HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — I was hoping a decent night’s sleep would give me a fresher perspective on what I saw from the Lakers last night.
I thought it might clear up the vision that seemed a bit blurry during and after the Lakers’ 109-92 drubbing at the hands of the Hawks before a record crowd of 20,190 at Philips Arena.
And this is no April Fools. I am witness, these Lakers have fallen and I’m wondering if they can get up in time to defend themselves and their title?
I saw nothing to inspire me last night.
“They just outplayed us,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, “regardless of inspiration.”
Most startling was that the Lakers actually tried to turn on the gas against a game Hawks team and couldn’t do it. Kobe Bryant was in full Black Mamba mode and it didn’t seem to matter.
“What we did just didn’t work,” said Lakers forward Ron Artest, who took a shot to the chest from Hawks sub Mo Evans (18 huge points) and didn’t respond in kind, a move symbolic of the Lakers’ entire evening . “We tried to win but we just couldn’t.”
It was an alarming performance for a team that doesn’t seem to have the same win-a-title-or-else edge to it that it did a year ago.
And it wasn’t like this was some starters-on-starters playoff fight.
Hawks coach Mike Woodson‘s playing rotation is usually tighter than a Lady Gaga original. But he went eight deep into his rotation and caught the Lakers with combinations they had no answer for.
Evans had one of his very best games of the season and Zaza Pachulia had his first double double (10 points, 10 rebounds) in a year, the last one coming in a win over these same Lakers late last season. Jamal Crawford was his usual explosive self, prompting Bryant, to anoint him “hands-down the Sixth-Man of the Year.”
The Hawks did their part last night, they showed up for a matchup of supposed contenders.
The Lakers, however, have us wondering … can they get up?