Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 11/28/12
LOS ANGELES Theres one conclusion about the 2012-13 Lakers that isabsolutely undeniable: No one themselves included knows which Laker team isgoing to show up on a night-to-night basis. Once again under .500, the Lakers 7-8record is conclusive proof. Saturday night in Dallas they looked as good as any team inthe NBA, crushing the Mavericks by 26. Tuesday night in the supposedly friendlyclimes of Staples Center, the Lakers were absolutely horrible in losing toIndiana 79-77. The Pacers werent very good, either, but one of the teams hadto win, and Indiana did it on a game-winning layup by George Hill with 0.01seconds left. Ballgame over. Laker turmoil starting over again. Its hard to win a game when you miss 20 foul shots, saidhead coach Mike DAntoni, shaking his head in disbelief the sluggish Lakers were23 of 43 from the line and also committed 21 turnovers. That was ugly. Butuntil Steve (Nash) gets back, were going to have to dig deep and win some ofthese ugly games. When Steve is running things, a lot of this will go away.Hed better hope something changes, because even withflu-ridden Kobe Bryant scoring 40 points for the 114th time in his career ranksthird all time the rest of the team was able to account for just 37. And Nashcant help his teammates make free throws, which was the true difference in theoutcome. They missed all five freebies down the stretch, with Metta World Peaceand Dwight Howard clanking two each within one second of each other. Despite his high scoring game, which included a 3-pointer thattied it at 77 with 24.5 seconds left, Bryant completed an odd triple-doublewith 10 rebounds and 10 of the Lakers 21 turnovers. He wasnt the least bithesitant to put the blame on his shoulders, the same shoulders on which hetried to carry his teammates for most of the game.I have to take care of my responsibilities, said Bryant,who has become the Lakers de facto point guard since Nash fractured his leglast month. I have to minimize my mistakes. Ten turnovers is way too many forme. It boggles my mind that I had 10 turnovers.My responsibility is to pick everybody up, and it doesntmatter that we missed 20 free throws, we still could have won the game. Thefact is, we had 10 possessions in which we didnt get a look at the basketbecause I turned it over.I dont go home and look at it and say well, we missed 20free throws and thats why we lost the game. I look at my mistakes and try tocorrect those.On the positive side, LA did play good defense until Hillswinning layup, holding the Pacers to 36.7 percent shooting and outreboundingthem 56-50. So, in the midst of all the negativity, DAntoni tried toaccentuate the positive after the loss.Im proud of the guys in the way they fought and that theystill had a chance to win, DAntoni said. It defies statistical logic. Butthe defense was good, and they played hard. But geez, offensively, that was notnice. That was a tough one.They get a chance for redemption Friday night at homeagainst the Denver Nuggets.THREE THOUGHTS1 Scoring 40 points is a nice individual accomplishment,and with some past Laker teams a necessity for Bryant. But if he has to score40 for this offense to win any game, LA could be in trouble. DAntoni has madeit clear since he was hired that when his offensive scheme is running at itsbest, many players will see their scoring averages go up significantly.However, one of the main positives of the offense is that it moves the ballquickly and provides multiple scoring opportunities on every possession. If theball movement has to slow down so Bryant can be counted on to carry the load,it will defeat the purpose of DAntonis plan and keep the score lower than itneeds to be for the team to win.2 It was a pleasure to see the Lakers defense show upagainst the Pacers. This isnt even a very good defensive team right now, butit can be if it plays with the same enthusiasm and precision that DAntoni iscounting on from his offense. Its crucial for Howard to be the focus of thedefensive effort inside and control the paint with blocks and intimidations. Histeammates need to force the opposing player underneath where Howard will bewaiting for him. Thats the way I want to play, Howard said Tuesday. I wantto dominate down low and block as many shots as I can. Thats how I look at myjob. I dont necessarily have to score a lot of points. I need to play greatdefense a Bill Russell type of defense. Thats what wins championships. HadPau Gasol been able to slow Hill down a split second longer, Howard probablywould have gotten to Hills shot or at least changed the trajectory and thegame might have gone into overtime.3 Its painful to watch DAntoni coach the Lakers. Notbecause of the way the team is playing, but because of the tremendous amount ofpain he must be in. It hasnt even been a full month since he had total kneereplacement surgery, and there he is, walking up and down the sidelines of anNBA game ... also coaching practices and doing the media sessions. The playersshould look at their coach, watch him hobble in pain so he can help this teamwin a championship. It should be enough motivation for them to see what itmeans to be totally dedicated. Maybe it will prevent a repeat of the offensiveimplosion against Indiana Tuesday night.
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