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Lakers’ backs against wall after Thunder hands L.A. sixth straight loss

Jan 12, 2013, 2:21 AM EDT

Kevin Durant, Antawn Jamison AP

“I told the team that the biggest thing is that our season starts Sunday,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after the latest in a parade of losses. “And we have got one run and have one shot at it and they need to get ready mentally and physically.”

That is the sound of a desperate coach. A coach who knows his team needs wins right now, needs to win two-thirds of its games from here on out to have a chance of even making the playoffs.

Lakers fans have been mentally in that desperate space for a while now, but it felt and sounded like the Lakers team is finally getting there after getting thumped 116-101 by a genuine contender in the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night. Kevin Durant had a season high 42 points. Russell Westbrook had 27 points and 10 assists. Oklahoma defended, ran the break, executed with crispness, and basically did whatever they wanted. Oklahoma City was up 16 at halftime and the game felt like glorified garbage time in the second half.

The Lakers have plenty of excuses — they were without Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol again in this game, plus now comes the news Jordan Hill will be out for the season with hip surgery. Westbrook’s eyes lit up when asked what it was like to turn the corner and not see the Lakers’ seven-footers protecting the rim, but he caught himself and just said it was “different.”

“It’s true, but people aren’t going to remember all the excuses of the season,” said Kobe Bryant, who finished with 28 points but on 8-of-23 shooting.

The Lakers have had injury excuses all season but the fact is with this loss they fall to 15-21. They will need to go better than 30-16 the rest of the way to make the playoffs (that record would get them to 45 wins, which is the lowest number the West’s eighth seed has had in five years). And remember they still have the Grammy road trip ahead of them.

But more than that, Friday night’s drubbing was evidence of just how far away from a contender the Lakers are right now. And how much better the Thunder are even than last season.

Early on, with fresh legs, the Lakers starters hung around in the game. Then the run everyone knew the Thunder would go on came with a Thabo Sefolosha three and a Durant runner in the lane. Suddenly it was a 9-point OKC lead.

But at the end of the first quarter the Lakers fought back to tie it up with a stretch of good defense — an Antawn Jamison steal under the basket, an Earl Clark block of Serge Ibaka, a Kobe steal. They tied the game at 25.

But the problem for the Lakers all season has been the defense has only been good in stretches. Then it goes away.

It went away in the second quarter — Oklahoma City put up 39 points quarter shooting 70 percent. They got shots in the lane, they were draining threes and most of their shots seem to be open ones created off the dribble or with the extra pass. The Thunder shot 59.1 percent for the first half, were up 16 at the break and the game was all over but the shouting.

Durant was 10-of-15 shooting for 25 points in the first half, and he was fired up. He drove around Earl Clark at one point and just threw down a dunk then displayed the kind of anger we don’t usually see from the NBA’s golden child.

“We moved the ball so well,” Durant said. “We were finding open shots, guys were getting into the lane.”

And when that didn’t work, Durant or Westbrook would just blow by their defender off the dribble. Westbrook in particular looked sharp with his game. And the Lakers lacked any real rim protection to slow them.

“Well they have a good team but like I say you can’t expect to be at your best when you don’t have your best players on the floor,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “There is just no way around that. When you get them back it takes time to gel and get rhythm and chemistry.”

The Lakers just don’t have that time anymore. And they know it.

Whether they can do anything about it remains to be seen.

  1. damp1015 - Jan 12, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    This is the time it starts, but also it is time for them to make a trade for either Howard or Gasol, cause they can’t trade D’Antoni. Laker fans will not accept this but you guys do not have shooters, you need a mobile shooting PF/SF similar to Josh Smith, Ryan Anderson, etc.

    D’Antoni’s system is not good without shooters and Kobe can’t do it all.

    • aarondommin - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Are we talking about the Josh Smith who is a career 28% three point shooter and 66% free throw shooter? And who is trading for an aging pau gasol sporting a career low year making 17 mil or Dwight Howard who has a torn labrum and can leave at the end of the year? Get it together. The lakers have to fight out of this with what they have.

  2. showtimefolks007 - Jan 12, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    As a life long lakers fan this is hard to watch, I thought we would be great but that’s why they say games are played on the court not on paper.

