The Lakers used to walk out of their locker room and casually wander into 110 points a night, no problem.
But the last few weeks? Big problem.
They’ve failed to break 100 in seven of their last nine games, the exceptions coming against Sacramento and Washington, teams whose season-long slogans might as well be “Defense = afterthought.”
The Lakers’ shooting has dipped steadily, be it Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol, who never seem to shoot well on the same night.
On top of it, the Lakers are foundering with a 6-5 road record, well below the 8-1 marks of Western Conference front-runners San Antonio and Dallas.
“I’m really concerned,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Friday, pausing for dramatic effect. “But I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”
Instead of panicking, the Lakers are waiting.
Waiting for Andrew Bynum to return, waiting for Theo Ratliff to come back, waiting for something to stimulate them on their road to a possible “three-peat.”
Maybe it will be that Dec. 25 game against Miami. Maybe it will be a steady stream of tough road games that starts at the end of this month with a back-to-back in San Antonio and New Orleans. Maybe it will be the return of their two centers, both of whom are recovering from knee surgeries.
In the meantime, the Lakers (16-7) need timelier shooting from Gasol and Bryant to get a victory Sunday over New Jersey (6-17).
Gasol was fine Friday against Chicago, making nine of 15 attempts, but he shot only 38.7% in the six games before that, numbingly low accuracy for him. Bryant had been the opposite, on a four-game average of 50% accuracy before a nine-for-23 effort against Chicago.
Gasol and Bryant haven’t had great shooting efforts in the same game since a Nov. 17 victory in Detroit.
“We’re shooting poorly. That’s a big difference,” Jackson said after the Lakers’ 88-84 loss in Chicago.
“Guys were long, inconsistent. We made one outside shot in the first half. That’s just not a professional response to this game.”
Said Bryant: “It was just an ugly game.”
How’s he doing?
The Lakers will run into a familiar face Sunday against New Jersey.
Former Lakers and UCLA guard Jordan Farmar is averaging 10.4 points and 4.6 assists in his first season with the Nets.
He had some notable games while subbing for injured starter Devin Harris earlier this month, including 28 points and nine assists in a triple-overtime loss to Oklahoma City and a 16-point, 10-assist game against Charlotte.
Farmar, 24, signed a three-year, $12-million deal last July to join the Nets. The Lakers were not interested in keeping him.
He averaged 6.9 points and 2.1 assists in his four-year career with the Lakers.
The Lakers play the Nets at 10 a.m. Pacific time Sunday, the first of two games on their six-game trip that start that early.
The Lakers also play at 10 a.m. PST against Toronto a week from Sunday.
The two games are easily the earliest tipoff times for the Lakers this season.
Photo: Kobe Bryant soars in for a reverse layup against against Taj Gibson and the Bulls on Friday. Credit: Tannen Maury / EPA