The worst thing about the Los Angeles Lakers losing to the Milwaukee Bucks? Not just their sixth defeat in a row, but part of a three-game series that ended in losses against the three worst teams in the NBA according to their record. If things carry on this way the Lakers are going to replace on of them soon enough.
The Lakers lost 79-94 at home to the Bucks, missing their first 11 shots, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter and scoring only 12 points in that first period. Pau Gasol was back in the lineup scoring 25 points, and so was Nick Young, not starting on the bench anymore, adding 25 of his own. However, everything that worked well for the Lakers before the Kobe Bryant return seems to have disappeared, and suddenly having to play without him for a second time is proving too much for this bunch.
We are down at the bottom. The injuries have torn everybody up, but we have to band together and figure it out. I thought Pau played hard, though he was rusty at first. He didn’t look good in the first quarter, but then he picked it up.
D’Antoni is trying everything he can. He has now played with 8 different lineups in as many games, and has used 17 different lineups in 32 games this season. That hasn’t stopped the Lakers from going 13-19, their worst new year’s record since the 2002-2003 season, when they started out in the same way following a third consecutive NBA title.
The Bucks got a huge night from Brandon Knight, scoring 37 points on 15-of-25 from the field. Against a defense like the Lakers put in front of him it wasn’t that hard. He just picked up the ball and went coast to coast without anyone really bothering him. The Bucks shot 44% from the field, but had a huge advantage on the board, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds and winning the rebounding battle 51-39, winning for only the fourth time in 16 road games this season.
Wo what’s going wrong for the Lakers? Not having a consistent hierarchy has to hurt. Not having Steve Blake, who had a huge part to play before Kobe Bryant returned, is also quite damaging, with Jordan Farmar and Kendall Marshall unable to do the same job as he did. Simply playing bad is never the answer, and there’s no actual tanking go on because there’s no clear definition of who is a starting player and who is coming off the bench.
Surprisingly, the words of encouragement came from Caron Butler, a former Clippers player and now coming off the bench for the Bucks, who thinks the Lakers will figure it out eventually.
I know an historic franchise like the Los Angeles Lakers will be fine. Not having Jerry Buss at the helm anymore is a significant loss, but Jeanie and Jim and the rest of the Buss family know the business of basketball. They know the legacy of their father, and to restore that would be a wonderful feeling.
The Lakers don’t tank, and the Lakers don’t rebuild, they retool. Never minding the semantics or the exact definitions, the Lakers are looking terrible even without having any intention to play this bad, which makes this part of their ongoing downward spiral even more frustrating for their fans to watch.