Once Tops In Close Ones, Lakers Sink Down To NBA’s Worst


One of the more cautionary stats for good teams, pretty much across all sports, is an impressive record in close games. While that suggests lots of potential good things – the ability to close out victories, an overall “clutchness” of key performers, savvy late-game strategizing – it also can indicate a foundation of sand.

As in, it’s a lot more likely to have close games flip the other way, at the slightest provocation, if all those variables don’t line up just so.

The good news, conversely, would seem to be a likelihood that a poor record in close games could go the other way on a moment’s notice too. A few more free throws here, a little more calm there and, voila!, all is well again.

The Lakers and their fans still might have reasons for hope, if they can get past the Hack-a-Dwight (Howard) failures. Yes, they’re down right now. But they’re down by slim margins in situations in which they historically used to be up. L.A.’s record in games decided by three points or fewer is an NBA-worst 0-3. Its mark in games with margins up to 10: 1-11. That, too, puts them at the league bottom.

Small margins, yes, but no small thing. According to ESPN Stats, the Lakers had the NBA’s best record from 2007-08 through last season in games of 10 or less: 149-74, a winning percentage of .668. Their mark in those decided by three points or fewer was a solid 37-28, .569. Twice they led the league in winning nail-biters, with 11 in 2009-10 and 10 last season.

At 9-11, you’d expect the Lakers to have some other ugly numbers and they do. They’re 4-7 against foes that are .500 or better. They are the worst in turnovers (16.5 per game). They are bottom 10 in assists (20.8 per game) and 20th in defensive field-goal percentage (43.8). But not closing out close games, whether it’s due to bricked free throws late or Steve Nash‘s unavailability to impose order in crucial possessions down the stretch.

Here at HTB we expect this to change. Then again, we didn’t expect six weeks into the season that Bernie Bickerstaff (4-1) would be the most successful of the Lakers’ three head coaches.


  1. rick says:

    After decades of Laker domination, I’m glad they’re hitting stormy waters while inversely my hometown Dubs are streaking and look playoff-bound. I’m realistic in knowing it’s relatively early in the season and am sure LA will eventually right the ship (too stacked with talent not to), while GS still has to shake off demons of missed-playoffs past, but with fierce OKC, proven SAS, hungry MEM and LAC, it’s great to finally have more parity out West for a change.

  2. dattebayo says:

    In the offseason they claimed to become champions, they said it’s all about June and they would break the Bulls record. At the beginning of the season they said the here and now doesn’t matter and the team will improve. Then they fired the coach and ran him out of town and even spit in the one coach that got it done in past years and took ’em to the promised land. Now they are at 9-12, they play horrible on D which is the only consistent factor in every game. If the Lakers don’t shoot the lights out or Kobe has a MVP type game, they don’t win. And all you hear now is, look out when we get healthy, everything will get better once Steve Nash comes back.

    I know Howard, Nash and Kobe can right every wrong for themselves, but there has never been a contender or title winner with such a weak and inconsistent bench with stars as old as the Lakers. I think they will get better and I hope they will become watchable with Steve Nash, but they are not a contender to me.

    • Eaglos says:

      On the contrary, when Kobe has a “big night” Lakers loose.

      Kobe is fixated on the 30.000 points club mini-game, their
      bench is poor, their best center is injured, their “star” center
      cannot shoot free throws, Nash is out, D’ Antoni has no idea
      what he is doing…

      Better luck next year.

      • NBAfan says:

        LA loses not because kobe has a big night….Kobe has a big night because the Lakers are losing the game….man just wants to win

  3. cbct0915 says:

    everyone needs to chill out when all the lakers players are back from injury they are gonna be a way better team. it is going to take a tremendous amount of pressure off the bench which is extremely undermanned but i think they have such a good starting lineup that they will be ready to make a deep playoff run

  4. coopaloop2 says:

    I am real disappointed in the Laker organization. More so in Management and the Head Coach. Jim Buss and Mitch need to step down, and Jeanie and Phil need to step up. Kobe is playing his best game since he entered the league, we are clost to all star break and Lakers are nowhere in Championship form. Like pac-man they gettin knocked out all of a sudden. Sad to say, Pau needs to go to. I think he wants to get traded anyway, he just quit on the team under pressure. Steve is getting his zen on, so we need another capable point guard, and power forward. Jim Buss says he believes in Magic as always, bet you Magic is saying “I told you so now!”

