Before the Lakers jetted off and went their separate ways during NBA All-Star weekend, there was still one matter to discuss: That touchy subject of the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That game provided all indications that the Lakers were ready for the All-Star break before it actually began, so it was a tad ironic that attitude made it necessary for the Lakers to delay it as they discussed the current state of their play.
"We have talked," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said Friday during his media interview session as part of the NBA All-Star festivities at the J.W. Marriott hotel in downtown L.A. "We talked as a team. We talked and we addressed certain things. Hopefully we'll see a difference."
The scavenger hunt remains active for exactly what topics made the Lakers' minutes during their team meeting; Gasol didn't offer many specifics. But there's one item to cross off, according to Gasol -- dissension. There's also one topic that the team surely discussed at length: the Lakers are lacking consistent chemistry.
"Understanding the situation we're in and putting everything aside and appreciating and knowing we're there for a reason," Gasol said when asked what the team emphasized during the meeting, which he said also included the Lakers' coaching staff. "We're all in this and we can't make this worse and we have to play right. It won't happen by people trying on their own. As much as you can try individually, you have to put your efforts together in order to accomplish the team's success. ... It's not like our team is not together or we have problems internally. It's just we haven't been playing as well as we should for whatever reason. That's something we're trying to fix."
There are surely plenty of items. The first obviously entails avoiding losing to teams with the league's worst record. But that's only a fragment of their problems. The Lakers (38-19) aren't in any realistic position to surpass the San Antonio Spurs (46-10) for the top spot in the Western Conference, and they're constantly having to monitor the Dallas Mavericks (40-16) above them and the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-19) below them, so any additional losses could have tangible ramifications in playoff seeding. The Lakers have fallen near the middle of the pack in both offense (102.25 points a game, eighth in the NBA) and defense (96.4 points, 11th), field-goal percentage (46.8%, seventh) and assists (22.07, ninth).
But the Lakers' inconsistent performances make it difficult to accurately gauge the team. It was just last week, after all, that the Lakers' 4-0 start to a seven-game trip, including a crucial win at Boston, had assuaged fears about the state of the team and whether Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak would make any trades. Kupchak said that it's "unlikely" the team will make a trade before the Feb. 24 deadline, but didn't rule out making a move that would give the Lakers a better shot at three-peating. The Lakers' seemingly never-ending pendulum swing in performances also makes it hard for Gasol to accurately point to where the problem lies.
"There's been a lot of hot and cold this year and a lot of contrasts unfortunately," Gasol said. "We need to find a certain level of consistency. I think we can do that. I don't know about trades. I don't know what's going to happen. I have no control over that. I think with the team we have and the weapons we have on our team, we should be perfectly fine. Things are not clicking at this particular time."
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Photo: Pau Gasol faces the media onslaught during Friday's session at the NBA All-Star weekend. Credit: John G. Mabanglo / EPA