The Los Angeles Lakers four-game road trip continues tonight as they head onto best team in the Eastern Conference fresh from a defeat against the third worst in the conference.
The game will see a strange matchup when All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony come up against each other in what has been a role reversal season. Kobe continues to put up big numbers whilst in a under achieving and dysfunctional team, while Carmelo is making strong claims to be this season’s NBA MVP for a team top of the conference and playing some of the best basketball.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni heads back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since resigning six months ago and won’t be as bothered about the jeers he will receive from the home fans ,than the boos he could receive when the Lakers get back to the Staples Center.
The Lakers are in dismay and D’Antoni recognises it, you would be blind not to. After the defeat against the Cleveland Cavaliers he said, “Right now, we’re all screwed up.”
It’s going to be a tough night for D’Antoni to head back to the garden and see his former assistant coach Mike Woodson in charge of a well-organized outfit instead of the team he leads to play the New York Knicks.
Whatever the reason is for the Lakers defensive problems, it is surely nothing that can’t be fixed but, the person in charge of fixing it is Mike D’Antoni.
There is a saying in basketball, and that is that “figures don’t lie”. However, surely when it comes to the Lakers the figures do. A team that has both Kobe and Dwight Howard just can’t be a 9-13 team.
The Lakers have outscored teams by 59 points in 22 games which if you compare to a team that has .500 record like the Dallas Mavericks and the Indiana Pacers despite being outscored by 12 points over the course of the year.
So far this season optimistic Lakers fans can describe the season as a ‘what if’ season. The Lakers have three two-point losses on their schedule, and two six-point losses. In all, they are 1-5 in games decided by two possessions.
The Lakeshow lost by two to the San Antonio Spurs when Danny Green made a 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds to go. They lost to the Pacers when George Hill made a high, floating layup with 0.1 seconds to play and they lost by two points to Houston Rockets when they missed three shots in the final eight seconds.
Getting the numbers on the board doesn’t seem to be an issue. It’s about intensity levels that need to be increased and stop giving up points down the stretch and working to the last second harder than opponents.