Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/30/12
EL SEGUNDO, CA--The Lakers get a brief respite on their Grammy Awards-mandated Roadtrip from Hell when they say hello and goodbye to STAPLES Center Tuesday night as they host the Charlotte Bobcats. After splitting a pair on the road over the weekendlosing to Milwaukee, then beating MinnesotaMike Brown's bunch will spend most of February away from Los Angeles. Nine of their next 13 will be on the road as STAPLES prepares to host the Grammys on Feb. 12. It happens every year and effects the Clippers and hockey Kings as well, so it's certainly not a surprise to any of the teams. They just hop on their chartered jets and deal with it. However, for a Laker team that has been abysmal on the road so far this season (2-7), it couldn't have come at a worse time. Following their match against the Bobcats, they play six consecutive games in Denver, Utah, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Toronto. With new players, new offensive and defensive schemes, and very little practice time available, the circumstances might be enough to destroy a first year coach. Especially under the enormous expectations of coaching the Lakers, where anything less than a trip to the Finals is considered a bad season. Fortunately, this isn't Brown's first rodeo. Literally. When I was an assistant in San Antonio, every year we had the (San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo) trip, so I'm kinda used to it,' Brown said, noting that the rodeo wasn't quite as glamorous as the Grammy Awards. It's kind of cool, actually. My wife is going to be able to go, and that's a benefit. Especially when you can see Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Maroon 5 on stage, instead of watching the Junior Breeding Swine or the Open Breeding Boer Goats doing their thingwhatever that may be. In the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Lakers went to the Finals all three years, losing to Boston in '08, then beating Orlando in '09 and the Celtics in '10. In those years, they played a total of 35 road games on the Grammy trip from late January through late February, going 26-9 overall. In the Spurs last three championship years2003, 2005, 2007they totaled 26 games on the road after handing the AT&T Center over to the swine, cattle and horses, winning 18 and losing eight. So, it's pretty clear that if you're a team with championship ability, winning on the road is not a monumental task. As of yet, though, the Lakers have shown they're a fringe title-contender at best, and winning on the road has been nearly impossible. Heck, Sunday night's 106-100 win against the Timberwolves was the first time they've scored 100 or more points in a game away from Staples. So while things look like they may be getting a bit better, Kobe Bryant and his teammates have a very long way to go before becoming even just respectable in road games. I think it's extremely fair (to say that), Bryant said. This being a shortened season it is a crucial, critical time for us with all these road games staring us in the face, and as poorly as we've played on the road. We've got to figure out a way to win them. We're still searching and we need to find our identity. I do think we're starting to find a niche for everybody on the ballclub, and we're picking up our intensity level. We just need to do it consistently. Consistency is the key to all of it. That, and keeping your edge. It's human nature to (let down) sometimes, but we have to guard against that. Teams have been playing with so much intensity against us on their home floors, and we haven't stepped up to meet that challenge. That's got to change. White Bryant referred to a lack of intensity hurting the Lakers away from STAPLES, forward Pau Gasol says the Lakers need to show the same kind of relentless aggression as they did in their hard-fought, come-from-behind win over the Clippers last Wednesday. We have to play more solid on the road, said Gasol, do whatever it takes to get W's on the road. There's a definite sense of urgency to win on the road and we need to establish our aggressiveness. When an opponent tries to get physical with us, we have to give it right back. That's the only way you can play this game and be successful. You can't back down to anyone at anytime. I feel we have a tremendous amount of talent on the team, and once everyone establishes himself offensively and defensively, and plays hard home and road, we'll be a championship-caliber team. And if it doesn't happen that way? I don't even think like that. I believe in my teammates and the coaches. It's been a transition period for everyone involved with the Lakers. When we put it all together we'll be one of the elite teams in the NBA.The next nine games away from home would be a pretty good time to start. Otherwise, a team once thought to be a Finals participant might begin to look like nothing more than a playoff contender.
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