    I am over Phil Jackson but he would have made a huge difference, Jim buss is not an idiot. Hate the guy but he has done all he can to win we have a 100million dollar payroll.

    I don’t see Dwight leaving the lakers for one reason we can give him more years and more money and a player with bad back wants all he can get. Also la market is big enough for him to get big endorsements,

    I just have one issue and that is why are we not trading gasol? Yes he played big part in us winning in past but so did shaq and we traded him and won twice since than. Trade him to raptors for their PG forgot his name and andre their #1 pick few years back. Let’s get some fresh legs in there for dantoni system to work

    • azcards - Jan 12, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Because Pau has no trade value right now and there is no way anyone gives the Lakers a future first for and injured aging Pau with a huge contract. Not unless Stern gets involved.

      • bozosforall - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        You mean how he got involved in the negated Chris Paul trade?

    • mrcuret - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Howard’s gone as soon as the season ends dude (which I think already ended) bc as much as he wants a max deal, he also wants to have the chance to compete for a title, and that’s not happening in LA anytime soon… Well, at least not in Lakerland.

    • raidmagic - Jan 12, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      Why would the Raptors make that trade? I know you are a Laker fan but use some sense here. Pau isn’t the player he used to be and isn’t going to get traded unless some Gm somewhere wants to get fired for giving up young talent for a washed up Pau.

  3. bigwii - Jan 12, 2013 at 3:04 AM

    Glad to see all the hype fail they’re making my Celtics look like the young guns of the league it’s funny people say they should make trades but they have nothing to give up people think trading Gasol will jrung them a descent player in return anyone that thinks theyll be able to trade for Josh Smith or anyone descent is insane what team would want an aging overpaid PF that doesn’t play any D is worth that much really the only player that could bring them anyone is Howard and at this point they might as well trade him he’s leaving in the summer anyway I can’t wait to see this season blow up in their face no one deserves it more just because you have star power doesn’t mean you’ll win titles and expect everyone to he scared of you they’re not scaring anyone

    • 00maltliquor - Jan 12, 2013 at 4:21 AM

      Yeah buddy, your Celtics ain’t scaring anyone either, so….

      • andyhr17 - Jan 12, 2013 at 8:38 AM

        Seems to me like they’ve won 5 in a row, have moved into the #7 spot, are only 4 games out of first in the Atlantic and only 5 games behind the “mighty” Heat. They might not be scaring people the way you mean it but they are relevant again. Now if you REALLY want to talk about not scaring anyone, let’s talk about the Lakers….

      • spthegr8 - Jan 12, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        @andyhr17
        I will be the first too admit, if we somehow sneak into the playoff’s, we are probably 1 and DONE!!!! But as far as ya’ll being “relevant” again??????……????? Only in the mind’s of you C’s fan’s! I hate too be the bearer of bad new’s but……..The celtic’s are gonna be 1 and DONE too!!!! So…….CHILL!!!!!!

      • andyhr17 - Jan 12, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        Kinda like how they weren’t relevant last year and went to the conference finals?

        To, two, too. You’re doing it wrong.

  4. edge661 - Jan 12, 2013 at 3:21 AM

    Lakers suck.

  5. haterhurter937 - Jan 12, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    Kobe swallows

    • badintent - Jan 12, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      Does Vanessa ? does Jim Buss?

      • bozosforall - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:19 PM

        The male Puh C’s fans all take it up the bunghole.

  6. 00maltliquor - Jan 12, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    So ph53….

    We in a decent race for futility. You have a slight edge as far as W-L’s goes….still remember our bet?
    I am more then willing to uphold my end of the bargin (as much as I hate to change my screen name for 2 playoff series!). Does it still count if we both don’t make the playoffs? Get @ me via the “reply” button…

  7. bigwii - Jan 12, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    Never said they were they’re slacking too but at this point they are in a 5 game winning streak and playing really good ball while the Lakers are on a 6 game losing streak and at least the Cs have pieces to trade to get better if they need to

  8. jhuck92 - Jan 12, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    You can say what you want about the old/slow/injured Lakers. Kevin Durant has the ability to quiet the house like no other. The Staples Center was emptying out by the middle of the 3rd.

