Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Nash, Gasol won't cure what ails Lakers
Injured stars won't turn L.A. into contenders
LOS ANGELES -- If you believe the return of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol is going to make everything all right for the Los Angeles Lakers, here's some bad news:
There's too much wrong for even Nash, as gifted as he is, to fix what ails the Lakers. And there's certainly too much out of kilter for them to rest their hopes on the return of Gasol, who has been memorable so far this season only for his struggles at both ends of the floor while battling tendinitis in his knees.
Even coach Mike D'Antoni acknowledged the Lakers can't count on Nash and Gasol to save them -- and that was before the team's too-often-passive 117-110 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday in a home game jammed between a 1-2 trip and four more games back East.
"Oh, no, it won't cure everything. But it will help," D'Antoni said of Nash's return, which might occur sometime during the trip to Cleveland, New York, Washington and Philadelphia.
"But at that point, if that doesn't cure some stuff, then we need to have some heart-to-hearts and we need to understand what's going on because if he can't run it, then we've got some problems."
But Nash surely won't be a force in improving the transition defence played by the Lakers, who fell to 9-12 Sunday after showing little energy or effort from feeble start to out-of-gas finish. The Jazz had 19 fast-break points to only four by the Lakers. Utah scored 54 points in the paint, 20 more than the Lakers. That shouldn't happen.
"I love Steve to death but I don't know," D'Antoni said. "Raja Bell said he was first-team all-defence because he guarded his man and Steve's."
At least D'Antoni hasn't lost his sense of humour despite losing seven times in 11 games since he took over from Bernie Bickerstaff, whose brief tenure now seems like the good old days.
The Lakers are eight games behind Western Conference co-leaders Oklahoma City and San Antonio. They will have to make a concerted run just to get home-court advantage in the playoffs, and it's difficult to imagine how they will do that after another casual defensive performance that had nothing to do with missing two starters and everything to do with a lack of fire.
"We're not very good right now," D'Antoni said glumly afterward, mastering the obvious.
The offence was fine on Sunday. Dwight Howard was effectively double-teamed and took only 10 shots, but a rare boost from the bench in the form of 17 points from Jordan Hill and 16 from Jodie Meeks helped compensate. Kobe Bryant had only 10 points at the half but finished with 34 in 43 minutes.
It's not that they didn't battle back. They did, getting within three points early in the fourth quarter and five with 1:10 left. It's that they continually put themselves in holes too deep to escape.
"Everybody wants to focus on the offensive end of the floor, but we know that defence and rebounding wins championships around here, and that's what we've really got to concentrate on," Bryant said.
With no time to waste. "We've got to get things rolling," Meeks said. "It's not panic time but it's time for a sense of urgency. Everybody knows that. We're getting to some very important basketball and we've just got to try to find a way to win."
Howard said it's a matter of players helping one another on defence. "We'll learn how to do it," he said. "We're too good of a team to let everything slip away."
Guard Chris Duhon said the problem isn't strategy but lack of effort and execution. He has said that before, but his words sounded hollow Sunday after another loss because nothing has seemed to change.
It's one thing to know what's wrong and another to fix it. The shame is that the Lakers can't seem to muster the collective energy to find ways to stop all their defensive leaks.
"It's baffling," Duhon said. "Until we do it we're going to continue losing. Until we come out and play hard and go after teams and not expect teams to let down just because of who we are, things are not going to change."
And they won't automatically change when Nash and Gasol return.
-- Los Angeles Times
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2012 C14
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 50 articles for this week)12:28 PM 0
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Charles Barkley is coming to Times Square to tip off the NBA season.
Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille ...
Photo Store Gallery
- Mo Williams scores 19 points, Timberwolves beat Thunder 112-94
- Kobe Bryant scores 26 points, Lakers use big 3rd-quarter surge to rally past Jazz 98-91
- Sullinger has 21 points and 19 rebounds, Celtics top Nets 95-90 in experimental 44-minute game
- Kirk Hinrich scores 26 points, Bulls beat Hornets 101-96 in exhibition game
- Sacramento Kings pick up 2015-16 option on guard Ben McLemore
- DeMarcus Cousins has 15 points and 12 rebounds, Kings beat Israel's Maccabi Haifa 91-59
- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich hits Suns owner Robert Sarver with 'chicken suit' jab
- Bulls guard Butler sprains left thumb, leaves preseason game against Hornets
- The NBA's new glamour position: Assistant coach, suddenly in demand
- Shabazz Napier scores 25 points, Heat beat Spurs 111-108 in overtime
- The NBA's new glamour position: Assistant coach, suddenly in demand
- Younger brother of Philadelphia rookie centre Joel Embiid dies in Africa
- McAdoo scores 20, Barnes hit big shot in Iowa return and Warriors rally past Nuggets 104-101
- FIBA says no positive doping tests at basketball World Cup and other major events
- Davis has 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, Pelicans beat Rockets 117-98
- NBA to test 44-minute game, 4 minutes shorter than standard, in Nets-Celtics preseason contest
- Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash injures his back carrying bags, coach Byron Scott says
- LeBron James scores 26 as Cavaliers beat Pacers 98-93, spoiling David West's returns to Xavier
- The Process: Heat winless in 4 preseason games, and time's running out to make things click
- Butler scores 21 and McDermott adds 16 as Bulls rout Nuggets 110-90
- Police sent to ex-Clippers owner Sterling's home by wife, find him with woman from recordings
- New Bucks coach Jason Kidd can draw an underdog experience in rebuilding Milwaukee
- Police: Ex-NBA player Rex Chapman accused of shoplifting $14K in items from a Scottsdale store
- Qatar women withdraw from Asian Games basketball tournament in protest over hijab ban
- Coach Blatt gets emotional win as James scores 12, Cavaliers rout Maccabi Tel Aviv 107-80
- Conversion to Judaism sparks unlikely journey to Israel for standout college basketball player
- Raptors seven-foot centre Valanciunas studied running with Oregon sprint guru
- Isiah Thomas scores 18 as Suns beat Brazilian team Flamengo 100-88 in exhibition
- Wall scores 14 as Washington Wizards beat New Orleans Pelicans 94-89 in preseason
- Al Horford takes another step in recovery, says this is Hawks' deepest roster in his 8 years
Ads by Google