When the Lakers assembled what apppeared to be a 'superteam' in the offseason, no one envisioned that the start would be this rocky. At 15-16, the same isssues that existed during the team's 1-4 start are still ever-present. Defense and team speed are severely lacking, and there's virtually nothing they can do about it.
Steve Nash was supposed to be the savior and help the offense, but it's unfair to ask his 38-year-old legs to keep up with the Russell Westbrooks and Chris Pauls of the world on the other end.
On Tuesday, it was Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday's turn to have a field day, and that's exactly what he did in scoring 26 points and adding 10 assists. Statistics alone don't tell the whole story. He got his numbers the easy way, by blowing past the perimeter defense and watching the Lakers' bigs struggle to help. Dwight Howard had five blocks, but he can't change the game on defense with his ailing back still giving him problems the way he used to.
That's because at 27 years of age, he feels old, and the rest of his teammates are old. Kobe Bryant didn't shy away from that fact.
"You just saw an old team," Bryant told reporters after the game. "I don't know how else to put it. We're just slow, and they're a team with younger, fresher legs and played with more energy."
Bryant knows what fans have seen hold true through 31 games -- the Lakers will struggle to compete if they can't find a way to outsmart teams. They won't outrun them for obvious reasons, and they have to execute almost flawlessly in order to have any shot at postseason success.
Lack of execution has been their Achilles' heel, and it's what the return of Nash has helped correct to an extent. But no offense can overcome 19 missed 3-pointers like the Lakers had on Tuesday. Mike D'Antoni's system relies heavily on the 3-point shot, and when it's not falling, the losses will be ugly, even worse if the defense can't get stops.
The game against the Sixers was especially troubling given the fact that Philadelphia is 25th out of 30 teams in points per game (93.5). The Lakers' defensive inefficiencies made them look prolific.
This is not a smoke and mirrors scenario -- it's who the Lakers are, and until they do the things that veteran teams do well, namely communicate, rotate correctly and take good shots, they'll continue to look like a sub-.500 team.
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