Los Angeles jumped out to a huge lead, but just like they have numerous times this season, they allowed their opponent to get right back into the game. This may be an understatement, but although defense has been the Lakers’ Achilles heel this season, it’s not the only issue they have to fix before being legit contenders.
Regardless of how good or bad your team is, learning how to play with a lead is one of the most important intangibles. To this point in the season, that is something the Lakers have been unable to do. One way to improve their defense is to have a better offensive game plan. I realize Mike D’Antoni loves the 3-point shot, but when it doesn’t work, why continue trying?
Steve Nash hasn’t been able to find his shot yet this season, Nick Young, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar are all streaky shooters. That doesn’t exactly add up to a team who should be shooting the 3-point shot 26 times a game. The Lakers are in the top 10 in 3-point percentage, but settling for the long ball is a huge reason teams are allowed to crawl back into games and beat the Lakers, regardless of how big of a lead the Lakers manage to get early in the game.
When a skilled big man like Pau Gasol starts adding the three to his regular arsenal, that’s the biggest sign that the long ball is getting out of hand in Los Angeles.
It doesn’t help any that the Lakers no longer have that go-to guy who can get them the victory when they really need it in close-game situations. When Kobe Bryant returns, that’s something he will help the team, but is that the only thing that will truly improve for the Lakers?
Kobe is a good defender, but guarding the opposing team’s best player while trying to score 30-40 points is bound to take its toll on Bryant. The Lakers’ defense will improve, but it will take a complete team effort to turn it around.
The offense will improve overall when Kobe returns to the court, but taking 26 threes a game will likely not sit well with Bryant. I understand that the triangle offense isn’t ran anymore, but to live or die by the three ball isn’t a great way to play offense either.
At 3-3, the Lakers have been holding their own in the absence of Kobe, but will need to improve on many issues if they wish to make the playoffs as a lower seed in the tough Western Conference. Bryant’s return will improve the Lakers’ talent, but it’ll take an entire team effort to improve Los Angeles’ ability.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org