  9. pricejustin24 - Jan 12, 2013 at 5:12 AM

    Fat lady hasn’t sung yet… Everyone is a acting like the lakes are mathmatically eliminated from postseason play…wtf?!?! Last time I check we have a half of a season + to go. Hey, this warioland nightmare where the clipps own LA and the lakes can’t buy a win is about to end. I hope the lakers squeak into the playoffs with the 8th seed, just so it can be the lakeshow who ends the 1st seed clippers season. 1st seed clippers. F-n twilight zone. Lakers won’t miss playoffs and clippers will guarantee F it up. Book it. Everyone needs to relax

    • azcards - Jan 12, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      HAHAHAHAHAHA,

      The Phoenix Suns say thanks for the 1st round lottery pick!

    • mrcuret - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Stay away from drugs dude! The Lakers aren’t going to the playoffs, they’d have to go 30-16 the rest of the way so they can finish with at least 45 wins, and still, that doesn’t guarantee them the 8 th seed. Besides, if they make the playoffs (and that’s a huge IF) you actually think they’d beat the #1 seed? Come on dude be realistic, the Lakers are done.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 12, 2013 at 7:25 PM

      completely agree, Price. the lakers need to win two out of every three games basically for the rest of the season to make the playoffs, and these commenters act like that’s impossible. They will have dwight and pau back and won’t be playing the spurs and thunder every game. not time to panic yet.

  10. progress2011 - Jan 12, 2013 at 5:19 AM

    8 of 23…That’s ABSURD ! That’s friggin 35%

    Wanna be like Mike/ Harlem Globetrotter was chunking up Hot Gabbage….Then he’d scream after the brick would hit the back board, in an attempt to get a foul !!!

    Who keeps shooting, with such a percentage. At what point should a player say, my shot is off….maybe I should pass it !

    Better yet, what coach allows a dude to have such an off night and don’t bench them !

    As Phil Jackson said in his book – Wanna Be Like Mike is “UN – COACHABLE” and in an attempt for him to get his numbers….winning goes outta the window !

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 12, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      Kobe’s percentage is down but because the defense has to focus on him it opens it up the game for other guys. It’s not like it would be easier for the rest of the team if kobe was on the bench and not attacking.

      Also, Phil wrote the book years ago. Ask him how he feels about kobe today, I can’t think of many better coach player relationships in the NBA recently. What the book really shows is that kobe was a brat when he was younger, then he grew up and became a leader for his team. It allowed him to win 2 more championships with Phil. The other night when the reporter asked kobe what they need to fix the team, he replied, “Zen”.

  11. mungman69 - Jan 12, 2013 at 5:52 AM

    The season isn’t over for the Lakers BUT if everyone comes back healthy soon can they make up the lost ground?

    • chargerdillon - Jan 12, 2013 at 5:59 AM

      It was over the second they fired Mike Brown and didnt hire Phil Jackson. Not that Phil Jackson would’ve made this team win a championship, the Heat will crush EVERYBODY as long as they are healthy.

      With Phil, he would be able to use all the pieces and make them work because he is a good coach. He would have us in a playoff position at the very least with his triangle system making use of the bigs which niether Brown nor D’Antoni have any concept of.

      Diehard Lakers fan here telling you kitchen is closed, cancel christmas, the party is over. There is no massive turnaround to be had, I’ll still be watching every game, but there is zero expectation for anything other than regular season play.

    • davidly - Jan 12, 2013 at 7:55 AM

      @pricejustin24 and mungman69:
      It’s not impossible, but highly–as in extremely–unlikely. It’s just like Kurt keeps repeating: they’re gonna hafta finish at about .540 at least to even come close to the eighth spot.

      Somebody yesterday protested that Kurt’s calculation was dubious, and postulated a scenario which amounted to little more than unwitting spin of the same. He had said that the Lakers only need to make up five games to catch the eight spot.

      But what that person didn’t take into consideration was that they have to catch teams playing at an above .500 pace. So LA would have to start playing at an above .600 pace to have a chance.