    Sad in Laker Land:-(

  5. Jereac54 says:

    Basketball is a team sport. When one loses,everybody loses. My advice to the Lakers is:everybody put on their big boy pants, pick your shoulders up, and play to win.

  6. krespino says:

    It’s just stupid to rely on a player almost 39 years old for the starting point guard job.
    Old means injury prone, more prone than young players, because of the aged body.
    It is doubtful that the higher level of intensity and effort Nash will have to produce with the Lakers compared with the Suns will not cause repeating injuries.

  7. BOOLIE says:

    it’s always like that in the beginning of the season im HUGE SHAQ fan but seeing him going of on howard everytime they lost that’s just unbelievable first of all dwight howard came from a spinal injury no matter how great you are if your back is not in sync with you psychologicaly it can affect your game. Watching shaq make comments that jordan of the clippers is the best big man in the west common does he have the numbers to prove that the reason why they are all scrutinizing the lakers and howars is the play in LOS ANGELES “THE LAKERS” not just any team but lakers shaw has bad blood in L.A cause they let him go when his game was falling part and then the superman nickname was for shaq in his mind but lets face it dwights game is more explosive and now shaq is mad cause he should be superman. Lets just wait till it’s 82 games done nash is back and gasol and judge them

  8. Kamote says:

    Don’t worry Laker fans, as long as Stern is the commissioner…

  9. penelope cruzeiro says:

    change Gasol for Aldridge or Josh Smith

  10. kevin Michael Menkhorst says:

    Why is everyone hating on Gasol! He is the most skilled big man in the NBA! He ha two rings and should be on the floor the last 5 min instead of Howard! I want Gasol to stay but the problem is they don’t play with energy and that the coaching choice is a terrible!!! Bernie I support you and Brian Shaw! If the Lakers don’t change it around quickly which they can do! Then there isn’t a point in watching them cause the games are UGLY very very UGLY!

  11. Howard = overrated. Where are you, Bynum?

  12. muho4x says:

    miami needed two years with super talent in their prime to get a championship. just be patient lakers is not gonna need 2 years just 3 4 months playing together. mark my words if they fix their defense they are the champs.

    • W/E says:

      yep its their defence,lakers can even win the championship if the defence improves but with Dumbtoni as coach the lakers are doomed.

  13. The Jacques says:

    Way too early to tell with the Lakers. It’s a long season and they’ll at least make the playoffs with only marginal improvement, so it depends on whether they get their act together by then and how they’re playing come spring. We’ll see.

  14. Lobsangrampa says:

    Unfortunately, the lakers are a SLOW first team and their bench is weak so it will be difficult for them to get to the top in today’s NBA, unless somehow, everything just clicks…..

  15. Heisenberg says:

    Judge all you want about the Lakers performance this 1st half of the season. The bottom line here is we never witnessed the lakers full roster healthy. The lakers Hollywood story still continues

    • dattebayo says:

      The Bulls (Rose, Hamilton, Hinrich), 76ers (Bynum), Wolves (Love, Rubio, Kirilenko, Roy, Barea, Pekovic), Pacers (Granger) and Warriors (Bogut, Rush) have all been hit harder with injuries and all these ball clubs have better records than the Lakers. Maybe you are just making excuses.

  16. True says:

    1 trade Howard

  17. Dr.McDunk says:

    trade howard the bum!

  18. la4life says:

    everyone watch there gonna be champs this year. watch

  19. melvin says:

    Why LA has to have 2 teams???…Why they dont mix Lakers w Clippers and make a MONSTER team??

