The Los Angeles Lakers have a choice in Charlotte Friday night: They can heal as a team or crumble as individuals.
The Boston blowout on Thursday night was a case of individuals playing against a team, and it was not pretty for LA.
Sure, Kobe Bryant’s stat-line looked good with 27 points and seven rebounds, but the Lakers’ team never brought the energy to play. Also, Bryant ending the night without a single assist was indicative of the Lakers' ball movement.
Dwight Howard turned up at the TD Garden in Boston, but his only real contribution was drawing fouls in the first quarter. After that, the Lakers forgot that they need to play as a team, communicate on defense, and pass the ball.
Isolation offense and no defense are not the key ingredients in the winning formula. An efficient 27 points from Bryant are not good enough for this season’s disjointed Lakers to win.
Friday’s opponents, the Bobcats, are not a good team. Actually, they are the worst team in the league according to their 11-37 record. Charlotte only has six wins in 24 games at the Time Warner Cable Arena—the worse home record in the NBA.
Unfortunately, records don’t matter with how bad the Lakers are capable of playing.
When these two teams met in mid-December, the Lakers trailed by 18 points in the second half at Staples Center. The Bobcats were 7-16 on the season at that point, and the Lakers needed an incredible fourth quarter comeback to squeak out a 101-100 win over the worst team in the league.
After Thursday’s performance in Boston, the Lakers are more than capable of losing to a Bobcats team that has only won twice in its last 15 games.
If the Lakers want to avoid crashing out of the race for the playoffs, they need to start sharing the ball and playing defense. Kobe Bryant needs to accept responsibility for this team’s offense by passing, not scoring. Howard needs to take responsibility for this team’s defense by communicating, not aimlessly standing.
If the Lakers lose on Friday night to the Charlotte Bobcats, this road trip and this season will likely end in disaster. If the Lakers blow it on Friday night, only a fool would expect a miracle in Miami on Sunday.