Jazz power forward Paul Millsap knocks the ball from the grasp of Lakers… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)
After their loss to the Utah Jazz, the Lakers sit at the bottom of the Western Conference with a 1-4 record. Two teams in the East remain winless (Washington and Detroit). The Toronto Raptors match the Lakers' record through five.
Simply put, the Lakers are neck and neck with lottery teams.
This can't be what the franchise expected when they came together with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. The Lakers' lone win was against the 0-5 Pistons.
Still, the team is only three games behind the 4-1 San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. They're just a game and a half behind the seventh-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder (2-2). The Golden State Warriors and Clippers are just two ahead in the Pacific Division.
The Lakers have plenty of time to straighten out but have they shown any recent signs of improvement? Does the win against a woeful Detroit squad merit a pat on the back?
There's a litany of reasons from the Steve Nash injury to Dwight Howard's six months off with back surgery. Most "excuses" are valid but with the Lakers, they may not matter. The team is expected to win. Bryant expects to win.
Can Coach Mike Brown keep (or rather get) his players on message or will he lose them along the way?
If Brown is made scapegoat, he'll have had a lockout-shortened season and a star-point guard with a broken leg as his legacy. Sometimes life simply isn't fair.
How much is Brown to blame and how much is circumstance? The answer isn't so clear.
Meanwhile, the Lakers play their next six games at home. It's an opportunity to course correct.
They simply can't afford to keep losing, with or without Nash.
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You can email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.