So we’re a quarter of the season into the 2012-2013 NBA season, and the team that made the most noise during the off season still can’t pick up off from mediocrity, let alone simply being bad. They’re 9-12, still without Steve Nash. They’re without Pau Gasol and seem to be losing him forever at the current pace, while Dwight Howard can’t hit a free throw and Kobe Bryant puts up futile big numbers.
Yes, another home loss (The Lakers are 7-6 at home) in which Kobe Bryant scores an impressive 34 points. While his all-time numbers keep impressing, his current state is simply getting worst. The D’Antoni system isn’t working, but it’s no longer because the pieces still aren’t fitting or need more time to adjust. It looks more and more like as this losing streaks keep getting worst, certain players on this team are stopping to put in the kind of effort needed to pull this wagon out of the mud.
Mike D’Antoni didn’t have anything sophisticated or complicated to say about the situation. Umm, you know, we’re not very good right now. We’re not doing it. We’re not running back. We’re not doing the little things. We have too many guys that will take a possession off.
And that’s the worst thing that can happen to this team. All the brotherhood and cohesion we saw in the photos of the starting five has faded away. It looks like each man has gone to his own corner, dealing with the criticism and slump in their own way. Dwight Howard can’t take it that all that’s talked about when referring to him is his free throw shooting ability, making only 47.7% of his free throw attempts this season. Worst, he’s not keeping this defense together the way he was expected to. When people don’t run back to stop a fast break, there’s only so much he can do.
We’re giving up a lot of points in transition. The half-court defense is OK. We’re just giving up too many transition points. We just have to have better floor balance. While Bryant keeps talking about balance, there’s no real effort, including from him, to make any kind of stops on defense. On offense, Bryant is enjoying himself. Shooting at will, scoring at will, while the others try and find a way to get involved. Bryant finished with 34 points in the loss to the Jazz, now averaging an NBA-best 28.6 points this season. Too bad it’s not really helping his team, averaging 33.3 in losing games. The chicken and the egg: Are they losing because he’s blind to the existence of his teammates or is he shooting so much because they’re in a jam?
Nash isn’t the fix. In their last four losses (four in five games), the Lakers have given up 112.8 points per game. There’s talent to score, but there’s no real effort and will to do the hard work and play defense for 48 minutes. Steve Nash might help the turnovers issue on offense, but he isn’t going to plug holes defensively.
When you count all these problems, it seems that the attitude and this overall feeling in the ball club that things are going to be OK and turn a corner at some point are a bit contrasting to the reality everyone is seeing and experiencing. Mike D’Antoni breathed another weird truth to accept: I just don’t think we’ve had a gut-checking moment, yet. At some point we’re going to have to draw a line in the sand and that’s it. You got to fight. And we’re not doing it.
For now, it seems the Lakers don’t feel the season and this whole concept is falling apart. Just a little trouble on defense, just Kobe Bryant sticking to his guns until everyone catch up. With every loss, with every lame excuse and no real explanation for the failures, it looks like an organization disconnected from what’s really happening.