Kobe Bryant did all he could but inconsistencies, turnovers, and lack of team chemistry did the Los Angeles Lakers in once again in their 105-95 loss to their hallway rival, the Los Angeles Clippers.
First off, it’s important to note that All-Star point guard Steve Nash was out with an injury for the Lakers. As a result, Chris Paul had a field day against reserve guard Steve Blake. Blake gave it his all and had the best plus-minus for the Lakers on Friday night, but Paul was just too much. He dished out 15 assists, scored 18 points, and added six boards.
Paul was extremely dynamic and he was the catalyst of the Clippers offense on Friday. He created flow and energy and it was clear that the Clippers offense was clicking on all cylinders because of him.
That was the difference between the Clippers and Lakers on Friday night. The Clippers had chemistry, the Lakers, who are still trying to learn the Princeton offense, didn’t. The Lakers, as mentioned in previous posts, also only have three players remaining from the 2010 championship team.
It’s a new bunch and they need time to gel. Sometimes it feels like the players are confused on the court. The Princeton offense focuses on four players standing behind the three-point arc with the fifth player at the top of the key. These players need to be in constant motion and they also need to be moving the ball around until a mismatch arises. Once they identify a mismatch, they need to cut in past the defender or pass the ball to the player cutting in for an easy layup. That hasn’t been happening much. Instead, the Lakers have been turning the ball over numerous times (20 tonight) and have looked out of synch.
It’s supposed to be a slow offense that takes time to develop. As a result, theoretically there should be lower scoring games. However, the Lakers have allowed 99 or more points in their first three games. That might have a lot to do with the incessant turnovers the Lakers commit. Turnovers lead to more field goal opportunities for the opponent. In turn, the team can score more if they capitalize on those field goal opportunities. On Friday night, the Lakers had nine more turnovers committed than the Clippers. As a result, the Clippers shot the ball 16 more times than the Lakers.
That’s a huge difference.
If the Lakers cut their turnovers by 60 percent, they could be a 3-0 team right now even with all the inconsistencies. Unfortunately, it’s the inconsistencies and the lack of chemistry that are causing the turnovers. They’ll eventually get it, but it’s clear that Laker Nation is already getting weary with the team’s struggles.
This is the first 0-3 start for the team since the 1970s. Even the Smush Parker teams didn’t start 0-3. There’s still a long season ahead of the Lakers. That being said, if they spend the first half of the season playing .500 ball trying to figure out the system, they may end up a lower seed than desired for the playoffs. As we’ve seen in years past, home court advantage is extremely crucial.
Even Kobe is getting sick of it. It was clear that he was trying to take matters into his own hands on Friday night. He put up his first 40 point game of the 2012-13 campaign and if the on-court dysfunction continues, we’ll see him try to continue to force the issue to a greater extent.
That said, Kobe can keep the team afloat temporarily. The Lakers can only go as far as their weakest link takes them. As they head into Sunday’s battle against Detroit, they know they have plenty to work on and their only hope is that they solve their problems as soon as possible.