  20. acebruck says:

    better now to lose as to lose at the playoffs.
    many teams will lose now so much energy that will be necessary for the playoffs.
    we must not forget the continuous load until the playoffs.
    the lakers would be well advised to develop an appropriate strategy and an elaborate strategy to avoid injuries.
    remember the bulls and derrick rose!they won so many games for what?
    it is good for the lakers to lose now games.because they learn how to deal with awkward disposition.

  21. Lakers4ever says:

    The best solution now is to fire coach Mke ‘Antoni and let Bernie Bickerstaff be the head coach, at least he lead the Lakers to 4-1 and lost to Spur by only 2points.. oh yeah what the Lakers need is to start winning games, if not i guess it’s time for them to go FISHING… LOL

  22. Lakers4ever says:

    We all know, you can’t win a championship just by playing good offensively or defensively. You need to play combinations of both in order to win games and playoffs and championship. I don’t understand how the Lakers are the worst defensive team in NBA, seen like it. When they have like a guy like Dwight Howard and Metta, Kobe.. etc.. Its’ very clear to me that there is no team chemistry on mainly DEFENSIVELY*. So first the Lakers need to work that, instead of blaming on Dwight horrible FT or Paul being Gasoft..

  23. the bomb says:

    dont worry everyone lakers will make the playoffs, and if they dont im sorry get over it they need draft picks anyways when kobe retires. besides if they play in the playoffs i doubt they will get past the 2nd round, spurs, memphis and okc would crush them. and their not even the best la team clippers are still more better rounded

  24. bajoy says:

    the team leader is a ballhogger. how will they win

    • NBAfan says:

      their team leader is a scorer who is leading the league and shooting at a career high FG% around 50% with the kind of shoots he takes…

      Kobe as a ballhog is expired haterade….come up with something new

  25. McBob says:

    the Lakers made a mistake by trading away Josh McRoberts!!!

  26. LakerTRds says:

    Why are you complaining that the trio of the Fakers did not work? and their coach? last season you were, GET DWIGHT! GET NASH! now they’re here and it not working now you are complaining Unlike OKC and MEMPHIS who were hit by the lose of harden and mayo still in the top of the standings! the Faker fans so irritating

  27. Cleepers says:

    Hey Aschburner…

    Why do these blogs pay so much attention to a sub .500 team when there are so many other, better stories out there?

    Knicks resurgence? Memphis leading the West? Warriors playing like a real NBA team?

    But no, it’s all about the LA Kobes… just like every year. You’re on the wrong side of history, dude.

  28. Player says:

    We must not forget that the team needs a man who can organize them on the floor. Nash has this ability no doubt, plus the
    experience to reunite them. Morris is a very skillfull player but has no experience yet.So we must wait to see what can be happened after that.I think it’s too early after these injuries to have a complete view of the team. I’m optimistic for the Lakers future.

    • Dirty-D says:

      Morris is a tool to create high blood pressure. He’s a secret Celtic fan. Pushing us away from a win with every pointless dribble he takes that only consistently leads to turnovers.

      • Player says:

        It’s true. Too many turnovers. Also problems on D. You cannot win a game if you can’t play defense. You will score 100 but you will receive 101.you lose. I insist on Nash’s return.

  29. Engr. Jonathan Aguilar says:

    Its better to trade howard again…..Lakers doesn’t need him

  30. Johnny says:

    Call me crazy…but consider bringing both Nash and Gasol off the bench. Ok…I am crazy but hear me out. I’m from Detroit and i’ve seen my Pistons do something similar with Rodney Stuckey. Not comparing the players AT ALL but it’s not about who starts…it’s about who finishes. The Lakers have 3 major problems and offense isn’t one ot them. It’s their defense…their free throws (which can be fixed)…but most importantly their bench depth. Hell look at the Clippers…Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill…all starter material coming off the bench. Even the Spurs and Thunder do it with Manu and Martin, respectively. If you build the confidence of a Antwan Jamison and a Jodie Meeks and get them acclamated early in the offense (like the Spurs have with Danny Green and others)…and then bring the bread and butter pick and roll or pop offense off the bench with Nash and Gasol…the Western Conference has a problem on their hands. Can you imagine how many looks a Devin Eubanks can get with Nash on the floor to create open looks for him…or a low posting Jordan Hill getting a sexy dish from Nash.? Scary, right.? Besides…as great as Nash is (or was)…why put a gaurd in his 17th year in the ringer night in and night out against Russell Westbrook…or CP3 or even Tony Parker who hasn’t lost a step.? Kobe and Dwight are going to do damage night in and night out…but if you put ALL of your eggs in the starting line-up…then who’s responsible to pick up the slack when they are resting.? Hmmm…well Nash and Gasol sound pretty damn good to me because their bench isn’t that good or consistent when they decide to be (just ask the Nuggets). But call me crazy.

