Dwight Howard or not, Lakers can’t win a game
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers are the worst team in the NBA. Well, in the preseason.
The team with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol finished its preseason slate without a victory, 0-8 despite leaving California once.
This is a team with championship aspirations. Nothing less will do, as USA TODAY Sports’ David Leon Moore wrote in his in-depth look at the remade Lakers. They added Howard, Nash, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks in attempt to curb a recent downswing.
Preseason doesn’t count. That’s an obvious truth. The standings reset. But the Lakers went 6-2 in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 preseasons, then went on to win championships. And only one team to finish under .500 in the preseason has won a championship in the past 12 seasons, the 2-3 San Antonio Spurs in 2007.
Before we go any further, let’s take a quick look at the each loss, from first to last, focusing on the play of the Lakers’ regular-season rotation:
Oct 7, in Fresno: Golden State Warriors 110, Lakers 83 — The starters played only about 19 minutes each and Howard was out (as he would be for the first half of the preseason). Robert Sacre filled in for Howard. The Lakers were plus 12 with Nash on the court. They used 19 players, typical for a preseason opener.
Oct. 10, in Ontario, Calif.: Portland Trail Blazers 93, Lakers 75 — The real rotation saw more action in this one, but Bryant joined Howard on the bench because of a sore right shoulder. No one but Nash (6-for-9) shot well, and each Laker was in the minus in his time on court.
Oct. 13, in Los Angeles: Utah Jazz 99, Lakers 86 — Bryant returned and the rotation (sans Howard) again played the bulk of the minutes, but the Lakers shot 35.1% from the floor. The starters were near-even in their time on the court. Second-year point guard Darius Morris struggled while his bench competition, Steve Blake and Chris Duhon, sat.
Oct. 16, in Anaheim: Jazz 114, Lakers 80 — Bryant came alive, scoring 31 points on 10-for-18 shooting. But it didn’t matter. Gasol joined … [For more on Dwight Howard or not, Lakers can't win a game, click here.]