Kobe Bryant shoots over Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
The Lakers have continued to struggle over the past week, dropping two of three.
Dwight Howard took responsibility for his low-energy performances the previous week against the Sacramento Kings and the Memphis Grizzlies. Coach Mike D'Antoni admitted that Jordan Hill's role was decreasing in order to increase the team's tempo with Antawn Jamison.
Leading up to the game against the Indiana Pacers, Kobe Bryant announced on Facebook that he was "under the weather." Bryant would put up 40, but the Lakers lost a painful, low-scoring game, 79-77. Bryant was baffled by his own performance, turning the ball over 10 times.
The problem at its core is that the Lakers are pointless without Steve Nash. Without him, they're leading the league in turnovers. D'Antoni admitted that there's no real answer except relying on their defense to carry them until Nash returns. Steve Blake also remains out with an abdominal strain.
Much of the blame has fallen on Pau Gasol, who has admittedly struggled to find his role alongside Howard. Although it's not clear if the Lakers will eventually trade him, his trade bonus is significantly less than the 15% written into his contract.
Given half of the team's eight losses (now five of nine) were left at the free-throw line (where Howard has notably struggled), Gasol isn't the only Laker responsible for the team's disappointing record.
If the Lakers are going to get additional help from the outside, it isn't going to be from Derek Fisher or Mickael Pietrus.
The Lakers got some level of redemption on Friday, blasting the Denver Nuggets, 122-103, with big games from Howard and Jamison. Howard even hit the second three-pointer of his career.
Not only would Hill's minutes decline for Jamison, so would Gasol's.
Meanwhile, Phil Jackson was casually interviewed by TMZ, saying the Lakers made their coaching decision in a midnight "coup."
The Lakers sent both their rookies, Robert Sacre and Darius Johnson-Odom, to the D-League. Both put up big numbers to help the D-Fenders start 2-0. If anything, the Lakers missed Sacre's sideline enthusiasm.
Bryant, Nash and Howard were included on the list of top jersey sellers at the NBA Store in New York (and online). Howard lost a shooting contest to a man in a lion costume.
The week came to a close with a loss to the Magic at Staples Center, with Orlando repeatedly sending Howard to the line intentionally, crippling the Lakers' offense. Howard would miss 12 altogether, but it was the Lakers' inability to defend that was far more puzzling, as the team fell to 8-9 on the season.
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