  31. Edgars says:

    Lakers are in trouble defensively and Nash is not gona fix that. Neither is d’Antoni or Kobe. It will surprise me if they even get in playoffs this year

  32. OG.LAL says:

    What is wrong with Luke Walton oooop Steve Blake get rid of him,what a waist of money for Lakers organization.

  33. MoeM3Power says:

    Bring Phil Jackson back and Lakers need Kevin Love and Chris Paul!

  34. AMR says:

    as it seems to be MIKE D still in the process of experimenting all kind of combinations , you have to give him that time but also it seems that the players themselve playing one game on and 2 games resting so lakers record is like this= one win+ two loss+ one win again then resting again , wake up lakers , you can rest in the off season not in the real season , it is going to be a uniqe year for lakers FANS

  35. peusi says:

    Pau’s fault again?

  36. Paolo says:

    DEFENSE IS OFFENSE! C’mon Lakers! Kobe, this is you best chance to win another title.everybody knows your heroic abilities..
    LAKERS WAKE UP! Works more defensively! TRADING PAU GASOL AND RON ARTEST will be the answer in lakers defensively problems. Both guys are not getting younger and younger. Athleticism getting losen and so on..get back to phil jacksons system.

  37. DH needs to play for the Heat! Trade Bosh and DWade for DH.

  38. mike says:

    kobes the best player in nba hans down……

  39. QueensBridge says:

    Satisfaction Guarantee Night should be a rule, David Stern. Fix that first.

  40. Vin says:

    The Lakers offense averages 101.4 ppg this year. They need to lock it down on defense, quit turning the ball over (16.45 per game). The only thing bad with the Lakers offense isn’t quite the problem. Turnovers, Free-Throws and average defensive play are killing the Lakers this year. fix them

  41. Norbert says:

    Maybe the Lakers should start playing Hockey?

  42. Aeddi says:

    The Lakers should have never hired Mike D’Antoni. In that Situation they would have needed to get Phil back no matter at its costs.

  43. mike says:

    correct me if im wrong cause i have not followed them closely, i was under the impression Pau was being played away from the basket wen he much prefers his back to the basket ? wat is it with brown and d antoni that they wont play people to their strengths and if they cant why did they recruit certain people in the first place!!

  44. j says:

    ha, I love irony too. I agree with you. It is amazing how misused Gasol has being during the last and current seasons. Playing as a center he can easily make 20-10 per game. But we know they have to make room for that guy… Howard.

  45. jimbo says:

    The lakers have to run some pick and rolls with kobe and dwight and when nash gets back he can run the pick and roll with gasol.They got to crack down on defense and they’ll maybe make some noise in the playoffs but if they plan on being the pheonix suns of the nash and marion days goodnight to the lakers title chances. They haven’t found there identity offensively and the stat line that proves this is when kobe scores 30 points or more they’re 1-7.

    • Nba Fan says:

      but kobe is shooting great % is quite high also. I think what kobe doing is great. offensively the lakers are great. ofc FT is a big issue. if dwight can made more FT they be 3 or 4 place in the east right now. Dwight is the problem make more then 70% ft and be more aggressive. last and most important is the defense. they need to get stops!

  46. JimD54 says:

    I can’t believe the Lakers think Nash is going to stop the bleeding, not hving Nash is not their problem..

  47. Ha says:


  48. Canary Islander says:

    Pau is a easy shot. A Paunching buy , where aim all the critics . Dont Blame Pau . He is to good

  49. umer says:

    THEY DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT COACH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    What is up with LAL organization, they have a better chance of winning if Kobe coached the team.

