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Lakers continue to struggle as they lose to league-best Grizzlies

Nov 23, 2012, 11:37 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers players Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum sit on the bench shortly before their defeat by the Denver Nuggets in Denver Reuters

Any spike in energy the Lakers benefited from after the team fired Mike Brown and replaced him with Mike D’Antoni seems to have been short-lived, and after a 106-98 loss in Memphis on Friday, it may now be gone altogether.

No, the mere presence of D’Antoni patrolling the sidelines won’t be enough to fix the many problems the Lakers continue to demonstrate. There are issues on both sides of the ball that need to be ironed out on the fly, and in a hurry for a team that finds itself below .500 once again.

L.A. found itself down 16 points by the time the first quarter was through, and was playing catch-up the rest of the night. With Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard both being miserably ineffective for the second straight game, that didn’t leave the Lakers offense with a whole lot of options.

The two starting bigs combined for 13 points and eight rebounds, on just 5-of-15 shooting. Gasol played all 12 minutes of the first quarter where he missed five of his six shot attempts, several of which were open jumpers that were well within his range. He looked lethargic defensively, and couldn’t find a rhythm the entire night — which is probably why D’Antoni decided to bench him for the entire fourth quarter while the game was (barely) within reach.

When asked what he was thinking afterward regarding Gasol, D’Antoni was fairly straightforward with his response.

“I was thinking I’d like to win this game, that’s what I was thinking,” he said, via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

Howard wasn’t much better, finishing with just seven points, four rebounds, and five turnovers in almost 40 minutes of action. His hands weren’t the best on this night, seemingly getting stripped every time he touched the ball, and when he did go to the basket, he was unable to finish.

With Gasol and Howard unable to do much of anything offensively, and with the team playing from behind, the offense was scrapped most possessions for one-on-one attempts to score. Kobe Bryant hit some long threes late, and scored 14 of his 30 points in the final period. But the numbers came on an inefficient 7-of-23 shooting, and again, weren’t anywhere near within the flow of the offense.

The other area that continues to be a problem for the Lakers outside of their post play is the lack of production and defense they’re getting from the point guard position. Darius Morris and Chris Duhon knocked down a few open shots, but were unsuccessful in getting others involved by initiating the offense. And defensively, Mike Conley torched them both, and was able to create for himself and his teammates with ease.

If there is a bright side for the Lakers to look at, they can be happy that the second unit made big runs twice to get the game back to within reach, which is something that hasn’t happened really all season long. Antawn Jamison played a solid game, and finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes, while doing a decent job defensively, as well. And, it’s not like losing to the Grizzlies is anything to be ashamed of at this point, considering they hold the league’s best record at 9-2 and have quality wins over the Thunder, Knicks, and Heat already this season.

But that likely isn’t going to be enough for a Lakers team that was assembled to win a championship this year. L.A. will need to figure out how to get Gasol more touches in the post, and how to get out in transition to at least get some opportunities on the secondary break to avoid stagnating in its half court sets.

Most importantly, the ball needs to move and find the open man, while involving all five players on the offensive end of the floor; having whoever brings the ball up or whoever receives the first pass continually force up a shot is not the way you beat teams that actually understand how to apply defensive concepts.

All of that is easier said than done, of course, but that’s why D’Antoni is here. After going 1-2 in his first three games on the bench, there’s no question he has his work cut out for him.

  1. tfoz5150 - Nov 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    Phil Jackson, where are you?

  2. magicbucs - Nov 24, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Ha freaking ha!!! Does anybody else think its funny that the lakers are only 1 game better than the magic? The magic roster has 4 rookies and 6 2nd year players.

    DWIGHT’S GONE AFTER THIS SEASON

    Where are you sorry A$$ laker fans now?

    • hoodheisman - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      The Lakers are 16 championships better than the Magic…. If only my weed was half as strong as yours….

