The Lakers Are In Survival Mode


VIDEO: David Lee has 19 points, Andrew Bogut 20 rebounds as Warriors rout Lakers

OAKLAND – The Lakers’ Saturday night in Oracle Arena:

About 24 hours after defending power forward Kevin Love in Los Angeles, Wesley Johnson opened on point guard Stephen Curry, a sign of Johnson’s versatility but more a flashing red light about the state of the roster around him. Kendall Marshall went from being traded by the Suns to being unwanted and cut by the Wizards to unclaimed as a free agent to the D-League to signing Friday… to being sent in during the second quarter against the Warriors, an emergency acquisition to back up the point guard that had been backing up the emergency point guard. Chris Kaman got 17 shots, second-most on the team, speaking of flashing red lights of concern.

This is how it’s going to be for the Lakers. Beat the Timberwolves one night, lose 102-83 to the Warriors, hope Pau Gasol is back Monday at Phoenix after missing Saturday with an upper-respiratory infection, hope Jordan Farmar rides in later in the week as a hero – a point guard, a real point guard! – and mostly scrap around until Kobe Bryant returns from a fractured knee for the real gauge of where the team stands.

They are grinders now, trying to be plucky, needing to be resilient, wanting to be the contradiction of the team of future Hall of Famers that needs to get by. Not necessarily in on-court style, where the offense is often free flow, but certainly in attitude. Most nights will be about getting by.

It went well the last time under similar circumstances, the 10-9 record with Bryant recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon and Steve Nash with six games of fingernails down a chalkboard while trying to play through nerve damage in his back. Now, the Lakers get to go through it all again, with no sign of a Nash return and Kobe Watch II scheduled to last approximately six weeks. By that time, .500 and the playoffs within telescope range would be a major accomplishment.

“We’ve got to battle, and I thought we did today,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We ran out of energy. We’ll go to Phoenix and we’re going to battle. We’re not going to be smooth. There’s no way. We’ve got 15 point guards out. But it’s good enough to win, and we’ll go to Phoenix and try to get one.”

Three true point guards – Nash, Farmar, Steve Blake – plus Bryant, the shooting guard pressed into emergency duty as No. 4, just in time to also go down. But same difference.

Xavier Henry, another swingman, got the latest battlefield promotion. Marshall is the only true distributor on the roster, if he counts after going from Phoenix lottery pick in 2012 to unsigned free agent in 2013 before the Lakers out-raced nobody to pull him from the Delaware 87ers on Friday. When he got an early chance Saturday, more a sign of desperation than a show of confidence from D’Antoni, Marshall committed two quick turnovers in his first NBA non-exhibition game since April 17, lasted all of 2 minutes 54 seconds before being yanked, and stayed on the bench until the rout was on in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors, after coach Mark Jackson said he could not remember a team ever being down to its fifth starting point guard in an entire season let alone one 27 games old, seized right on schedule, as every team will attempt to do in kind. He sent defenders to pressure Lakers ball handlers just to cross half court, resulting in 24 turnovers that led to 28 Golden State points and allowed the Warriors to win easily despite shooting 38.8 percent.

“That’s awfully tough,” Jackson, a former veteran point guard, said of the position woes in the other locker room. “Awfully tough. It’s tough to respond to it as a coach, as a team. The benefit that they have is they have guys that are comfortable handling the basketball even though they are not point guards. Henry handling the ball. Nick Young, we know he likes handling the basketball. It’s tough, but they don’t run a traditional offense where you need a point guard. They’re doing a good job. Give coach D’Antoni credit. He’s doing a good job of mixing it up and putting those guys in position to be successful.”

Los Angeles is 13-14 and heading to Phoenix for a Monday game against a team that, it’s a safe bet, will go with a similar strategy to try to constrict D’Antoni as he returns to the scene of his greatest coaching success. The Lakers hope to do better at enduring this time. It’s just that they are not going to be smooth. There’s no way.

65 Comments

  1. iamgeraldechin says:

    i personaly think that it’s not about the players. It’s about the system. Compare Kobe before when they won the championship agaisnt boston kobe was just young that time and that team was not that strong compared today so what i’m guessing here is they need coach more like coach spo or phil jackson. Just saying.

  2. sports fan says:

    I’m not a Lakers fan nor a Kobe fan but I have to say that the Lakers are definitely in survival mode & they need Kobe to come back healthy to have the slimmest of chances to make the playoffs. They may have been playing better without Kobe but once he gets back & learns to play with all the new players then ultimately they’ll be better with him. Especially in the playoffs, all teams need at least one superstar in the postseason.

