COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Lakers usually have a difficult time winning in Utah, but in Wednesday night's 95-86 loss to the Utah Jazz, they played especially poorly, failing in aspects that have little to do with personnel or talent.
The Lakers lost because of a lack of effort, and that's a major concern for everyone involved.
Before we lay into the Lakers, it's important to consider that Salt Lake City sits at elevation, roughly 4,300 feet to be exact, and that alone can contribute to the fatigue factor of all visiting teams.
But enough making excuses.
When it comes to the passion, drive and hunger that go with a championship-caliber team, the Lakers are severely lacking. They're not playing hard, and it's making a defensive-minded head coach like Mike Brown look like he doesn't have commitment from his team.
The hustle stats from the game tell the story. The Jazz outscored the Lakers 15-7 in fast break points, and though they are smaller, they dominated the paint by a margin of 44-36 points inside. The Lakers looked every bit their age in the game, and were often late getting back in transition. They were slow in their defensive rotations and allowed the Jazz guards to light them up from the outside.
Randy Foye came off the bench and played 29 minutes to light up the Lakers defense from the outside, going 5 for 9 from the 3-point line. He finished with an efficient 17 points and regularly killed the momentum the Lakers built up as they attempted to come back throughout the contest as they trailed for the entire game.
Again, these issues are fixable, but where's the fix coming from? At this point, the Lakers don't know the answer to that burning question as they struggle to gain the form of a team that can succeed in the postseason.
For now, the loss vs. the Jazz is just another bad omen in a season marred by inconsistency. What's worse is that the fire and drive to compete has been absent from the start.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a Southern California-based sports journalist, editor, and blogger. You can read him on SB Nation and Examiner. He is also the Editor and Founder of Sports Out West.You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets