The Los Angeles Lakers don’t look like the Lakers these days, and that was grossly apparent on Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz.
In their 52nd game of the season, only one of the five starters had started more than half the games this season, and that guy’s name was Wesley Johnson, hardly a household name. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Nick Young were three marquee names unable to dress for the Lakers.
By the end of the first half, Steve Nash was pulled and joined his fellow recognizable faces on the sidelines.
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Even before Nash went down, the Lakers were without their top five scorers. Along with Bryant, Gasol and Young, Xavier Henry and Jodie Meeks were not fit to take the floor. For the second half of Tuesday’s embarassing loss, the Lakers played with eight guys.
One of those eight guys, Steve Blake, looked like he was playing with one arm. Another of the those eight guys, Shawne Williams, was on a 10-day contract. Three more of those eight guys had three season of combined NBA experience.
Even Jordan Farmar, one of the more recognizable Lakers on the roster, was sidelined.
Sure, their jersey displayed purple and gold, but the team that lost to the Utah Jazz lacked any resemblance to the regal Lakers.
By the time the game ended, the most capable Laker was Chris Kaman, who is best remembered for his time with the LA Clippers. Tuesday, Kaman finished with 25 points on 24 shots. The fact that Kaman attempted 24 shots should help explain the types of options the Lakers had offensively.
Johnson and Williams were the Lakers’ second and third leading scorers. Both those guys could walk around in most neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and the majority of people would not know whether they played for the Lakers, Clippers or were just some rather freakishly tall people.
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Sure, the Lakers collected another loss—their 34th defeat in in 52 games—but these guys hardly looked like the Lakers anymore. Frankly, they haven’t looked like the Lakers for most of the season.
At this point, fans understand the season is lost and that gaining a draft pick should be the highest order of importance, but rooting for the Lakers to lose doesn’t feel right. Even if these guys don't look like Lakers, they wear the jersey.
Watching the Lakers play without “Kobe and Pau” or even just “Pau” still does not fully process. Ultimately, this season serves as an ongoing reminder that the name on the chest comes first, but the names on the back actually matter in LA.