|Photo credit: AP|
So this kind of lackluster production begs the obvious question, why? Why is this team not meeting expectations? Is it their weak defense? Lack of energy? Nash's stubborn and prolonging injury? New coach? Lack of bench contribution? Or should we just play it safe by answering all of the above?
Regardless of the answer, Lakers morale from having been at an all time high with the off season signing of Nash and Howard has to now be at an all time low. Coach D'Antoni walked in knowing that there would be a lot of work to do, but now he'll have to add the pressure of knowing very well that his employer leaves little wiggle room for mistakes as the season grows. This "work in progress" is a scripted diagnosis that fans are quickly catching on to. Results are now emotionally due.
No more err on the side of caution business. It's time to take risks. Give new opportunities to other players. Look at what Jamison did tonight with 25+ minutes. He scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. The team was also +10 when he was on the floor. Maybe D'Antoni benching Gasol late in the 3rd quarter was the smart move despite the loss.
Amongst all the confusion and uncertainty, there's one clear understanding Laker fans can always be sure of game in and game out - Kobe Bryant. Kobe's efficiency this early into the season has already been well documented by the media and bloggers galore, hence why he leads the league in points with 357. Mind you this is his 17th season.
As Kobe's expressed to the media before, he will get his no matter what. Now, it's become crucially necessary for the team's success that other key players get theirs as well. Whether this is orchestrated by D'Antoni or team captain, it will have to happen. Tonight, Gasol and Howard combined for 13 points, 8 rebounds and 8 turnovers. Where's Magic when you need him?
D'Antoni made this bold statement at his introduction press conference:
"If we're [the team] not averaging 110-115 points per game, we need to talk."
Since D'Antoni's arrival the Lakers are 2-4 with meeting that goal. "Talking" may have to begin soon.