The Lakers lost to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, and they fell to 0-3 on the road this season. It was the same tired story: the Lakers lacked energy and got out-hustled; Kobe took over to keep it close; Kobe committed too many turnover; and the Lakers lost.
The lack of energy in all three losses can be mathematically explained by two common statistics: points in the paint and fast break points.
In all three road losses, the Lakers were outscored in fast break points. Even with Mike D’Antoni’s fast-pace approach, the Lakers only managed 4 fast break points to 13 for the Kings. The Lakers’ inability to attack early in the shot clock meant the Lakers missed out on potential easy baskets, and the reason to end up with only four fast break points over 48 minutes is a lack of energy.
The Lakers' lack of energy also appears in their inability to dominate points in the paint. The Lakers have two 7-footers waiting under the basket in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. With these twin towers, the Lakers should shoot a high percentage from inside the paint on one end, and the two tall deterrents should stop opponents from scoring on the other.
The Trail Blazers, Jazz, and Kings all possessed a significantly shorter frontline than the Lakers, but the Lakers were not able to win the points in the paint in any of the three road games.
Against the Kings, the Lakers were out-scored 50-22 in the paint, and Howard and Gasol combined for only 15 points and two offensive rebounds.
The other constant trend with this Lakers team on the road is a visibly frustrated Kobe Bryant trying to will his team to a win. In the three road losses, Kobe is averaging 32 points per game. Against the Kings, Kobe put up 38 points. However, his individual efforts have also yielded far too many turnovers.
Against the Kings, Kobe committed seven turnovers, matching his season-high from the loss at Portland. In Salt Lake City, Kobe contributed six turnovers. Although Kobe performed amazing feats to keep his team close, he was hardly blameless in the losses.
As long as the two big men cannot control the paint on the road, the Lakers will have to live by the Kobe and die by the Kobe.