What’s Wrong With The Lakers?

I’m not even going to go into detail of last night’s beatdown the Lakers suffered at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. We all saw it. We all were sick about it.

I want to look forward. I want to look towards Game 7 and what the Lakers are going to have to do to win that game.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are going to have to play better. And I believe they will play better because they couldn’t play any worse. Watching two seven-footers take jump shots and continually get beat on the inside is maddening. It’s almost like Pau and Drew forget that they are SEVEN FEET TALL.

Last night Pau played like he did during last season’s playoffs. When he wasn’t getting pushed around by players smaller than him he was moping up and down the court acting like his dog just died. (Either that or his girlfriend left him again.)

Andrew Bynum had one of the most lackluster double-doubles I have ever seen. Anybody who watched that game would have told you there was no way he had 16 rebounds.

Even worse than Pau and Drew was the total lack of effort on the defensive end by the rest of the team. When the Nuggets weren’t driving to the basket with little or no challenge, they were knocking down wide open jumpers.

I’m not asking them to play smothering, shut down defense, I’m just asking them to play SOME defense. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

It was sad to see Kobe’s effort last night go to waste. In a game where he should have inspired the rest of his team, his efforts fell flat. No one on the Lakers seemed to care that he was out there playing even though he was suffering from a stomach flu.

Despite his illness he scored 31 points and had two rebounds. I mention the rebounds because Pau only had one more rebound than Kobe. And Pau is seven feet tall and he wasn’t suffering from the stomach flu.

If the Lakers are to win Game 7 three things have to happen. First, Pau and Drew are going to have to play like the seven-foot All Stars that they are. Second, the rest of the team is going to have to play harder on defense. And third, Kobe Bryant is going to have to be Kobe Bryant.

I can guarantee you that at least one of those things will happen.

Are the Lakers Better WITHOUT Kobe?

How dare I even ask that question, right?  Of course the Lakers aren’t better without Kobe Bryant. But they are winning without him. And beating good teams, too. They have won their last four games, three of them against playoff teams.

Since Kobe has been on the bench Andrew Bynum has been a monster on the court.  He followed a 30 rebound game against the Spurs with a 30 point game against the Nuggets. Can those numbers hold up once Bryant comes back into the lineup? Some people think they can’t.

This reminds me of when Linsanity hit the New York Knicks. With Carmelo Anthony out, Jeremy Lin energized the team and led them on a great run. The fear in every Knicks fan’s mind was that Melo was going to come back and screw everything up.

That is the fear some Lakers fans have right now.

Can Kobe Bryant come back and be a complementary player to this team? Would anyone even suggest this? I seriously doubt that Mike Brown would approach Kobe with this suggestion.

But if the Lakers are going to contend for a 17th championship that’s exactly what Kobe is going to have to do.

He’s going to have to become a more efficient player. The days of jacking up 30 shots a game are gone.  He’s going to have to make due with 18-20 shots per game. He’s needs to pick his spots.

Kobe desperately wants to win that sixth championship ring and the window for him to do that is rapidly closing. His ego is going to have to take a back seat when he comes back. If he truly wants that sixth ring, he’s going to have to let the rest of the team win it for him. He will have to trust them to win it for him.

Right now this Lakers team is giving him every reason to trust them. Let’s just hope he does.