Readers Q&A: Analyzing the Lakers’ recent woes
Readers’ questions for our Lakers’ beat reporter Broderick Turner …
Question: Consistency is one thing — lack of desire-passion-commitment we’re probably talking about something else? What if Kobe [Bryant] were to sit out a game or two? See how the team (the bench in particular) responds. They seemed to play with more effort, more focus when Kobe was out hurt. They all knew Superman wasn’t going to be flying in to rescue them. It was up to “them.”
Answer: Kobe Bryant sit out a game?
Ain’t gonna happen.
But you do make a good point. The Lakers went 4-1 when Bryant was out those five games because of a sprained ankle, and they had a chance to win that last game against Boston here in February.
They played as a team. They shared the ball. They moved the ball. They played team defense. They didn’t have Bryant to lean on. Instead, they leaned on each other.
There have been too many games since Bryant returned when the Lakers have looked to him too frequently.
I think the Lakers still have desire, passion and commitment. It’s just not as high as it was last season when they were driven beyond anything else after losing to Boston in the 2008 NBA Finals. It’s hard to conjure up that same attitude as defending champion when every team you face wants to beat you.
For better or worse, the Lakers better get it back for the playoffs.
Q: PJ [Lakers Coach Phil Jackson] complains so much about the lack of production from his bench. His only bench most of the time is Jordan [Farmar] and Shannon [Brown] as Lamar [Odom] is now a starter. Pau [Gasol] is not a banger and he needs a big body to help him. Why not start [DJ] Mbenga and have Lamar come off the bench? Since Derek [Fisher], Jordan and Shannon are not doing the job, why not give Sasha [Vujacic] a chance to play? The man is not going to improve by sitting on the bench. I don’t think he is any worse than those three. At least he is the tallest and quick, and besides he irritates whomever he’s guarding. When [Vujacic] came back from his injury, PJ benched Jordan to give Sasha more playing time in order to ready him for the playoffs. What ever happened to that?
Seems like the Lakers might be confused with this musical bench. Tweaking the lineup might help the team get out of the rut they’re in. They can’t continue like this, otherwise they’re not going to get out of the first round [of the playoffs] …
A: Man, you want a lot of things to happen in a short period of time. Mbenga is what he is, a third-string center. He’s not in the physical shape to be a starter and he probably would foul out in the first half (OK, maybe not the first half, but soon thereafter). This is not the time to make drastic changes. As for playing Vujacic, he’s in the doghouse, where he belongs.
Q: Lakers are a bunch of spoiled little brats, and [Sasha] Vujacic is the leader in the crib. Do you even think about the age of these guys, and the [complaining] and moaning they do about not playing? Get a life. All of you!
A: Name-calling is not going to get you anywhere!
But, that’s some good stuff, “spoiled little brats” and in the “crib.”
It is time for Vujacic to grow up and stop acting like a baby. He knows what the Lakers’ coaches want from him, but he refuses to change his poor attitude. He’s old enough to know better.
If he’s playing someplace like Memphis or New Jersey next season, then maybe Vujacic will realize how good he had it here with the Lakers.
Q: Disregarding past accomplishments and expected playoff switch-flipping, how alarming were the margins of defeat on the road trip? I personally scoreboard-watched the majority of these games, so my opinion is limited, but looking back in July, will this road trip be remembered as the “hit rock bottom/future success” cliche or the foreshadowing of a playoff failure?
A: Those in Lakerland sure hope so. The Lakers lost the three road games by double digits. Their defense was a shambles. They lacked an offensive flow. They were outhustled and outplayed.
I don’t think the Lakers hit rock bottom on that trip, but they surely are looking up and not down.
What if there is no switch for the Lakers to turn on in the playoffs?
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