      • eventhorizon04 - Nov 24, 2012 at 8:38 AM

        …He said the Lakers are doing poorly this year (2012).

        You mentioned that the Lakers won a bunch of championships, mainly in the 1980’s and early 2000’s.

        What you said doesn’t disprove what he said – the Lakers are barely doing better than the rebuilding Orlando Magic this season.

    • saint1997 - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:53 AM

      haha they have a worse record than the Cats!

  3. dannymac17 - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    lakerluver: “Don’t worry, we will be able to climb back and get that #1 seed, i<3kobesballs"

  4. fanz928 - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    Wtf dwight’s getting like 4 touches a game

    • paulwoodsby - Nov 24, 2012 at 3:58 AM

      Dwight will have to bring the ball down himself or get an offensive rebound. Tim Duncan is far and away the best big man in the league so far. Dwight, Pau and Bynam are a joke.

      • scalfor3 - Nov 24, 2012 at 8:50 PM

        KG and Duncan are still schooling the young pups

  5. bifford - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Grizzlies destroy the Lakers and all they can gush about is LA and how great they are.

    • eventhorizon04 - Nov 24, 2012 at 8:33 AM

      “all they can gush about is LA and how great they are.”

      You’re right that this is written from the perspective of a LA Lakers fan (which Kurt is), and that only mentioning once that the Grizzlies are pretty good isn’t exactly balanced.

      However, this article definitely did NOT gush about how good the Lakers are. It mentioned the poor play of the Lakers bigs, Lakers point guards, and Kobe playing hero ball and doing it inefficiently.

      It was a Lakers-centric post, but the only Lakers player who was complimented was Antawn Jamison.

      • eventhorizon04 - Nov 24, 2012 at 8:35 AM

        typo:
        *of a LA Lakers fan (which Kurt is, but I don’t know if Brett is)

  6. airadespr - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    So happy for the Grizz!!!!! Way to go!!!!

  7. clevelandschronic2 - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Wtf dwight only getting 5 shots cause hes overrated and hes got mr ball hog i mean kobe on his team. Been Screaming the lakers aren’t the best team in LA and this is only further proof. Kobes old and selfish nash is too old to make a difference (playing with kobes Ego doesnt help either) howard only knows how to goaltend and dunk. And then you have pau who is softer than tissue paper. All being coached by D’Antoni who only knows offense. When phil was out there. Lmfao. LA land of the overrated and overhyped. Dwight wont stick around this sorry ass lakers team so it’ll only get worse with all those aging and overrated stars enjoy it laker fans you asked for and you losers got what u deserve!!!

    • tigershark49 - Nov 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      Have fun in Cleveland! LOL

      • jimeejohnson - Nov 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM

        When the inevitable huge earthquake, fire, and mudslide come to L.A., you’ll wish you were in Cleveland!

      • uscthom78 - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        When the huge earthqueake, fire and mudslide comes, John Ireland would definitely be willing to quit his job and walk to cleveland.

  8. herkulease - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:05 AM

    The Lakers problem is defense. You can somewhat get away with off nights on offense and improve your chances to sneak out a win by playing defense and making it hard for your opponent to score.

    In the last 5 games they’ve allowed the opponents to shoot significantly better than they do coming in 4 of those games.

    Rockets, Suns, and Grizzles shot 6% better than average. Kings shot a ridiculous 11% better. They only managed to win 2 of those games as they were also able to shoot above average.

    The spurs game a week or so ago was perfect example. Spurs struggled, shot significantly below average, but also forced the lakers to shoot below average. End result was that they got out with a 2 point win.

    • passerby23 - Nov 24, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      I’m no Laker fan, but I think we need to see what Steve Nash can do to facilitate an actual offense before writing them off. I agree, their main problem is defense and Steve Nash is not going to improve that area, but if their offense gets a bit better due to Nash and their defense gets even marginally better, then they will be a much better team.

