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Lakers Key to Success? Get Selfish
The horrid season of wither that the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in continues with roughly twenty games left until the playoffs. The main question this talented yet dysfunctional team faces is not which seed they will land in the post season, but if they will even make it.
Who would have predicted that a team featuring four likely future Hall of Famers in Bryant, Gasol, Howard and Nash would look like a shell-shocked collection of old warriors trying desperately to wrap their arms around victory with about the same success as trying to wrap your arms around a ghost.
Last summer, this new Laker team looked like a Hollywood hit. Think Harry Potter. Now with a few weeks left in the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers resemble a Tinseltown bomb. Think John Carter.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder gave LA a beat down that illustrated just how broken this team is. Sure, Kobe Bryant, despite owning a body that is tore up from the floor up, did his usual All-Star performance in putting up 30 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Steve Nash had his best game since donning the yellow and purple with 20 points, yet only dished out 4 assists. And Dwight Howard, the not so big man in the middle, looked dazed and confused as the Thunder kept him to just 6 points to go along with 16 rebound before he fouled out.
Watching the game, one aspect emerged as the main problem facing the Lakers: They have no flow. If this team were a jam band, drug induced hippies would sober up fast over the lack of cohesiveness this unit displays as there never seems to be a point where all five players on the floor gel together.
“You can always try to find positive things in anything, but for us right now, we got to get some wins,” Bryant said after the game.
So what can be done to salvage a sorry season such as this? With the Lakers needing a “no way in hell is that possible” run to go 16-5 and snatch the sixth seed in the Western Conference, there is only way for this multi–talented group to avoid missing the playoffs or getting embarrassed in the first round by the Spurs or Thunder:
Stop passing the ball.
Yes, it goes against everything any coach would ever tell his players. If Tom Thibodeau read this he would stroke out in utter anger and dismay. Earlier in the season even Bryant tried his hand at getting teammates involved by notching up his assists stats. But this year’s Los Angeles Lakers are not a team. Sure they wear the same uniform and travel together, but it’s more akin to some once great band that can no longer stand each other going through the rounds on a tour they can’t wait to end.
If Kobe gets the ball in his hands, he needs to act like he’s playing against nine opponents on the floor and do what he does naturally. When Nash has the ball, just shoot three’s and act like you’re alone on your court at home. Perhaps most importantly for the Lakers, let Howard get the ball and drive to the basket without thinking. Yes, thinking is a major stumbling block for Howard this season. The guy is a beast and yet he looks like he’s trying to figure out advanced statistics when he should be dunking on just about anyone in the league. This is not the same Howard who was three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
These Lakers can analyze all the tape they want, but nothing is going to make this group a working unit until they realize that the parts are greater than the sum.
“Tonight was a tough night for us, but we have to look at the big picture in what we’re trying to accomplish and we can’t let this game take our spirits,” Howard said after the loss to the Thunder. “We just got to play through it.”
The way things are going with this team as the season winds down, Howard may not have to worry about playing through it much longer.
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