Lakers’ Road Promises To Get Bumpier


VIDEO: Mavs storm past Lakers in big 123-104 win

DALLAS – It was only a week ago that a group of roaring Lakers reserves just trying to make it in this league cut down a lineup of Clippers All-Stars and I believed anything was possible.

It didn’t take long to return to my rightful senses. The Lakers, with or without Kobe Bryant, are in serious trouble. Of course, the longer Bryant attends games wearing a black suit as he did again in Monday’s 123-104 start-to-finish wipe out by the Dallas Mavericks, well, you thought sneaking into last season’s playoffs took a miracle?

(Cue Jim Mora:) Playoffs?! The Lakers better just hope to win another game, at least on the road, with the brand of matador defense they’ve waved since that mind-blowing opening win over their Staples Center co-tenant. In going 0-2 on the road, L.A. has allowed 125 points to Golden State and 123 to Dallas. They were outrebounded by a combined 98-74 and were down 30 in each game.

After Tuesday’s bloodletting that dropped the Lakers’ overall record to 2-3, coach Mike D’Antoni was asked if the rebounding and defensive deficiencies are an effort issue. His assessment: “It’s not that it’s a conscious, ‘I’m not going to play hard,’ it’s just sometimes we play little and slow, sometimes we’re big and slow and sometimes we’re slow. We’re going to have to turn it up a notch, defensively especially, and have a little bit more grit. I don’t know if they’ve ever been to the level they need to be, but we need to get them there.”

If not, Thursday’s roadie against lighthearted old pal Dwight Howard and his 4-1 Houston Rockets could end disastrously with a date in New Orleans fast approaching on Friday night.

“We’ve got to establish ourselves and understand that it’s going to take a higher effort than it is at home,” Pau Gasol said. “We just can’t make a habit out of this, out of getting our butts kicked on the road because otherwise teams, when we come to their house, they’re going to be like ‘Well, we got the Lakers, we’re going to kick their ass.'”

Beyond the struggling Steve Nash (28.1 percent from the floor) and Gasol, who continues to grapple with a respiratory issue, Howard might not even recognize this crew wearing the Lakers’ purple road uniforms. The Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki, who’s had tremendous battles with Kobe throughout the past 15 years, was barely needed against these stripped-down Lakers.

He scored a season-low 11 points and didn’t get his first bucket until the three-minute mark of the second quarter. It was an uncontested, running baseline slam that was already icing on the cake, putting Dallas up 59-39. The Lakers’ unfamiliar rotation included starter Shawne Williams being benched after five minutes and Nick Young, Jordan Farmar and Jodie Meeks all coming off the bench and scoring more than any of the Lakers’ starters, a unit led by Gasol’s 10 points.

“It’s a little strange, the lineup,” Nowitzki quipped.

Realistically, it could pass for a small-market, low-rent set-up focused on lottery ping-pong balls. In reality, this is arguably the most expensive band-aid of all-time, a $79.2 million patchwork that even Kobe, as he puffs his cheeks and helplessly stares into the abyss from behind the Lakers’ bench, knows is outclassed.

Before the game he visited with NBA TV: “The most difficult part is the process I’m going through right now which is the patience.” He did not offer a timetable for his return from the Achilles injury.

Nash, 39 and battling multiple physical ailments, is doing everything he can to just to make through each day.

“I’m just on that verge of trying to get over the hump physically,” Nash said. “And if I can do that I’ll really enjoy it.”

The Lakers sure could use a healthy dose of that positive Nash vibe because the season promises to be as much of a mental strain as anything else. For now, D’Antoni will continue to tinker with lineups in search of any combination that offers spats of consistency. He’s gone big, he’s gone small. In Dallas he found either way, “that we get beat by 20 no matter what. Any combo was not good.”

The facts so far: The Lakers rank 27th out of 30 in defensive rating (106.9 — points allowed per 100 possessions), 21st in offensive rating and are in the bottom 10 in rebound percentage. With a tough November schedule and Kobe stuck in a black suit, the all-too-real fear is this gets bad fast.

“We know that this is a team that’s going to continue to improve, hopefully, and find an identity,” Nash said. “It’s going to take a long time. It’s not something that just happens overnight.”

That also applies to whenever Kobe returns.

43 Comments

  1. u cant handle the lies! says:

    keep jordan hill, xavier henry, and gasol. send erryone else packing. Then go after LBJ, carmelo and kyrie. and draft marcus smart and mcadoo

  2. ROMANH says:

    SORRY TO SAY THIS BUT, ITS TIME FOR THE LAKERS TO REBUILD…..THEY HAD THEIR FUN AND CHAMPIONSHIPS BUT EVERYONE GET OLDER OR TRADED….TRADE EVERYONE TO SAVE MONEY N GET ALOT OF FIRST ROUND PICKS THATS THEIR ONLY HOPE AT THIS POINT

  3. Lakers Fan says:

    Time to blow up this FAILED experiment. Gasol and Kobe should sacrifice their hefty pay to attract a prospect superstar. Amnesty Nash. Keep the young blood in Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill as any of them can be a good complementary piece. And most of all FIRE D’ANTONI!!!!!!!!! Replacement? Try Jerry Sloan, who led his average but systematic Jazz to a 2 trip to finals against the Bulls.

