For the first time in over a month, the Lakers are three games below .500. The last time the Lakers fell this low, head coach Mike Brown was fired and run out of Los Angeles. General Manager Mitch Kupchak said that the reasons for that firing were that the team was not improving and the results were simply not good enough. It was about winning.
The Lakers interim coach, Bernie Bickerstaff, put together a 4-1 record to bring the Lakers back to 6-6 before handing the team off to Mike D’Antoni on Nov. 20. Nearly three weeks later, the Lakers have reverted to the losing bunch Mike Brown left behind.
They lacked energy for 48 minutes. They committed too many turnovers. They could not seem to work as a cohesive unit. Most importantly, they didn't win.
Against the Jazz, the Lakers started out the game sluggish and spotted the Jazz an 8-point lead. After clawing back with disciplined defense and fluid offense, the Lakers took a 27-25 lead into the second quarter. Then, it was déjà vu with Enes Cantor and DeMarre Carrol doing their best Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook impersonations. Suddenly, the second quarter was over and the Lakers had given up 35 points and only scored 24.
The Lakers fought back to make it a 3-point game after three quarters. With just under six minutes remaining in the game, the Lakers were down by 15 matching the Lakers low energy. Somehow, they battled to give themselves a chance late in the game, but ultimately, the effort fell short and came too late.
In his post-game press conference, D’Antoni summed up the team sentiment with his opening words, “We’re not very good right now.”
Dwight Howard added something slightly more optimistic, “We have to learn how to play together. And we will. It takes time. We’re going to get it. It’s going to click one day and all this mess will be over with. We have to do our best not to get frustrated.”
“It starts with energy. It starts with communication. You got to have the will to want to play defense and the will to help each other. We’ll get it.”
Clearly, Howard and his teammates are reminding themselves to be patient. Meanwhile, Lakers fans are begining to lose their patience. Sunday night featured loud boos and even some isolated "We want Phil!" screams.
With fans starting to lose patience, Howard reminded everyone that he wants the same thing.
"We just want to win."