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Winless Lakers “Hitting the Panic Button”
Posted By Alex Kennedy On November 3, 2012 @ 5:00 am In All,NBA | No Comments
The Los Angeles Lakers lost their third straight game on Friday, falling to 0-3 on the season. The Lakers may have won the offseason by trading for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, but it’s been over five months since the team won a game. They were the only winless team in the preseason and they currently hold the league’s worst record.
When should the Lakers push the panic button?
“Now,” Kobe Bryant said after the 105-95 loss to the L.A. Clippers. “We’re hitting the panic button now. That’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re not supposed to just coast and assume that things are going to fix themselves. We got to push at it.”
With four future Hall of Famers donning purple and gold this season, it’s championship or bust in Los Angeles. Only one team in NBA history, the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls, has won a title after starting the season 0-3.
The new-look Lakers were expected to experience some early struggles, but nobody expected the team to drop winnable games to the injured Dallas Mavericks, young Portland Trail Blazers and rival Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers aren’t just losing, they’re losing in convincing fashion. They’ve trailed by double digits in all three games and their average margin of defeat is 9.3 points.
“It’s is particularly hard for me because I’m not the most patient individual in the world, but you have to be,” Bryant said. “You have to be. You have to stay persistent. You have to stay committed to what you’re doing and just keep on trucking.”
“We just got to continue to get better,” Howard said. “We just got to keep playing, we just can’t get frustrated. I think tonight a lot of us got frustrated the way that the game was going. We just got to keep our heads and come together. We just got to play, we got to play. We’re trying to learn an offensive so a lot of the time we tip-toe everything out there, but we just got to play.”
Lakers head coach Mike Brown, who may find himself on the hot seat if the struggles continue, admitted that the losing streak has affected his coaching decisions. Bryant, who hasn’t fully recovered from a strained right foot, played 43 minutes on Friday night because Brown wanted to snap the Lakers’ losing streak.
“I’m not trying to fool anybody here, we do need a win,” Brown said. “We hoped that we could have gotten one tonight. That’s part of the reason why Kobe played the minutes he played, which is too many. But while we’re trying to get this win, we still got to do things right. It’s going to be tough.
“It’s going to be tough to get a win if we’re averaging 23 turnovers a game,” Brown continued. “The first game we had 14, but the last two games we had 25 against Portland and 20 tonight. In two games, we had 45 turnovers for 55-60 points and then, on top of that, in the two games we had 19 offensive rebounds for 45 points so it’s going to be tough for us to win if we continue to get beat that badly in those areas – in the turnover game and the rebound game.”
Brown gave his team the day off on Saturday.
“It might help,” Pau Gasol said of the day off. “Bottom line is we have a game on Sunday and we have to be mentally ready and physically ready to do whatever it takes to win the game.”
“I think it’s the energy,” Metta World Peace said. “You can play as hard as you want, you don’t even have to be an athlete to know that when you get tired, you stop. Your body can only take so much. I think guys are trying. I think a day off will help. It’s our seventh or eighth straight day on our feet. I think it hurt us a little bit.”
Every Laker is hurting, some worse than others. Nash is sidelined with a bruised left leg, Howard hasn’t fully recovered from offseason back surgery and Bryant continues to experience soreness in his foot. After Friday’s game, Bryant said it felt his foot was “about to fall off.”
Bryant was the only player who should be pleased with his performance on Friday. He had 40 points on 14-23 shooting from the field, but he received little help from his supporting cast. Howard contributed 13 points on seven shots, but also had four turnovers and five fouls. Gasol had 10 points and 14 rebounds. Nobody else on the Lakers had more than eight points.
“We did some good things, but we still aren’t consistent enough,” Gasol said. “In our game, in our execution, defensively we just have stretches that are not good enough. In order to beat a good team, you have to be consistent and we haven’t reached that level yet.”
The Lakers will rest on Saturday and then try to snap their three-game losing on Sunday when they take on the winless Detroit Pistons. If they drop to 0-4, widespread panic will ensue.
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