Lakers hope offense improves when point guards return
It was “team awareness” day at the Lakers’ practice facility, with an NBA representative on hand to discuss issues such as drug use and money management.
Point guard production presumably wasn’t addressed, though the Lakers could use a few pointers in that department as well.
Steve Nash and Steve Blake won’t be bringing the ball up the court in the next few games, meaning the Lakers could endure more clunkers like their loss against Indiana on Tuesday unless they figure things out quickly.
Their offense was more in the 77-points-or-fewer category than seven-seconds-or-less during their 79-77 setback against the Pacers.
“Where we are, 77 points I hope is the low point and we start getting better from here,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni, whose mantra at previous stops had been to hoist shots early in the shot clock, said after practice Thursday.
Their point guards situation couldn’t be much worse.
Starter Darius Morris missed all six shots and had zero assists in 22 minutes against Indiana. Backup Chris Duhon was only slightly better, going 0 for 3 from the field and logging three assists in 24 minutes.
Even Kobe Bryant, who has capably shouldered much of the ballhandling duties in the absence of Nash and Blake, was not much of a facilitator, finishing with three assists.
The Lakers shot only 31.6% and were laughable on the break, finishing with six fastbreak points. They also had trouble holding on to the ball, Bryant committing 10 of his team’s 19 turnovers.
D’Antoni, who coached Nash from 2003-08 in Phoenix, is familiar with the ways a team can founder without the two-time most valuable player.
“Even in Phoenix, when he went out we had trouble hitting 100 points,” D’Antoni said. “I hope he has the same effect here. I don’t know that yet. But his effect is going to be big. If we have these problems when he’s out there, then we need to sit down and we need to examine some stuff. But I expect a lot of this stuff will go away.”
Nash’s return from a small fracture in his lower left leg that has sidelined him since Oct. 31 remains unclear. He took some shots Thursday, D’Antoni said, but is not expected back before next week at the earliest. Blake will miss at least two more weeks because of a strained abdominal muscle.
In the meantime, all the Lakers can do is wait … and work on their defense, which D’Antoni said will need to carry the team until their offense rounds into form. Then again, they held the Pacers below 80 points and still lost.
Scoring doesn’t figure to be quite the challenge it is for the Lakers once Nash returns.
“That’s where we’re going to keep our sights on, what’s going to happen once we’re all healthy, once everybody’s back and once we learn this offense,” center Dwight Howard said. “But right now it is going to be a little bumpy and we understand that.”
Happy for Fisher
Derek Fisher is an enemy again, only in a different uniform.
Fisher, the former longtime Laker who spent the end of last season with Oklahoma City, signed with Dallas to improve the Mavericks’ depth after starting point guard Darren Collison sustained a sprained right middle finger.
“He’s a good friend and I want him to play as long as he wants,” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. “I know he’s kept himself in shape. So he’s going to Dallas and going to try to help them out, and I’m happy for him.”
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