      The problem I see is D’Antoni wants to play uptempo with a team full of aged veterans. Even Nash, the ideal catalyst for such a system, is 38 now. Kobe logs huge minutes, and Gasol and Howard seem to lumber up and down the floor. The other problem with playing uptempo is it allows teams to run on you as well when the Lakers’ defense is already shaky. For teams that don’t execute as well, i.e. Phoenix, Houston, Sacramento, Toronto, etc. getting in a track meet is not how the Lakers are going to win a championship.

      Nash is going to help them, especially when you see just how helter skelter Darius Morris is.

  9. dko83 - Nov 24, 2012 at 4:29 AM

    Can we not use stock photos of players that aren’t even on the team anymore? Not the most mortal of sins but come on PBT, sloppy!

  10. paulhargis53 - Nov 24, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    You won’t see the slurper of lakers for a few days now, that is, if he holds true to form. L.A. has lost 2 in a row.

    If you do see him, it will be how it will be all better when Nash gets back. When the big problem is defense, how exactly is he going to help there?
    How does Howard only get 4 boards in 40 minutes? Why is he playing 40 minutes coming off back surgery?

    Hood: Are you going to wave banners all year when they lose? They are 2, going on 3 years away from the last one. How they pertain to this season, well only you dolts that can’t handle losing know..

    By the way, Celtics beat the Thunder by about 8 last night.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      It was a great win for the Celtics and sends a message to the rest of the league: Celtics are going to compete for another title. Lakers: maybe not.

  11. dls612 - Nov 24, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    For the hundredth time d12 will not have his way like he did in the east! Seeing him go head to head with these teams that have big/efficient players and the western conference are loaded, d12 don’t look so dominant! If it wasn’t for Kobe they wouldn’t have the wins they have now. Is it the coach, not having Nash, d12 not getting the ball enough or is it that there’s no bench, come on Lakers fans what’s the excuse now cause I ran out of them!

  12. omniusprime - Nov 24, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Geez I was telling everyone that the Lakers weren’t going to win with Dumbtoni as their coach right after the little idiot buss boy made the dumbest decision of his life. Dumbtoni and his 7 second premature ejaculation offense need to be jettisoned immediately if the Lakers have a chance of getting Phil Jackson back to win some more rings. I don’t see Ancient Nash being able to do much to improve things, hiring some Phoenix has beens was a big mistake.

    Fire Dumbtoni – Hire Jackson NOW!!!

    • scalfor3 - Nov 24, 2012 at 8:55 PM

      Glad to see you gave the new coach a chance lol

  13. ebrownwareagle - Nov 24, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Since 1990:

    Bulls- 6Championships
    Lakers- 5 championships
    Spurs- 4 Championship
    Pistons/Hou/MIA- 2 Championships
    Dallas – 1 Boston 1

    So why is Americans so enumerate with Losers(see all other organization not listed) and share a STRONG HATE for winners. Ijs…
    And. @paulH! The Celtics got one Ring in 20 years!!! Stop it with the Kobe bashing. He a five time World Champ! More than anybody who played for the Celts in the Modern Era. To say he Sucks is Incredibly Ridiculous! It’s one thing not to like someone. But to try and diminish their accomplishments because of it; Is truly AMERICAN of YOU people!
    And To the @Clevland Dude….. You need to just cut it out. Just Stop while your Ahead. It’s NOTHING attractive about that city. ESPECIALLY IT’S SPORTS FRANCHISES!

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Cleveland: no earthquakes, shallow, phony people, tidal waves, and horrible air days.

      PS: Mitt Romney benefited from Americans’ enumeration with Losers!

  14. paulhargis53 - Nov 24, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Where in my post did I say Kobe sucked?
    That’s right, I didn’t.

    I said I’m tired of people waving banners when the team they root for hasnt won one in going on 3 years. It’s not relevant to the 2012-13 season.
    If you want to argue titles, 17>16. It doesn’t matter when any of them were won, they ate ALL in the PAST!

