I don’t know if anyone predicted the Los Angeles Lakers to have a .500 record through the first four games of the season, but they could easily be 3-1 instead if they were able to maintain leads.
The Lakers jumped out to an early lead last Friday against the San Antonio Spurs and ended up losing by six. Last night against the Atlanta Hawks they once again had a double digit lead slip away, but they managed to hold on for a two-point victory. If they would have been able to play defense down the stretch and hold onto these big leads once they get them, they could easily have won three out of their first four games. The only game they truly deserved to lose was when the Golden State Warriors blew them out.
I know defense isn’t his specialty, but holding onto a lead is something Mike D’Antoni needs to specify during practice. The Lakers have a bunch of players who aren’t used to playing big minutes in clutch moments, but if they want to be a part of this rotation once Kobe Bryant returns then this is the time they need to show their true abilities.
Steve Nash not being able to play big minutes is likely a factor on blowing leads. Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar may be both outplaying Nash at this point, but down the stretch the ball shouldn’t be in anyone’s hands but Nash.
I am slowly turning into a believer that this team isn’t as bad as predicted to be, but until they start learning how to maintain big leads I will continue to temper my expectations. Once Kobe returns full time it will go a long way in making this team a lot better than they currently are. Until then, though, this current squad needs to learn how to hold leads so their record doesn’t plummet before Bryant even returns.
Michael Pidgeon is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for Rant Sports.com: “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter @1AndOnlyPidgeon, add him to your network on Google or e-mail him at email@example.com