  50. casual fan says:

    Lakers need someone like Jerry west to fix their problems from head to toe.

  51. DANITo says:

    i said if he s not injured . and nash wont change nothing he is old and gona get hurt all the time. lakers wont even make the playoffs

    • GRRR!!! Lakers what are you doing??? says:

      lakers will miss the playoffs? Really? Really? Are you that stupid??? I see the Lakers finishing 5th in the west, and having one hell of an interesting series against their hallway rivals, the Clippers in the first round… Think about what they have faced this season – a coach players and management did not respect, and a stupid system that did not suit the team. Injuries to Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Thats 3 of the best 4 players on the team, battling with injuries. Add that onto any other team and see what happens! This thing will take some time, make comments when they are all healthy…

      • Tommy says:

        Then slap on the injury to Steve Blake, their only other ‘reliable’ back up point guard, and the Lakers are doing fairly well in my opinion.

        They are having the same run as the Heat did after they created the Big 3 and the Knicks when Melo, Amare and Billups joined. Everyone pump the brakes and wait for things to pick up. They are at 9-11, it isn’t armaggedon, it’s just a bad start for a usually top tier side.

  52. j-dawg says:

    @Tyrone, uh huh because Bynum would be such a better option right now…

  53. truth says:


  54. DANITo says:

    i know bynum is injured but when he is healthy , he is way better fit for the lakers than howard. howard could be a better center overall, but to me i think bynum is better , specially in the lakers situation right now. bynum can shoot free thro, so the hack thing dont work. bynum can get u easily the same piont. and you can throw the ball to him, even in the 4th quarter, cuz he got better post moves than howard. chuck is right howard is not shaq

  55. Paul says:

    I swear to god, it feels like no one watches these games. The problem is not their offense and it never will be. Their opponents are scoring 100+ points on them. THEIR DEFENSE IS HORRIBLE! They almost beat OKC just by offense. On OKC’s part, just like Durant said, they didn’t close out well defensively. Same goes for Lakers. D’antoni needs to go, they need someone who will crack down on their defensive liabilities. They will find ways to score, they need help communicating defensively..

  56. krespino says:

    D.Howard does not deserve all that hype, “the best center in the NBA” etc.
    He harmed Orlando Magic in his last two years there.
    LA will be sorry for trading him, and he will probably not sign for LA at the end of the year and the horrible DH saga will go on and on and on.
    I just wish the NBA somehow got rid of this guy who is a cancer him for whatever team he plays for.

    • dedefr says:

      Are you insane? Look at the stats. Not a great FT shooter, but a VERY, Very good shot blocker and who’s gonna stop him down in the post?
      Bynum’s injured too much, Marc Gasol is solid, not great. Chandler is a good defender, but not great on the offensive end (mainly putbacks). So who else is there that would be better than D12??

      • Vladimir says:

        Chandler is not putting big numbers point wise because he is not the focal point of Knicks offence… Melo, Amar’e ( when he gets back ), Felton, J.R. Smith, Novak, evek Kidd are above him in NYKs scoring priority… Chandlers sets up pretty good screens for who ever is the ball handler, majority of his points are, as you have said, put backs, and he is a legit defensive beast. What can you ask more of a center to do in the era in which the high scoring centers are all but extinct? ( Shaq, Robinson, Olajuwon, Ewing of 90s era come to my mind )

      • basketball fan says:

        To dedefr………PERKINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he handles big bad Dwight no problem. Did you miss the thunder/laker game friday?

      • Super Lakers says:

        Jordan.. DeAndre Jordan. > D. Howard

    • GRRR!!! Lakers what are you doing??? says:

      and who did they trade away??? Oh thats right, Andrew Bynum… What are his stats this year???? 0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 blocks, but I bowled a 270…

  57. Frankl_1016 says:

    The Lakers should leave coaching to BERNIE. Coach Mike doesn’t seem to know how to use players based on their potential.

  58. Chevron says:

    Metta World Peace Said Lakers Record going to be 73-9. I guess the way Lakers are playing now the record might be like 9-73 ?

