No, "the sky is not falling on the Lakers," as Coach Phil Jackson admonished the media after practice Tuesday.
But in the eyes of Lakers Nation, these are gloomy days.
The Lakers' faithful reached the stage of despondency after just one loss, after the Houston Rockets defeated their beloved team in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday night at Staples Center, taking home-court advantage in the process.
The Lakers were not the same team that had the second-best record in the NBA at 65-17 and that many picked to win the championship.
"We were totally out of character last night as to who we were as a basketball team," Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons said Tuesday.
The Lakers must get back in character tonight in Game 2 at Staples Center or risk going down 0-2 in the best-of-seven series. Among the things they must improve:
Better one-on-one defense
The Lakers allowed too much penetration, particularly to super-quick point guard Aaron Brooks, who got into the teeth of the defense time and time again. The Lakers must slow him down. The Lakers also must play Yao Ming tougher one-on-one. Andrew Bynum has to do a better of job of beating Yao to his spots and Bynum has to go out and defend Yao when he shoots long jumpers.
The Lakers didn't talk enough on defense, looking confused at times on when to help out.
"We just did not play good, solid one-on-one defense," said Cleamons, who is in charge of scouting the Rockets for this series.
Pressure the basketball
The Lakers had 11 steals and four blocked shots, but they need more deflections. By putting pressure on the passer, it'll make it harder for the Rockets to get the basketball inside to Yao.
The Lakers outrebounded the Rockets, 39-35, but they didn't get to enough loose balls.
The Lakers' offense looked out of sync. They must play together and pass the ball better.
Control the tempo
The Lakers don't want to play race-horse basketball. But if the score is in the low 80s or 90s, that's a better tempo for the Rockets. The Lakers want the score to be in the high 90s or over the 100-point mark. "I'm quite sure all of us are disappointed that we lost the game," Cleamons said. "At the same time, a loss is a loss. We can't get it back. But the fact remains, if we play better in any one of those areas, I think the game could have had a different outcome. But we didn't. That's why we're sitting here 0-1."
The Rockets had a good game plan and hope to stick with it. Among the things they need to do:
The Rockets must continue to play good, solid team defense. They have two good defenders in Ron Artest and Shane Battier, both of whom have the assignment of guarding Kobe Bryant.
The Rockets must continue to work the ball inside to Yao and then pass outside for open shots. Yao, at 7 feet 6, is a handful for the Lakers and Bynum and Pau Gasol to defend.