    The lakers are not a very good team right now, deal with it you psychopath fanatic.

  15. money2long - Nov 24, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    kobe walked off the court.
    as a fan of his for pretty much the majority of my life, im pretty bothered by that.

    you CAN’T give mike brown a death stare for taking u off the court in the final moments of a game, and turn around and excuse yourself from another game in pretty much the same situation. that’s hypocritical. and i’m not happy he did that.

  16. magicbucs - Nov 24, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    @ hoodheisman and all you laker fans that bring up the past….

    It’s the 2012/13 season your 16 championships have nothing to do with this season. You guys suck RIGHT NOW!
    I can understand when times are bad that you bring up the championships to make yourselves feel better.
    Why don’t you go smoke on Kobe’s (the rapist) pole!

  17. tfoz5150 - Nov 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Time to cut bait with Pau Gasol. He just doesn’t fit into D’Antoni’s system.

    • money2long - Nov 24, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      imagine if they traded gasol for a boatload of contributing bench players ?

      i still think everyone should practice patience with this new situation.

      • progress2011 - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        I bet LBJ on the phone wit Pat Riley ….RIGHT NOW !

        Dude probably would stop wearing a headband and show his receding hairline, if he could get Gasol.

        I GUARANTEE Gasol would AVERAGE 20-30 points per game, playing with an:

        1. UNSELFISH
        2. EDUCATED
        3. DISTRIBUTOR
        4. THREE TIME MVP

        Like LBJ.

        Gasol, Bosh, LBJ, D-Wade………………..it won’t even matter who the 5th starter is….that’s 90 points every night !!!

        It could be that way in L.A. but they have a selfish, uneducated ball hawk, Mr. Wanna-be-like Mike.

        I enjoy watching good “FUNDAMENTAL” basketball………TRADE PAU TO THE HEAT !!!

  18. musician0785 - Nov 24, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    ppl seem seem 2 forget that nash hasnt played at all, i dont care who is on ur team, ur not gonna win with Darius Morris starting…..secondly its funny to me how only the lakers are held to the championships every year standard….no team wins every year, yet in still haters seem to take delight in pointing out the fact that its been 2 years, how bout we hold the cavs and magic and nuggets and celtics and heat to that standard, see how many times they fall.short compared to the lakers

    • cramsinned - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      Their current roster is built to win NOW. Their core players are old and they can’t afford to wait for years to claim the title.

      So from what you’re saying, they sign Nash and traded Howard just for nothing?

      That’s why people bash them whenever they lose

      • cramsinned - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        *was built

    • uscthom78 - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      They can’t beat dallas team without Dirk. Nash was playing that game.

    • passerby23 - Nov 24, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      The Lakers publicly say that they are about winning championships every year. It’s not “haters” holding them to an arbitrary standard, it’s how the Lakers are built and what they admit to being.

  19. jeff6381 - Nov 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    The Lakers are old thats the problem they blamed Mike Brown and soon it will be Gasol’s fault but this team is old and slow the NBA is about youth and being athletic Lakers management should have figured that out when they has Shaq, Malone, Peyton, and Kobe.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Grammar and Punctuation police are looking for you.

  20. elComandanteenJefe - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    What is Bynum doing in the picture?

  21. paulhargis53 - Nov 24, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    musician: None of those other fanbases placed their team in the finals before a game was even played, like the lakers fans did. Well, the heat fans did, but they ate reigning champs so its their right.

    That’s why we “hate”(ugh) the lakers fanbase.

  22. musician0785 - Nov 24, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    @paul so okc fans didn’t put their team in the finals?

  23. musician0785 - Nov 24, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    @paul and don’t act like when the Celtics got Allen and KG Boston fans didn’t do the same thing……problem is nobody else garners talent as consistently as the Lakers do to give their fans a reason to b so brash….and truth b told half the time they’re right to be

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