Is the Lakers Killer Instinct Alive?

It’s not that the Lakers aren’t winning enough games — they have the best record in the league — but how they are doing it does not inspire a lot of confidence.

In more games than fans want to count this season, the Lakers have raced out to a big lead only to give it all back and have to fight for the win in the end.

And Phil Jackson has noticed.

“I thought we had perhaps a better killer instinct earlier I the year, if you can use that term…” Jackson said after the Dallas game Sunday. “When we had a team that when they were up 15 wanted to make it 25, they wanted to take the heart out of teams. Right now we kind of play around with teams at times, we allow them to stay in games. This was one of them today.”

Right now the bench play — particularly the guard play — is at the heart of the problem. For the past month the Lakers bench has been where leads have gone to die.

But the return of Andrew Bynum next month will help that, because Lamar Odom (or possibly Bynum) will play with that second unit and provide a little more consistency at both ends of the floor. Right now Sasha Vujacic’s shot is off, but if Bynum is in the paint drawing defenders his looks will suddenly be a lot more open.

There is one other key thing Lakers fans need to remember — unlike last year’s Finals, this year’s Lakers are still winning games when the lead evaporates. That is a sign of maturity. Of course, not losing the lead in the first place would be the sign of a bigger one.

Kurt Helin often blows big leads over at Forum Blue & Gold.

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