“Underneath. Wide Open. Time out. Lakers can’t play defense. At all.”
So said Lakers’ play-by-play man Bill Macdonald, who was stating the obvious when the Bobcats hit yet another easy lay-up to make the score 69-52 early in the third quarter.
The Lakers defense has been so bad that tonight was the their 14th consecutive game of giving up at least 100 points. It was also the Lakers’ sixth loss in a row, and their 18th loss in their last 21 games.
It’s one thing to lose at home against the league-leading Indiana Pacers, as the Lakers did on Tuesday. But to lose at home to the Charlotte Bobcats, who were playing without Kemba Walker, with the Lakers playing on three days’ rest?
That shows a clear lack of effort, and a lack of heart.
I am a big supporter of Coach Mike D’Antoni, but it’s entirely possible that his team has tuned him out – if that has happened, then he will need to be replaced next season, fair or not. The team just doesn’t seem to have any will to win.
That lack of will was on clear display after the Lakers closed the gap to 50-45 late in the first half, but could never get that close again.
The Bobcats were led tonight by big Al Jefferson, who tied his career high with 40 points (on 18-32 shooting) to go along with 18 rebounds. Jefferson was the big reason the Bobcats outscored the Lakers 64-38 in the paint, out-rebounded them 49-41 for the game, and outshot them from the floor, 52% – 39%. Neither Pau Gasol nor Robert Sacre was any match for Jefferson tonight.
(As an aside, the Lakers’ TV broadcast crew noted that Jefferson was the 21st person to score a season-high against the Lakers this season. If Jefferson scores 41 points in his next game, would that mean that only 20 people have scored a season high against the Lakers? Is that how the figure is determined?)
Tonight’s game was not only a disheartening loss, but it was a rather boring one as well. I am hard-pressed to recall any great plays from either team. Ryan Kelly’s four-point play, which closed the gap to 12 points late in the third quarter, may actually have been the highlight of the night.
The Lakers were led tonight by Pau Gasol and Kendall Marshall. Gasol scored 24 points – his 10th consecutive game with at least 20 points – and pulled down nine rebounds. Marshall had a double-double, scoring 10 points and dishing out 12 assists, against only three turnovers.
Gasol’s 24 points actually propelled him past two players on the all-time career points list, and he now sits in 94th place with 16,284 points. If he continues to score 20 points a game, then he will need just two more games to pass both Stephon Marbury and Lakers’ great James Worthy.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Gasol said after tonight’s game he that would be having an MRI on his aggravated groin on Saturday, making his status unclear for the Lakers’ next game on Tuesday.
Could this lead to a rare Chris Kaman sighting?
There may be an even rarer sighting next week, though. Steve Nash, who practiced with the team this week, is expected to return to the line-up on Tuesday after having missed 41 games – the equivalent to half a season. If his back and hamstrings are right, then he’ll make a positive contribution.
But if they’re not right, then his comeback could be short-lived.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
Although Pau Gasol is clearly the Lakers’ player of the month, tonight’s player of the game goes to Kendall Marshall, if only because he did not give up a career night to Al Jefferson on the defensive end.
Marshall had 10 points (5-11 FG, 0-0 FT), 12 assists, six rebounds, a steal, and only three turnovers in 35 minutes of floor-time. Further, he was a +6 in those 35 minutes, meaning the Lakers were outscored by 16 points in the 13 minutes that he rested.
Tuesday, February 4 at 5:00 p.m. PST vs the Minnesota Timberwolves