  59. TV63 says:

    Over exaggeration! They are not worst than Cavs, Wizards and so one in close games.

    • aaaaaa says:

      the Wizards beat the Heat, therefore making them the best tea…… haha i can’t even finish that sentence.

  60. Gavranko says:

    When will people get that Mike D’Antoni is the most overestimated coach of all time?

    • 16going417 says:

      I agree with you 100%.

      The problem overall is D’Antoni’s system. How is Howard supposed to get his shoots when this team’s offense is predicated on 3 point shooting? D’Antoni has Howard running screens at the top of the key. Even last night against the Jazz Howard was handling/dribbling the ball above the 3 point line near half court. That should NEVER happen.

      The Lakers score points, but their defense is weak to say the least. However, part their defensive problem comes from their offense. When you shoot 3’s there are going to be long rebounds. When that happens the other team is already at half court before the Lakers can react. So, by jacking up 3’s all the time the Lakers are unintentionally helping the other team score fast break points on them.

      Make Howard the number 1 option and the 3 point shot the last option. If the Lakers go back to playing low post ball and getting back on defense the majority of their problems will be fixed. Plain and simple.

      • MichaelS says:

        There is another big problem for lakers – Kobe. Phil was capable to restrain him to proceed with his game plans. Now, nobody can do it and Kobe is doing whatever he wants. As a result we see a bunch of athletic guys, but there is no team.

  61. RememberThisDay says:

    AGAIN lakers are not a good team ( check the standings ) so why are you talking so much about them?? .. GO T-WOLVES!! (better winning record than the lakers btw)

    • Carl says:

      Maybe because the article’s about them. Get lost.

    • Nba Fan says:

      Because they made a such a historical move over the summer. even better than the Heat big 3. So plz let stop hating and watch the hollywood. this is all just a business after all. LA makes way more money for the NBA then the T-wolves ever did. why would david stern tell everyone write about t-wolves when they are not gonna make as much money as the lakers are for the NBA.
      especially the lakers are the one paying the most Luxury tax in the NBA. NBA just want the money from them.

  62. Daniel says:

    It is Gasol’s fault…

  63. The LA Sparks.... says:

    They should move Bickerstaff back into head coach spot..Nash isn’t going to save D’Antoni’s job. Hell he may step down like he did in NY. Bickerstaff just shows you again that it doesn’t have to be a complicated offense to get points and that “W”.. So I guess you’ll have to wait and see when Nash gets back that it won’t work for LA. Can’t blame Gasol!!!

  64. tyrone says:

    They should have known the risk for trading for Dwight Howard. Nice Job Orlando in trading away a target for hack-a-shaq.

  65. celtics1 says:

    Am amazed by people comments on the lakers ,celtics, heat . I can bet anyone today that those three teams plus te purs would make th eeastern and western conference finals. All those praising the knicks, nets, clippers ,memphis would be in for a big surprise.

    • Amir says:

      I would make that bet with you in a split second. the heat definitely have a shot, but the lakers and celtics?! you gotta be kidding. youre living in the past man, a reality check will hit you soon. and to dismiss the grizzlies, clippers, and knicks shows you know nothing about basketball. all i gotta say in the end tho is…BALL DONT LIE!

      • Random fan ful of opinions says:

        I will make 1 arguement, the celtics are always written off and yet still make it there every year. they get to the playoffs by a hair and then take the heat to 7 games or make it to the finals. why continue writing them off?

    • Floridian says:

      I totally agree with you on Heat, Celtics but LA. LA got rid of all its athletic players and focused on size, and experience which made them one of the slowest teams in NBA. Athletic teams have advantage on big slow teams in today’s NBA. Look at Miami Heat’s centers 6′.9″ Joel 6’8″ UD. Two fastest team in NBA played the finals last year OKC, and Heat. OKC had to let Perkins to sit on the bench most part of the finals to keep the fast pace. I personally think LA made a big mistake on just focusing on size and experience.

      • OlderNWiser says:


  66. Banks says:

    A loss is a loss