Odom, his versatility and ability to create his own shot. But McRoberts has shown he can instantly help this team solely through his hustle. That, alone, created a nifty alley-oop lob from Bryant and a smart pass to Gasol inside on back-to-back possessions. Though McRoberts feels behind on the offense, that kind of play immediately gives the Lakers energy. 

6. Devin Ebanks played better than Matt Barnes at small forward. Barnes started at small forward and has a rightful advantage because of his experience. But his zero points on 0-of-3 shooting and one turnover in 10 minutes hardly helped his cause. Meanwhile, Ebanks played in the second half, scoring seven points on three-of-three shooting. Brown won't make a decision solely on one exhibition  performance. But this could certainly sway his opinion.

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, hugs Clippers guard Chris Paul before the start of Monday's exhibition game at Staples Center. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press


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