The Lakers’ 102-96 victory over the Washington Wizards (3-17) can be described in a variety of ways depending on your perspective. For the unbiased observer in me, it was bad form for the Lakers, making a game against one of the worst teams in the league far closer than it should have been. To the Lakerholic in me, it was a great win considering the Lakers haven’t had one in a while.
Although the Lakers got off to a good start, the previous problems they kept facing during their losing-streak started to manifest : Turnovers and Defense. It appeared to be another nightmare in the making when Cartier Martin (who?) dismantled the Lakers’ defense in the 2nd Quarter, giving the Wizards a 9-point lead. Metta World Peace and Jodie Meeks supplied a much needed boost on offense giving the Lakers a 58-55 lead over the Wizards at halftime. Let me say that again, the Los Angeles Lakers were only up by 3 against a ridiculously undermanned Wizards team.
The Lakers would eventually win behind the offensive outburst of Meeks and some clutch free throws from Bryant. Throughout the game it was evident that the Lakers have yet to resolve the glaring problems on defense. Basketball is a game of runs, and if the Wall-less Wizards can have runs against the Lakers’ defense, how can they hope to win in a playoff series against the best offensive teams come playoff time? The Lakers have now fallen to 16th in defensive efficiency and with a game like that I wouldn’t be surprised if they were ranked lower.
A win is a win, but the Lakers won the game in an unconvincing fashion leaving most of us with bittersweet emotions going forward. How do the Lakers’ get back on track? No-one has the complete answer but it has to start with defense. The offense is there, it may not be consistent but when Nash and Gasol come back from injuries they will undoubtedly be a much better team offensively. Dwight Howard is still not 100% percent and the team is still building chemistry on both sides of the court. If anything, this gives us hope as the season unfolds.
I believe the Lakers WILL get better and figure it out. Steve Nash hasn’t played more than 1.5 games so far this season, Gasol will soon be back on the lineup and we haven’t even reached the All-Star break yet. Lakers fans have no reason to panic yet but should not relax either.
As the season progresses, one cannot help but think ahead. Will they beat the Spurs, Thunder or Grizzlies in a series? They have yet to give us a reason to believe so. At the end of the day though, no-one can argue that a complete and healthy Lakers have the tools to do reach the top. It’s a waiting game at this point and with this victory we can at least breathe a sigh of relief until the next game.