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Lakers continue to regress in latest loss to Bulls

Jan 22, 2013, 1:01 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol listens to Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Chicago

The latest drama surrounding your 2012-13 Lakers unfolded before the game in Chicago even began on Monday. But it was merely a distraction, and a meaningless one at that in the grand scheme of what is becoming more evident with each passing game that is lost.

The Lakers are getting worse, not better. And all of their flaws were on display simultaneously during a 95-83 loss to a Bulls team that was playing without its leading scorer.

L.A. is now just 17-24 on the season, and four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.

Pau Gasol returned to the bench, head coach Mike D’Antoni announced before tip-off, in an effort to go with a smaller lineup that theoretically would be more conducive to running his offensive system.

As he did in Gasol’s first game back from a concussion that sidelined him for five games, D’Antoni played Gasol with the rest of the starters for the entire fourth quarter, so the thing about he and Dwight Howard being unable to play together clearly wasn’t what drove that decision.

Gasol was aggressive if nothing else, and provided a decent offensive spark while finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Earl Clark, who got the start in place of Gasol, finished with 12 and eight in almost 35 minutes.

On, then, to Howard, who gave the Lakers less than nothing on either end of the floor. He seemed to be laboring to get around all night long, with nonexistent defensive rotations and an offensive game that saw him stripped or unable to finish through contact time and again. Howard finished with eight points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots in 30 minutes, but it’s hard to stress just how ineffective he was in this one.

Luol Deng was forced to miss Monday’s game for the Bulls with a hamstring strain, but Chicago didn’t miss his team-best 17.4 points per game. That’s because Kirk Hinrich got loose for a season-high 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, thanks in large part to pick and roll situations where Steve Nash continually got lost defensively.

It’s silly to pick on Nash individually, though, when the team defense overall was once again a real issue. The rotations and closeouts were brutal, and Chicago was able to knock down over 52 percent of its attempts from three-point distance because of it.

Add in another miserable shooting night from Kobe Bryant, who finished 7-of-22 from the field, including making just one of his seven attempts in the fourth quarter, and you have the game’s ultimate result.

The Gasol issue will play itself out one way or another; either he’ll come to terms with the way D’Antoni is currently choosing to use him, or he’ll cause problems to the point where the Lakers will have no choice but to deal him at the deadline.

But when peering through this mess of a season in Los Angeles, remember that these smaller issues are just a diversion from the greater one, which is this: The Lakers are getting worse, not better. And eventually, they will have to do something about it.

  1. giselleisasucubus - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Anyone else want to question me now? I told you guys this Lakers team was flawed and I was laughed at. I told u guys they couldn’t hold the 03/04 Lakers jock strap, and I was laughed at again. So, I again, this team was put together wrong, and then they made it worse adding that clown of a coach. Sorry to say I told you all so…who am I kidding? For those who ripped me, hahahahaha. Hey clown, still question if I’m a scout? I’ve forgotten more about basketball than you will ever know.

  2. mazblast - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Who can the Lakers trade? Let’s take a look–

    1. KoMe. Huge contract, huge ego, full no-trade clause and has made it clear he’ll invoke it. Nope.
    2. Howard. Obviously not at full strength. Known quitter. Offensive skills have never been that great. Free agent at the end of the year. Nope.
    3. Nash. Old by basketball standards and not getting younger. Offensive skills fading, defensive skills non-existent. If he can’t thrive under D’Antoni…Nope.
    4. Gasol. Aging, soft on defense, won’t mix it up inside. Big contract that no one wants and few can afford. Nope.
    5. Metta. Aging. High maintenance. Not the defensive thresher he once was. To his credit, plays as hard as ever. Maybe but unlikely.
    6. The rest of the players. Would have to improve greatly to be considered role players. Mostly low-salary guys brought in to keep the team under the salary cap. Nothing to see here.
    7. Draft picks. Oops, don’t have a first round pick to deal. Ouch.

  3. paulhargis53 - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    17-24 at the halfway mark. This team f***ing stinks. Damn right we are going to rub it in after all the stuff we heard prior to the season. You lakers fans just need to sit back and take it. Don’t whine, don’t cry. You’ve earned every last bit of this vitrol.

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