COMMENTARY | By now, it's no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles lie almost entirely on the defensive end of the floor. Understandably so, head coach Mike D'Antoni is taking much of the blame for L.A.'s embarrassingly bad defense given the fact that his teams have usually struggled in that regard.
We know, there's no 'D' with this guy, and he should be called "Antoni". That joke is already as uninspired and as the Lakers' play this year.
The 2012-13 Lakers, though, have taken the concept of defense and dragged it through the proverbial mud while allowing 98.8 points per game. And they've done that all on their own. Beyond the stat sheet, they've looked completely lost in the process and even worse, have lacked effort.
D'Antoni may have had historically difficult times on the defensive end, but ousted coach Mike Brown didn't fare much better.
In fact, Brown didn't fare better at all -- the Lakers gave up the exact same average number of points through the Lakers' first five games. Coaching the defense was supposed to be what Brown was good at. The bottom line is that the Lakers' issues go far beyond coaching.
Old and slow
It's not a secret that the Lakers have one of the oldest teams in the league. Even Kobe Bryant has voiced his concerns regarding their advanced age on numerous occasions.
The Lakers are getting beat consistently in transition because they are effectively old and slow. The Russell Westbrooks of the world are un-guardable for any one player in the entire league, let alone on the Lakers' aging roster. This is a personnel issue that can't be fixed by coaching.
Being slow is hurting this team not just in transition, but in the half-court sets as well.
For example, in the pick-and-roll the rotations have been slow. With defensive stopper Dwight Howard on the floor, he often goes to help defend the ballhandler in the paint after the pick initiates dribble penetration while the help man has consistently failed to protect the inside and follow Howard's man, leaving the paint open with no intimidator to change shots. Teams are getting far too many easy buckets in this manner and continue to exploit this weakness. They'll continue to do it until L.A. finds answers.
The Lakers have turned the ball over 362 times, ranking them No. 29 in the NBA in protecting the basketball. Turnovers do a lot of things that are detrimental to winning games, but one of the most glaring problems is that they open up the floor for potential fast breaks.
D'Antoni isn't making the decisions on the floor, and that's where fixing the turnovers issue starts. The Lakers need to look at themselves first, not to the sidelines.
Additionally, four of the most dangerous words in Laker-land are "when Nash gets back." He can't save this team by himself. But realistically, Steve Nash is the one man on the planet that can run the offense to perfection without hesitation and give the team a sense of what it will look like at full strength and potentially help to limit those silly turnovers that come from players being out of position.
Unfortunately, none of this will completely fix the Lakers, as they are a broken team at 9-13. But it's reason enough for L.A.'s impatient fan base to lay off D'Antoni.
At least for now.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He contributes regularly to SB Nation and Examiner.com. He is also the Editor of Sports Out West.
Follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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