  4. HangtimeBlogTroll2013 says:

    Kobe looks like Paul Mooney

  5. FrankL2010 says:

    … but i agree that Mike D should go

    • iii says:

      And what other coach would take on that lakers job with that horrible roster? If u think ur gonna have a better chance making the playoffs this year with someone else ur fooling ur self. D’antoni plays the way he has to play with that roster.

  6. FrankL2010 says:

    Guys, this is a long season with so many factors to consider going into the playoffs. First five (5) games is not and will never be a barometer on what a team should be after 20 games or even going into the playoffs.

  7. Skeletor says:

    ” .. and you thought sneaking into last year’s playoffs took a miracle?”

    Depends on what you mean by ‘miracle’ I suppose.

    Shooting 700 more free throws than their opposition was quite a miraculous feat. How fortunate for Time Warner that their multi billion dollar investment was able to sneak into the playoffs…

  8. Mattq says:

    It would be awesome if Lin gets traded here and Kobe retires. Lin flourishing in the style of coaching of D’anthoni.
    Lin-Farmar-a 40-50% shooter from 3-Jordan Hill-Pau Gasol. Hollywood Hype would be all over LA Lakers.

  9. squala96 says:

    There were just too many lost opportunities for the Lakers in the off-season. Rather than fighting for more decent players, they took in unproven guys. Yet they keep losing the useful ones. I mean, why amnesty Metta instead of Pau? Barnes and Jamison were also given away to the other LA team, plus Clark going to Cleveland. Why didn’t they try to get Josh Smith? They also did know for a fact that Dwight wouldn’t be staying with them, and they did not try to replace him with a half-decent big man. They should have lobbied for Asik at least. The forced-to-retire Iverson was also very much available. Forget the attitude cr@p; I’d seriously take him over Blake, Farmar (seriously, they got this guy back?) and even Nash.

  10. Woody says:

    people here forgetting the deeper problem that is called the CBA which is designed to stop big market teams like the lakers of gathering all the talent. The fault, if any, would be Dr Buss’s fault for agreeing on such an agreement. In a league that have a 70 mil cap space, what would the lakers could do while 50 mil is already committed to 2 players before the CBA been established. 5 games or 50 games, the story is clear and ownership must make a decision now. Either do what Boston is doing (tanking) and moving on or get serious by firing D’Antoni and bring PJ to patch things up. Adding PJ will also ensure stars will come to the Lakers next season. Surely that would bring much more revenue that will outweigh the losses coming from paying the salaries of the incompetent Brown and D’Antoni.

  11. Shaun says:

    5 games into a season???????? that is all.

  12. Richard says:

    The heat at the moment have a losing record, so I guess their out. should I name more? Stupid predictions after a few games.

  13. Baller says:

    Funny thing is, they still have a better record than last years start lol

  14. celentano says:

    This horible fallback for the barely mediocre team Lakers,thanks to Jim Buss with his marvelous strategy to build his Lakers to nothing. Jim B. destroyed his father legacy like a spoiled kid!
    a sincere Lakerfan!!!

  15. NBA Fan Forever says:

    it’s hard not to go back and think where this team would be had they picked Phil Jackson over D’Antoni.

    The starting lineup would likely feature a happy Dwight.

    • justsayin says:

      I don’t know… If Kobe were coachable Phil could’ve made him get along with Shaq – and that’s when they were *winning* rings.
      Still if he could’ve smoothed things over – with them on the floor and Phil on the bench, the Lakers would’ve become the most desirable free agent destination in the NBA.

      But they’ve traded in the great Dr – the Team Buss – for the short Buss.

    • Kome the Black Dumba says:

      As long as they have Kobe there’ll not be a happy D12. See Shaq.

  16. CJ says:

    I believe it is time to have Farmar in the starting lineup. Nash, for all his greatest, is a detriment to the team right now. He is the main defensive liability; let him come off the bench…. And I agree, time for D’Antoni to go……

  17. juggernaut584 says:

    You don’t win road games unless you play DEFENSE; especially when you don’t have a superstar to carry the load offensively and make big shots to take the home crowd out of the game. This current team, even if Kobe comes back today, would still have a very slim chance of cracking the BOTTOM 4 teams for a spot in the playoffs. They don’t have the coach, nor the personnel to play good enough defense to keep them from being a .500 or sub .500 squad. I hope that Mitch Kupchak has some tricks up his sleeve for a big trade and/or free agency this summer. Next year is the last year of D’antoni’s 3 year deal, and they are still paying Mike Brown as well. So, I don’t see them unloading D’antoni at least until this season is over. But if they have aspirations of trying to land Carmelo or at least make him consider coming to L.A. then D’antoni had better be gone before this summer and management is just going to have to bite the bullet on his salary if they want to turn this thing around before Father Time puts the finishing touches on the Black Mamba’s career.

