Lakers face tougher challenges on the road
Just before Lakers forward Pau Gasol entered the training room, Andrew Bynum stopped him.
"What's the difference, man," Bynum said, "with us on the road?"
Gasol had just spent five minutes analyzing the disparity between the 18-12 Lakers' records at home (13-2) and on the road (5-10) after practice Saturday at the Lakers' facility. So Bynum figured he'd just consult his teammate so he could repeat the same answers to reporters.
"I told them about the consistency factor," Gasol said with a smile. "We're not as consistent on the road as we have been at home."
Bynum smiled and then turned toward a small group of reporters: "We're not as consistent as we are at home."
Every Laker can agree on that. But they're stuck for answers about the reasons behind their being one of only three Western Conference playoff teams with a losing road record . . . or whether the inconsistency will end when the Lakers play the Suns (12-19) Sunday in Phoenix.
The Lakers' offense remains in flux. Consider their home-road discrepancy in points (95.6, 90.7), shooting percentage (47.5%, 42.6%) and assists (23.5, 18.3).
Strength of schedule figures prominently, as well. Eight of their 15 home games have been against teams that wouldn't make the playoffs if the season ended today, while 11 of their 15 road games have been against playoff-caliber opponents. And the Lakers had a much easier time when they hosted New York with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire than when the played at New York with Jeremy Lin.
The compacted schedule has proved more challenging on the road. The Lakers can partly explain their 1-3 mark on the second night of back-to-back road games because they arrived in Utah and New York at 3 a.m. The Lakers lost 96-87 to the Jazz on Feb. 4 and 92-85 to the Knicks on Feb. 10.
"Your body feels it," Gasol said. "You try to go to bed as soon as you can."
The Lakers will have to get used to that. On Wednesday and Thursday they have a back-to-back at Dallas (20-11) and Oklahoma City (23-7). Next month brings Tuesday-Wednesday road back-to-backs at Detroit and Washington (March 6-7), Memphis and New Orleans (March 13-14) and Houston and Dallas (March 20-21).
"What a crazy month," Bynum said with a laugh. But he may not be laughing then. Bynum has been notably inconsistent between games at home (17.1 points, 57.3% shooting) and on the road (15.7, 52.6%).
Coach Mike Brown doesn't want to get caught up in the Lakers' road struggles. It appears to simply reflect the ongoing inconsistency in the team's development process.
"It's not like we've blown anybody out," Brown said. "All of our games have been tough."
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