  3. Big Al of Bondi says:

    Bad call: Taking Steve Nash in – He’s been bad news from Day 1, old, ineffective and oftentimes injured. He earns $10M for doing nothing. Brandon Jennings would have been a much better proposition.

    Bad call: Amnestying Metta World Peace but not replacing him with a proper starting SF – Wesley Johnson is simply not up to the task and Nick Young more of an SG size-wise. They should have taken in Michael Beasley.

    Bad call: Did not trade for Asik knowing Dwight wanted to go to Houston – took in a hobbling Chris Kaman instead and kept that joke Sacre.

    Bad call: Did not amnesty Pau and take in Josh Smith – self-explanatory.

  4. Boston fan says:

    Teams like Boston and Lakers need big names….I think there are good players around the league to get…Greg Monroe could be a dominant 5(replacing Gasol)…Let Hill stay.The lakers have to use a “isolation” system like Dallas do](using Kobe).Try to get Stoudemire,idk,,,good 4,can be a all star again.Try to get With that and role players and a good chemistry that team could be a contender…I think changing coach(LIONEL HOLLINS would be great)

    1.Steve Blake/Farmar
    2.Kobe Bryant/Nick Young/Xavier Henry
    3.Wesley Jhonson/(name idk)
    4.Amar’e Stoudemire/Hill
    5.Greg Monroe/Regie Evans?(low contract,good rebounder,good back up)..

  5. tenby says:

    The season is over for the Lakers. This is a huge blessing in disguise. They should use this season to harness the skills and experience of Young, Henry, Johnson, Sacre and Hill. With the Lakers out of the playoffs, they could get young players from next year’s deep draft. Offload Pau either this season or next year in order to clear cap space or get a younger big man. That would enable them to get another star like Carmelo who could be the face of the lakers in the coming years. Clean up the whole point guard rotation of Nash, Blake and Farmar and get new ones. Kobe should just rest this season and come out next season with a bang. D’Antoni should go together with Kupchak. and Jimmy Buss should relinquish the reign to his sister Jennie (and Phil).

    • Witness says:

      First, getting Carmelo isnt gona do anything. He’s not leading any team to a championship. Secondly KB in no way is coming back with a bang sorry bout that.

  6. Dapat si kobe dili mag pa injured ……

  7. Unkle Daddy says:

    Nobody on the Lakers is awaiting Kobe’s return except maybe the Buss family, stop writting this nonsense. They are a better team without him. Not a good team, but better.

  8. lala land says:

    lakers play better without kobe.

    and im a die hard kobe/laker fan.

  9. lol says:

    Still better than boston or the nets. lol at the nets

  10. kobeurdone says:

    kobe your finished!!!!!!!!!! Accept the reality that ur old enough…. no need to prove anything….

  11. Nerf-Basketball-GM says:

    Kobe breaking down like A-Rod

  12. jonski22 says:

    the Warriors game is bound to loose…it’s the second game of back to back…and without Gasol, the focal point of offense?…

    Lakers without Pau, Kobe and Nash will lose identity…they should probably win if S. Blake is commanding…but that said a lot of thing about your team when your “best” player is S.Blake..

    Kaman is hungry for offense since he is sitting out a lot….

    but i believe that a healthy Pau, probably a SBlake or Farmar on PG…with Hill, Henry, Meeks, Johnson, Young, Williams, and Sacre…can make it to play offs….Kaman can be traded for a Lebron or Carmelo…or Dion Waiters or Thadd Young…

    • CALILIFESTYLE says:

      Starting lineup- Blake, Bryant, Johnson, Hill, Gasol
      Bench-Farmar, Meeks, Young, Henry, Kaman
      Coach-Phil Jackson or ANYONE other than D’Antoni & this is a playoff team!
      Most are playing for contacts so idk where Mike is getting this “effort” sh¡t from. Maybe on D, but that’s cause he doesn’t coach it cause defence is not in his vocabulary.

    • Unkle Daddy says:

      Kaman for Lebron… This is a child writting this, right.

  13. J4CK Nicholson says:

    Time to tank Lakers. But on the upside, Young, Meeks, Hill, Johnson and Henry are starting to find their place on the team, and I hope they won’t get traded. Kupchak and the young Buss should realize that this is not NBA 2K14, where you load the team with superstars and voila instant championship. It’s a delicate balance of the right combination of the line up, coaching, and of course luck.

  14. Ha? says:

    With or without Kobe they will struggle.

