Antawn Jamison has averaged 19.5 points a game during his career, but this… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
It's been a strange season for the Lakers by all accounts.
Dwight Howard missed half of the preseason recovering from back surgery. Kobe Bryant sat before the regular season with a foot injury. Steve Nash got hurt in the second game of the season and his backup, Steve Blake, suffered an abdominal injury.
Then the team fired Coach Mike Brown after a 1-4 start.
After a brief stint with Bernie Bickerstaff at the helm, the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni as coach but Nash was sidelined until late December and Blake remains sidelined.
Should the Lakers have a better record than 15-17?
Based on expectations, absolutely.
Nonetheless, this is the team as it has been built. Other than Blake, the players are healthy and D'Antoni is now charged with finding a way to get the most out of his lineup.
"The hardest problem is figuring out who can play -- who I'm comfortable with, who I'm not," said D'Antoni. "I've kind of gone through the gamut. I've tried everything and usually you do that in September, October and half of November, even December, to try to get it straight. I haven't got it straight yet. We're going to keep trying combinations to see if there's something we can stick with."
Metta World Peace has moved from the starting lineup to the bench. Now, he's a starter again. Antawn Jamison disappeared. D'Antoni even experimented with second-year player Darius Morris as the starting two guard with Kobe Bryant moving to small forward.
So far, the results, across the board, have been mixed.
"The biggest challenge is finding eight to nine to 10 guys that I can make them comfortable in their roles and then I'm comfortable with what they give us and they get a consistency," D'Antoni said. "I've struggled with that, not knowing different guys and maybe having somebody playing real well for a couple, then not, and then jerking them out. I've got to settle in on a rotation, I'm still hunting and pecking."
The Lakers have a chance to improve upon their record, hosting the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. As spotty as the team has been over recent weeks, the Lakers are still just 2 1/2 games behind both the seventh-place Portland Trail Blazers (18-15) and eighth-place Nuggets (19-16).
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.