The Los Angeles Lakers return home winless 0-2 for the first time since the 2002 – 2003 season and the fifth time since 1980. The Lakers find themselves looking up in the Pacific Division standings to the likes of the Clippers, Kings, Warriors and Suns. The purple and gold finish playing their back-to-back-to-back games early; their third game in three days.
The task at hand for the Lakers is a difficult one but not impossible. Immediately after two games of a 66-game season is not the time for the Lakers Nation to panic. Granted, it is never easy dealing with a new coach, new system (both offensively and defensively), new players, no Andrew Bynum, an aging group of guards in a shortened season. Winning is a deodorant that cures everything that ails a team and the Lakers are still seeking to hit the underarms with a thin layer.
Despite the reality, that it appears that other teams view the Lakers like sharks sensing blood in the water. However, the fact of the matter is there are no excuses, the Lakers will improve through hard work, but it will take time. Lakers fans have to be patient with this team and give them time to gel into a cohesive unit. In time the Lakers will not revert back to old habits defensively.
Unlike the season opener, last night’s game against the Kings did not provide nearly enough positive takeaways. There were a few positives Kobe Bryant leading L.A. with 29, Metta World Peace leading the bench players with 19, committing ONLY 11 turnovers and the Kings missing 14 free throws. Conversely, to shoot 6.3% from behind the arc with Jason Kapono on the bench is unacceptable.
The Lakers played with no energy as if they were all wearing cement shoes. L.A. did not have the same defensive effort against the Kings as they did against the Bulls. L.A allowed the backcourt (Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans) to combine for 47 points and anyone else in a Sacramento jersey to attack the lane with impunity.
The three individual match-up’s that L.A. needs to win are Kobe Bryant vs. Raja Bell, Pau Gasol vs. Al Jefferson and Devin Ebanks vs. Gordon Hayward. The bench needs to be a factor, players have to knock down shots and produce 35+ points with everyone contributing.
The Lakers need to control the tempo of the game and not allow the Jazz to get into transition. L.A. needs to play with a high energy level, sense of urgency, focus and determination. Defensively, L.A. has to get back in transition and most importantly take care of the ball to eliminate turnovers.
The purple and gold have to stop the dribble penetration of Devin Harris, do a good job defending the screen and roll play, close the lane, everyone needs to get involved to out-rebound the Jazz, limit Utah to one shot per possession and quickly rotate out to open shooters.
The Lakers have to continue to develop their young players. It is imperative that the Lakers get help from the young legs that they have on the roster. It would behoove the purple and gold to provide more meaningful minutes to Devin Ebanks, Darris Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Josh McRoberts.
Lakers:D. Fisher, K. Bryant, D.Ebanks, J. McRoberts, P.Gasol
Jazz: D. Harris, R. Bell, G. Hayward, D. Favors, A. Jefferson
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- Utah: TNT
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Utah: 1320 AM KFAN (David Locke, David James & Patrick Kinehan)
- Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
- Devin Ebanks (Sore Right Foot) Probable
- Kobe Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Will Play
- Andrew Bynum (Suspension, game 3 of 4)
- PF Paul Millsap (Quadriceps Tendinitis) Day-to-Day