      So either way you look at it, they have to win 30 games. The only exception would be if two teams out of Denver, Portland, Houston, and Utah play under .500 the rest of the way. I could see one of those four doing it, but two of them is pretty unlikely.

  12. 13in35sports - Jan 12, 2013 at 6:25 AM

    In the 17 years since Kobe was drafted what other significant talent was drafted besides Andrew Bynum? And even he was limited and still is limited with his never ending knee problems. The point is everyone keeps talking about trades but realistically who do the Lakers have to offer. Gasol is busted on offense and defense and costs too much, Dwight is in the final year of his contract with a bad back and folks don’t want to rent him for half a season on HOPE! Nash is NOT the pg he once was and is only getting older and he still doesn’t play ANY defense. Kobe will die a Laker and the rest of the roster is pretty much a list of average Joes and bums. Once the Lakers paired Shaq and Kobe, and added Phil Jackson they forgot how to draft and wanted to “Win Now!!” The problem is you can’t always win now, especially with the roster they have now. If they’re still trying to win now it’s all over for them this season. These articles about the Lakers should basically be geared towards next season b/c there won’t be any championships coming out of Lakerland this season.

  13. rabbdogg - Jan 12, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    who do the old azz celtics have that any team would want? a PG that cant shoot?..thats about it..

    • andyhr17 - Jan 12, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      That’s similar to saying “Why would anyone want Shaq? Dude sucks at free throws”, “Why would anyone want Kobe, he’s a ballhog!”.

      You also don’t know how to spell the word ass.

    • mrcuret - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      At least that old team will be competing in the post season. Where will the old Lakers be come April?… Oh, that’s right, sitting in front of their TV’s watching the other teams compete. Lol

  14. cowboychris5xchamps - Jan 12, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    HAHAHAHA you stat nerds are killing me!!! I’ve never seen or heard so many mathematical theories since trig in high school! IF,IF,IF!!!! If the flakers squeak into the playoffs they’ll get swept by OKC and “IF” my last name was Dell I’d be driving a Lamborghini instead of a Chevy….

    • eventhorizon04 - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      ….Yeah, you have a statistical genius to guess the Lakers need around 45 wins, look at how many wins they have right now (15), and figure out that they need to win 30 more games.

      That’s high-level trigonometry, bro. Everybody on here must have gone to MIT to figure that out.

      • badintent - Jan 12, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        All ya have to do is Add. Add the Clippers to the list of Favorites to win the West. next question.

  15. doublezero74 - Jan 12, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Hmmm, curious. I presumed I’d see a post from bozo here defending his precious lakers and spewing insults to every other fan base, particularly the one from Boston. Weird

    • bozosforall - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Unlike you, I have a life.

  16. omniusprime - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    That dullard Dumbtoni should have said that the season started his first game, not now when it is too late. As a long time Laker fan since Wilt joined the team I hate to say that I have already given up on the Lakers making the playoffs. As long as they have the dumbest coach in the NBA and the most worthless excuse for a point guard in Ancient Nash the Lakers will never be a title contender. Plus the news gets worse because Steve Flake will be coming off the injured list soon and showing us all how pathetic he is at point guard.

    Until Daddy Buss wakes up and fires that worthless brat he begat, Jerky Boy Jimmy, the Lakers will suffer from extreme upper mismanagement. That dimwitted bozo should have done everything he could have to bring Phil Jackson back, but he let his stinking pride get in the way of making smart personnel decisions. As they say “Pride goeth before a Fall”!

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Away Ancient Nash and Steve Flake!!! We Want Phil!!! Fire Jerky Boy Jimmy!!!

    • infectorman - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      I thought Nash and his 82 year old legs were going to rip it up this year?
      Along with D12, Softie Gasol and the KoME the gunner, y’all were a lock to get to the finals, no?

      This is almost as much fun as watching the Yankees set the all time Professional sports record for futility back in 04′ ALCS. Almost

      • bozosforall - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:29 PM

        Poor Boston…both New York and Los Angeles will always be better cities than your overrated and whiny little city.

      • infectorman - Jan 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        Your overpaid fraudulent team is the only team in the league that hasn’t even won a single game in 2013, toolboy! BaHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

        Newsflash, no one cares what you think of any city.
        We all know you’re an infantile 2-grader that devolves into name calling and geographically based insults at the first sign of anyone pointing out facts about the teams you worship like a 2-nd grade school boy.

