On Thursday morning, the New Jersey Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson for losing seven of his last 10 games and compiling a 14-14 record. Sadly, that record is better than the Los Angeles Lakers’ 14-15. Do the Brooklyn Nets have higher standards than the Lakers?
Although the Nets are currently a playoff team and do not have a losing record, they were nose-diving in a bad way. After back-to-back blowout losses to the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks, the Nets had dropped 10 of their last 13. Even more troubling, their only wins during that stretch were close contests against Toronto, Detroit and Philadelphia. Of those three, only Philadelphia is close to the playoff picture.
The Lakers may have a worse record than the Nets, but the Lakers are on the rise.
Playing a mile high in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back during the holiday season offered several excuses for why the Lakers lacked energy in Wednesday’s loss to the Nuggets. Still, that was the first time the Lakers had lost in six games, and the Nuggets had the best home record in the NBA.
The Lakers' inconsistent energy needs to be addressed, but LA is improving enough to compete with the good teams at home or on the road. On Friday, Portland comes to town, and the Lakers face another team that is at the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff picture.
In Denver, Dwight Howard was ejected for a flagrant foul, but most neutrals and analysts seemed to believe Howard would be fined but not suspended. Prior to the ejection, Howard was struggling on the defensive end of the floor as the Lakers were getting handily beaten on points in the paint all night.
The Lakers could not guard their own hoop and gave up 126 points. The Lakers may be old and slow, but they are also long and strong, something that did not come across on the defensive end in the loss to Denver. Still, no one honestly believed this team was going undefeated for the remainder of the season.
Losses are a part of basketball.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni voiced his team’s positive approach after the game.
"It's not a step backward," D'Antoni said. "We won five in a row, and we’re going to get the one at home. We’re good."