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Lakers' identity remains flimsy

February 13, 2012 |  8:00 am

Kobe Bryant

Setting foot in Los Angeles for the first time in 10 days, the Lakers hardly return home with more of an identity than when they left.

Their 3-3 record during a six-game trip doesn't exactly spur optimism that they've finally adapted to Mike Brown's system, or that their personnel is equipped for a championship run. Yet their performance during the "Grammy Trip" shouldn't exactly cause pessimism that the Lakers won't develop quickly enough for a postseason post.

For better or worse, though, the Lakers showed enough inconsistent traits to make it hard to read the team's current state.

It's become expected for Kobe Bryant to bail the Lakers out of poor performances, such as when he nailed a game-winner Sunday in the team's 94-92 win against the Toronto Raptors. But he also proved destructible when he went one for 10 in the fourth quarter of the 95-90 loss last week to the Philadelphia 76ers.

In that game, the Lakers gained some satisfaction from seeing an efficient Andrew Bynum, who went eight of 13 from the field. But later that week, Bynum played with such little efficiency against New York that he took personal responsibility for not bringing the proper effort.

Bynum's sudden disappearance hardly marked the biggest problem against New York. There, Jeremy Lin revealed himself as the real deal while taking advantage of the Lakers' sluggish backcourt that won't improve unless the front office acquires a point guard before the March 15 trade deadline.

The Lakers still eagerly welcomed back backup guard Steve Blake after he missed the past 13 games with a rib injury. His presence has to be a plus for the reserve unit, which continues to offer little to no consistency. But his four-of-17 shooting effort through two games shows that Blake isn't yet ready to help a backcourt consisting of a slow and poor-shooting Derek Fisher and an inexperienced Andrew Goudelock.

Even with all these aforementioned weaknesses in previous seasons, the Lakers could always rely on closing games out. Credit them for showing that capability against Boston (Pau Gasol blocked a shot at the buzzer on Ray Allen), against Toronto (Bryant made the game-winner) and Denver (Fisher made a steal and late-game jumper). Criticize the Lakers for forgetting how to keep their composure against Utah (Mike Brown was ejected) and Philadelphia (surrendered a seven-point fourth-quarter lead).

Whether the Lakers can fix these issues remains to be seen. But as they showed in their latest six-game trip, they're nowhere near fixing them.


Lakers' six-game trip will reveal identity

— Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives against Raptors guard Jose Calderon in the first half Sunday in Toronto. Credit: Nathan Denette / Associated Press / Feb. 12, 2012.