        You ARE the laughing stock of this site!!! Frontrunner!
        Bahahahahhahahaha1

    • eventhorizon04 - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      Phil isn’t coming.

      Jim Buss publicly humiliated Phil by calling to see if he was interested in the job before leaking” Phil’s alleged demands and hiring D’Antoni.

      Also, you really think Phil Jackson is stupid enough to take over in the middle of a virtually lost season?

  17. paulhargis53 - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    That’s not how bozosforall operates. You see, bozo is actually a turd called lakerluver also. For the most part, lakerluver covers the lakers post(unless they are in a losing streak, then he disappears), and bozo usually cruises JUST the Celtics posts. First of all, its pathetic to have 2 screen names, 2nd of all, if you are going to have two, at least one of them should be worthwhile. This guy has got to be the most sorry person posting on here.
    oh yeah, if on or the other gets called out for being the same guy, there is usually a back to back posting from each name- that’s only when the lakers are winning though

    • bozosforall - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Once again, you how your idiocy. I am not nor have ever been “lakerluver”. And as for being a turd, no one here is a bigger chunk of feces than you, Pudhummer53.

  18. paulhargis53 - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Malt, I’m going to make you go through all the posts to see my response.

    Yes the bet is still on. I will also give the out that if neither makes the playoffs, that its off.
    The race is not as close as you think though. Records are:
    Lakers 15-21
    Celtics 19-17
    The lakers are 5.5 out of the 8th seed.
    The celtics are 4.0 out of 1st in their division.
    I haveno doubt that you’ll hold up your end of the bet, but I’m thinking that lakerluver won’t follow through.
    He’s just that type of sh*tstain to do it. Look how he disappears when the team is doing bad.

  19. grizzlystrike - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    As a Phoenix fan it’s gonna be nice to have two lottery picks this year.

    • drago2012 - Jan 12, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Glad to see Lakers going down in flames!!! The real reason they are not winning is because they brought in the ALLEY BALL system. This system is one and done. Basketball is a beautiful game if you pass and move the ball around before you shoot. You look at their stars and on paper they look good, but you don’t play on paper, you play on basketball court. You only see Bryan jacking up 25 to 30 shots night in and night out and the rest of the teammates look like bunch of slugs standing around watching and hoping few will go in. If you want to see real basketball just watch the destruction of New York Knicks by my BULLS.. DDAAAA BBBBUUUUULLLLLSS!!!!!

      • Kurt Helin - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        The Bulls play beautiful basketball?

  20. baredon - Jan 12, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Kobe better keep a count on his championship rings… he ain’t getting no more….

  21. unxpexted1 - Jan 12, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Oppenent points in last three games:

    Rockets: 125
    Spurs: 108
    OKC: 116

    Granted these are high powered offenses but we have had a 100 points in each of these last 3 games as well, but we cant stop anybody. This is clearly going to be our demise unless it gets under control.

  22. themagicfanguy - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Laker’s season is already over. Gasol and Howard are just trying to stay away from it as much as possible, you’ll probably see a couple more concussions and the like this season… I know Howard will fake an injury if he isn’t happy.

  23. isujames - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    I love it.

  24. mazblast - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    I watched a lot of last night’s game, and I saw a defense that stops neither the roll man nor the pick man, and an offense that features (1) Nash trying the same moves that worked a few years ago but don’t now and (2) Kobe dribbling, dribbling, dribbling before launching a missed jump shot. I saw NOTHING that indicated any of the improvement necessary to crawl back into the playoff picture. Even Fat Jack Nicholson gave up and left long before this one was over.

    The final score was no indication of how thoroughly OKC dominated the Mighty Lakers, as it was garbage time from midway through the 4th, when the Thunder led by 25.

    The only way this Laker team makes the playoffs, let alone does something once there, is if David Stern forces some team to make a truly horrid trade with them a la the Gasol deal a few years ago.

    • bozosforall - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:35 PM

      Like he did with the cancelled Chris Paul trade?

  25. remyje - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    stick a fork in ‘em

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