If something does not change dramatically in the immediate future, the Los Angeles Lakers can kiss the playoffs goodbye. Heck, the playoffs may not even be close enough to kiss goodbye if the Lakers continue to play this way. The Lakers may be sending a desperate text message or leaving a voicemail begging the playoffs to meet and say goodbye, and that never works out well, does it?
Even if the Lakers figure out a way to slog through games and collect enough wins to make the postseason, something dramatic has to occur over the next nine games, or the Lakers can expect to get embarrassed in the first round of the playoffs. The Spurs may be the fans’ choice for a first round matchup, but San Antonio is the best team in the West, and that means they can tear the Lakers apart if LA continues to turn the ball over.
Among the plethora of problems, turnovers are the plague that threatens to bring about the Lakers’ black death.
Over their recent stretch of poor play—three losses in four games since Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant returned—the Lakers have turned the ball over 17 or more times thrice. In small sample sizes, averages can often mislead due to outliers, and the Lakers’ issue with turning the ball over is something that averages simply cannot do justice. The nine-turnover loss at Golden State was an outlier, and it is not representative of a team that does not value every offensive possession (lack of value on defensive possessions is a discussion for another day, but that loss to Golden State is a good game to look at for that discussion).
And no Laker is above blame when it comes to turnovers.
Since returning from his ankle injury, Kobe Bryant has turned the ball over, and it has killed the Lakers. He had six turnovers against Milwaukee, six turnovers against Minnesota, and six turnovers against Washington. Considering the amount of trust the Lakers place in Bryant with the basketball, those numbers are unacceptable.
Bryant is not the only guilty party, but to kill the snake, one must cut off its head. The Black Mamba must understand this concept, and he is the head of the Lakers—for better or worse. Sorry, Mike D’Antoni, you may be blamed for this season if it ends as currently projected, but this is Vino’s team.
If this was truly D’Antoni’s team, the Lakers would actually move the ball in the fourth quarter. They don’t. They play isolation basketball, and the isolated figure holding the ball is one Kobe Bean Bryant. If they were winning, no one would complain about how ugly it looks. Because when he is amazing, there is nothing better to watch than Kobe Bryant taking over.
However, the Lakers aren’t winning, and playing one on five with the game on the line in a team sport is stupid when it keeps resulting in losses.
D’Antoni preaches that the ball moves and finds energy. In the fourth quarter, the ball does not move, and the Lakers certainly don’t look like a team that is energized. Turnovers and lack of ball movement are dooming the Lakers, and it does not take a basketball expert to see why the Lakers are losing.
Something needs to change quickly, or the Lakers can kiss the playoffs goodbye.