  18. Barry says:

    My favourite player S, Nash made a huge mistake by going to the Kobe Lakers and I am sad to say that the end of the road is here

    • Laker72 says:

      I would say the Lakers made a huge mistake in signing an over-the-hill point guard who is slow, can’t guard anyone, and can’t break anyone down on the defense.

  19. LAKERSLAKERSLAKERS says:

    here we go with the end of the world scenarios. i think firing d’antoni is not the answer at this point. reality says this is a team with no superstars. after all we are in the super-team era. Gasol is as good as it gets, and when he’s injured or ill as he is now then it all collapses…Nash is not what he used to be to be called a superstar….he’s practically at the end similar to T-MAC last season….should not be playing more than 10 mins, let alone a starting point guard. And Kobe is injured….the rest of the team isn’t half as bad as it was last year, but i do believe they’re suffering from not having Kobe’d offensive….the 4th leading scorer of all time. Time is not what the Lakers have this season. They’re down but not out, heck we’re 5 games in to the season. But they need to have starters that can produce…..and rebound!

  20. Nick says:

    Aside from Gasol’s ailment and the ongoing recovery of Nash, it’s got to be a phsychological issue given their fine performance against the Clippers. In addition, I believe it’s decision time for D’Antoni. You can’t keep switching lineups and expect the players to be a well-oiled machine out there. Establish a lineup and stick with it for a while! Give them time to gel!

  21. juan sayles says:

    If you hire a coach who has been fired more than once, then the problems lies within the person who is doing the hiring. Everyone knows the definition of insanity

    • LAKERSLAKERSLAKERS says:

      coaches get fired all the time. see mike brown. heck even phil jackson got sacked before.

      • Laker72 says:

        I agree…coaches do get fired all the time…although mike brown is no standard for a title-winning coach. As for Phil, I think it is safe to say that whoever made a decision to fire him, needs to be fired at this point.

  22. Pakyaw says:

    I feel sorry for Steve Nash..I wish he went to okc at least he got a higher chance to win a title than the lakers..

    • squala96 says:

      It’s actually a sorry decision to add Nash to the Lakers lineup in the first place. On top of his poor defense, he is hardly effective and also injury-prone. If it were five or so years ago, then that would be a completely different scenario.

    • Laker72 says:

      Are you kidding. Steve Nash is part of the problem. OKC would not take him for the veteran’s minimum. He can’t guard any position on the floor, he is the slowest point guard….if not slowest player, in the league, he can no longer break down the defense….oh yeah, did I mention he can’t guard any position on the floor. Unless he picks up his game, he should have been the amnesty propostion instead of Metta……at least Metta could guard several positions on the floor. Mr. Nash needs to pick his check up with a mask on.

  23. underdog says:

    Still sticking to my prediction about the west since the free agency..

    01 Clippers
    02 Spurs
    03 Thunder
    04 Warriors
    05 Rockets
    06 Grizzlies
    07 Timberwolves
    08 Mavericks
    —————————————————
    09 Nuggets
    10 Trailblazers
    11 Lakers
    12 Pelicans
    13 Suns
    14 Kings
    15 Jazz

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      That’s a bold prediction.

    • yayo says:

      Why do yall keep putting the clippers over the spurs how many time hav the spurs over come them always saying the spurs are done the spurs r done wen their really done but till then stop excluding them out

    • Rhedz says:

      Western Conference Playoff Prediction

      01 Rockets
      02 Spurs
      03 Warriors
      04 Thunder
      05 Clippers
      06 Grizzlies
      07 Timberwolves
      08 Pelicans
      —————————————————
      09 Mavericks
      10 Trail Blazers
      11 Suns
      12 Nuggets
      13 Jazz
      14 Lakers
      15 Kings

      Eastern Conference Ranking Prediction

      01 Heat
      02 Pacers
      03 Bulls
      04 Knicks
      05 Nets
      06 Cavaliers
      07 Pistons
      08 Wizards
      —————————————————
      09 Hawks
      10 Celtics
      11 Raptors
      12 Bucks
      13 Bobcats
      14 Magic
      15 Sixers

      I still see that the heat will finish strong this season and rockets will do the same.

  24. koblack007 says:

    Mike D’Antoni has to go, The lakers are doom to failure as long as he is the coach. None of the current star player will join this team with this leadership in place…..

  25. koblack007 says:

    Mike D’Antoni not until he is gone can the laker move forward. The man is a losing proposition, I can not see any star player coming here to play…….

  26. Lakers’ road was bumpy BEFORE the season started.

    That suprise win over the Clips was just a lucky game.

    With or without Kobe, Laker are not going to be a serious contender this season.

    And let’s be honest here, last season was horrible….did you expect them to do better this season?

    • Nick says:

      I guess making the playoffs is a terrible thing?

      • Logic Matters says:

        It is if you’re betting all your cards on a headache of a center, an aging point guard and past prime superstar.

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        They barely squeaked into the playoffs. How is ‘barely’ making the playoffs an accomplishment? Kobe had to play so hard that his Achilles exploded just to get into the playoffs.