  15. Vlade Divac says:

    Still better than NY Knicks

  16. #30 says:

    NO offense and defense? but still they are trying hard.. Lakers should get key players in free agency/trade next year

  17. cry says:

    i was used to be a nick young fan ,but now that he is on the lakers uniform his ego elevated while having nothing proven yet!

  18. SK says:

    Kobe Bryant should step aside for the new squat to improve. He can concentrate in sideline guiding and promoting his T-shirt.

  19. factfinder says:

    Struggling to survive? The Lakers were doing fine without Kobe! They were expected to fail without him and they proved their doubters wrong in that respect. They have been energetic, enthusiastic and most of all entertaining in Kobe’s absence. This team has done the opposite to last seasons team featuring the so-called ‘big three’ of Kobe, Dwight and Nash, and outperformed expectations.Again I say: Struggling to survive? Really? Total propaganda!

  20. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    The Lakers need to re-build and Kobe is in the way of them being able to do that

  21. laker fan says:

    we should just go for a lotto pick now

  22. phil atti says:

    D’Antoni need to go ASP

  23. Jesse Garcia says:

    I think the just need Phil Jackson back they are not losing because of Kobe its because they are not used to be playing with him

    • Pakyaw says:

      Not used to be playing with him?..sounds like an excuse..u mean this young guns need to adjust to a 35 yr injured superstar?.. Kobe need to adjust for his teammate.., give those mins to the young leg,and reduce fg attempt..

  24. kg5 says:

    im sorry to say this but kobe actually ruined the team chemistry

  25. Chad says:

    Don’t understand why the media still talks about the lakers as if Kobe is the only player that can do anything on that team.

    ‘They are now in Survival mode’ until kobe is back? Umm yeah right they were winning and playing better ball without Kobe.

    ‘Keeping head above waters until kobe is back’ lol they sink more when hes playing.

    Kobe is great (or once was) but hes the type of player they never had and will make his teammates better.

    In the earlier years sure his individual performance / better health could make up for this non-team play deficiency but must be dreaming to think he coming back now with ankle and knee surgeries at 35years old could do any good to this team with the style of basketball hes played for the last 17 years.

    If you all think hes coming back to change his game you’re dreaming. Kobe is Kobe it’s his instinct and in the blood that he will only do what he does.

    He already has 5 rings whats another 1 mean to him.

    Hes only coming back to get that all time scoring leader. 20ppg for another 4 seasons or so and he’ll be above Kareem.

    • irfan says:

      I totally agry with you man, Lakers were balling before Kobe returned, they played DA system and it was fun to watch. They have better chance to win without to win and go to playoffs without Kobe as crazy as it sounds, but they really need Blake and Farmar at point. When Kobe is out ball is too much in his hands instead of point, as could se first game when Blake was healthy. Its just hard for me to see Kobe changing hist stayle of play to adapt to this system, just saying either fire the coach or someone should be straightfoward to Kobe and tell him to play like Meeks, but I guess he doesnt even have his legs as he use to.

  26. David says:

    They’re better without Kobe. Shouldn’t have resigned him, he’s no longer a positive impact on the floor.

  27. rcast says:

    GO CLIPPERS

  28. Game Time says:

    Laker fans shouldn’t even be upset. They still have a high energy team that gives them highlights and a good show. Yeah it’s not the Showtime Lakers, but they also aren’t as bad as some of the east teams. I actually like watching them to see Henry and Wesley play. It’s not all about winning when you’re a real fan. You just want to be able to talk about your team, even if it’s just one good game here and there. Just be happy your team has won sixteen championships over the years and stop mongering for glory.

  29. DJ says:

    Survival Mode???
    More like Death Spiral

  30. John B. says:

    The Lakers are done. Jim Buss has effectively destroyed his father’s legacy and the franchise. It will be years before they are back in contention. And a lot of the fault lies with Mike D’Antoni.
    I had Laker season tickets for a decade during the glory years (1985-1995) and I have been a fanatical lifelong fan
    But the truth is the truth. Bad management decisions, combined with bad coaching, combined with injuries on a biblical scale, just cannot be overcome.
    Turn off the lights and go home for this yeat — lottery pick here we come!

  31. McG says:

    One thing Lakers fans know, in the history of the NBA the Lakers consistently have the shortest “down time’” of any other team. Where most organizations spend decades waiting for a championship level the Lakers typically have a handful of years between great teams.

    So as painful as things are right now we know that the purple and gold will be back on top within few years.

  32. dustydreamnz says:

    If you look at recent posts in this blog around half of them are about the Lakers. There must be something more interesting to talk about.

