COMMENTARY | With yet another lackluster effort, it's time for the Los Angeles Lakers to do some soul-searching after falling to the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, 117-110.
It's like a broken record, and the same things that have doomed the Lakers en route to a 9-12 record cost them valuable momentum in a game that they should have won with relative ease.
The Lakers looked plenty good enough on offense, scoring 110 points, but it was their defense, specifically in transition, that cost them the game to a mediocre team. Along with allowing the Jazz to get easy buckets, the Lakers turned the ball over recklessly, 14 times to be exact, and gave 25 points off giveaways to the Jazz.
Utah shot an incredible 54.2 percent from the field and scored an 54 points in the paint to L.A.'s 34. That's unacceptable for a team that features Dwight Howard. The Jazz dominated the hustle stats, and beat the Lakers beat with easy baskets. Los Angeles is a team without an identity.
Who are these Lakers?
"We're not very good right now," D'Antoni told reporters after the game. "Somehow, we've got to play tougher. We're not doing the little things."
Those little things have cost them dearly of late. They've looked uninspired and lacked a sense of urgency. Against the Jazz, they showed mental lapses unbecoming of a veteran basketball team. They displayed bad decision-making that caused several of their turnovers.
Detractors will be quick to blame D'Antoni for the lack of defense as his teams have been historically lacking in that regard, but the Lakers are smart enough to know that they need to put the onus on themselves to make smarter decisions with the basketball and get back on defense when they make a mistake.
Things won't get any easier for the Lakers as they are set to begin a four-game road trip on Tuesday in Cleveland. They've been dismal on the road this season, and a turnaround away from home will be a tall order.
Maybe a gut-check will take place over the course of those games, but at this point, how could anyone expect it?
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He writes regularly for SB Nation and Examiner.com. He is also the Editor of Sports Out West.
You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.