COMMENTARY | Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni has been dropping all kinds of knowledge lately in his interactions with the media, calling out the team's poor play and lamenting their consistently sub-standard defense in candid fashion.
On Monday night after the Lakers laid an egg in the Bay Area and lost to the Golden State Warriors, 109-103, he did more of the same as he was asked about the Lakers' effort (via Time Warner Cable SportsNet).
"We're back to being a little slow, and we're paying for it," D'Antoni told reporters after the game. "I don't know if we have the speed sometimes to play hard. It looks like we're not, but if you run as fast as you can go, that's as fast as you can go."
That's everything in a nutshell -- the Lakers lack the team speed to keep up with the younger teams they'll have to contend with to make and compete in the Western Conference playoffs. The Lakers fell behind by as many 25 points and couldn't get stops when they absolutely had to have them late in the game. The Warriors are a team that likes to play an uptempo game and push the ball, something the Lakers struggle with mightily.
D'Antoni's comments highlight the largest issue with this year's Lakers squad. They don't have the personnel to get critical stops in games they absolutely need. Monday's game was for all intents and purposes a playoff game, and the Lakers couldn't muster enough to compete for four quarters.
Between the carousel of lineups due to countless injuries and lack of depth that accentuates their slowness, the Lakers will continue to struggle against the top teams in the West.
Scoring is not the issue with this this year's Lakers, nor has it ever been during the course of the 2012-13 season. Going into the game against Golden State, the Lakers ranked 6th in scoring offense with 102.1 points per game.
The real key is defense, and they can't get consistent stops for two reasons -- lack of athleticism and team chemistry. They're allowing a porous 101.1 points per game to opponents and have had to use a number of makeshift starting lineups throughout the year as all five starters have missed games. All of that manifests itself in frequent easy buckets for opponents through the transition game or points in the paint off of ball rotations that exploit their poor help defense.
That means the Lakers still don't know one another or communicate on the floor well enough, and that's a considerable issue heading into the stretch run. With time running out and things looking grim, it's time to see how much collective will they all have.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a Southern California-based sports journalist and editor. He contributes to SB Nation in addition to Yahoo! Sports and is the Managing Editor of Sports Out West.
Catch up with him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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