    • lol!!!!!!!! says:

      Well you do keep reading and commenting on all the lakers articles soo id say its working for the writters as they get the attention of everybody

  33. Alex says:

    here’s a candidate for the PG position and he’s from LA http://wp.me/p49gAF-8f

  34. TS says:

    It may have diamond encrusted armor, and the exhaust may smell of Versace perfume. But these things are only superficial, as a tank is still just a tank.

  35. Paul Gasoline says:

    The Los Angeles fakers is done. It has been flush away. The way they play is very disappointment. I rather watch WNBA than watching the fakers. Hope they recovery in 3030.

    • ISpeakEngland says:

      Yeh, when you learn how to create a sentence that makes sense, then you can hang it on the “Lakers.” Until then, good day, sir!

    • al haldie says:

      I do believe you would be better off with the wnba — u might learn some thing when the game slow down where u understand it….

  36. Mike Brown says:

    Fire Dumbtoni!

  37. katoka says:

    They’re good with out Kobe.

  38. Fred says:

    Without going off the deep end here, Farmar and Blake are coming back relatively soon. So, that will be a definite improvement. One thing the team needs to avoid is individuals trying to do everything–hero ball won’t work. As Jackson said, D’Antoni’s doing a good job–and when they play as a team, they can be pretty surprising. And, re Marshall, I’m sure he’s aware of his position and the importance to his career this opportunity represents. He could’ve been just a little nervous. And, he comes in against the NBA’s best guards–give the dude a break! When you root for a team, Laker fans, you root for them during the good times and bad times. Right now, things don’t look too good, but the future looks pretty bright. Mitch and the crew will find a way to get better, one way or the other.

    Merry Christmas, y’all!

  39. Roy says:

    I know they have to please Kobe but what’s the the point of struggling to POSSIBLY make the playoffs in the unforgiving west just to get spanked in the first round? They need to be acquiring draft picks, developing young talent and trade Pau Gasol for anything of value.

  40. Nick says:

    Good piece.

  41. Phil says:

    Trying to survive till Bryant comes back? I know people will defend him and say he didnt get a chance to get back into the flow or the game, but the lakers looked horrible with him. When he’s gone, they share the ball and are a very fun team to watch. Once farmar and Blake are healthy again I believe the lakers could make a playoff push. But not with Bryant hogging the ball or Nash coming back and really screwing things up.

  42. Rory says:

    The best thing the Lakers can do is lose. make the lottery in the deep 2014 draft. Trade Pau for whatever they can get and look at the future. Whats the point in making the playoffs when most of the guys aren’t signed for next season? Plus with the east being bad they’ll end up with a 20/21st pick instead of a 11/12/13th pick if they don’t make the playoffs. forget the playoofs and TANK!!!!

    • AC3 says:

      Trade Pau for maybe a second rounder for either this year or next?? I can’t think of any player the Lakers could trade for that would help in the long term.

      • Brendan says:

        pau is at least worth a first round pick from a contenting team could be the difference in fact for a championship contender to make it to the end but not sure any1 has the cap to move pau just for picks he would have to go for someone else I say trade for asik but there are so many contract things that complicate who knows if that trade is possible. but don’t sell him that short definitely worth a first round pick if not several.

  43. Milen says:

    My poor Lakers…. I have loved you since the first time I saw Showtime in action and now my heart is bleeding as I watch so many Mr. Nobodies have the games of their lives against you….let’s hope you get a good healthy PG next year from the lottery or through free agency…. and a center who knows the meaning of the word “defence”….

  44. Tim Johnson says:

    Too bad the lakers are gonna lose to the suns again tomorrow

    • Pakyaw says:

      Survival mode?.. I know they’re the greatest organization in basketball.,, but why so much high expectation on this team..because it’s “lakers”?..they already out in playoffs picture just before the season begin…this media just won’t stop..keep pushin and pushin..

      • al haldie says:

        The LAKERS might be out –BUT they are only 1 1/2 games out of the 8 th spot—-if in case u dont know-im not saying their going anywhere if they do get on the playoffs -but give them credit , they are not quiters-and their more fun to watch this yr then last, they have 8 or 9 new guys on their team and no point guard {3 point guards out hurt} BUT they keep trying====IF U DONT LIKE THE LAKERS DONT WATCH only some one that is real stupid would do that….

      • Pakyaw says:

        Just wait until half of the season, and see if they’re still 1half game behind on 8th playoff spot…stop lying to yourself , they are not fun to watch this year .. Really?.. “Fun to watch”?..pfft!..

  45. No way says:

    With or without Kobe Lakers are done.

  46. KDfan says:

    No offense, but realistically, survival mode?