March 8, 2010

Lakers Go 0-3 in East Road Trip

In the last three games, the Los Angeles Lakers looked more like poodles than dobermans in their Eastern road swing.

Here's a rundown of what transpired in games in Miami, Charlotte, and Orlando:
  • 111-114 OT loss to the Miami Heat - Poor third quarter set-up a comeback in the fourth to force overtime. The Lakers put up a good fight but fade away late in OT, with Kobe Bryant committing a charge against Jermaine O'Neal.
  • 83-98 loss against the Charlotte Bobcats - With the great Michael Jordan in attendance, the game showed additional proof that the Bobcats have the Lakers' number. The second of a back-to-back, the Lakers looked flat offensively. Starters Ron Artest and Derek Fisher combined for 5 points and 14% shooting.
  • 94-96 loss to the Orlando Magic -The Lakers turned up the grittiness a couple of notches higher, but the Magic out-muscled the Lakers in a rematch of the 2009 NBA Finals. Similar to the Heat game, the Lakers made a run in the fourth quarter and had good breaks with Orlando missing free throws in the final minutes, but the team lost with Kobe failing to convert a jumper at the buzzer.
The three game losing streak is the Lakers' longest since the acquisition of Paul Gasol in 2008. Incidentally, Gasol played poorly against the Heat and Bobcats, but he came out of his stupor in the Magic game.

The way I see it, the Lakers were failing on two key areas: offensive execution and the defense. The Lakers averaged 14 turnovers and only 15 assists in the losing streak. A team assist/turnover ratio of 1.07 is a good indicator that the team is not executing properly. (To illustrate, the pitiful New Jersey Nets have an average 1.22 assists/turnover ratio).

For defense, in the last three games, the Lakers got out-rebounded on the defensive end by their opponents by an average of 7 more  rebounds per game. Moreover, their opponents averaged 3 more blocks. Finally, the Lakers' allowed their opponent better offensive opportunities as their opponents always had a better shooting percentage than them. (In the three games, the Lakers opponents averaged 48% from the field versus the Lakers' 41%)

Clearly, the Lakers are not playing up to par. This doesn't bode well as we are in the final quarter of the season.

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