The Lakers lost their second straight game to open the season, this time 116-106 to the Portland TrailBlazers Wednesday night.
Dwight Howard looked like the star we’ve known him to be, scoring 33 points on 9-15 shooting (and hitting 15-19 from the foul line) and grabbing 14 rebounds. Kobe Bryant even added 30 points on 50% shooting and it still looked like the Lakers were dominated all night. Steve Nash left the game in the 3rd quarter with a bruised shin, but his impact was minimal to that point, anyway.
What’s wrong with the Lakers? Is it Offense? Defense? Coaching? Chemistry?
Offensively, the Lakers have no identity yet. Nothing that they can rely on until the offense works out the early kinks. Nash has probably never played off the ball this much in his career, and his totals of 9 points and 8 assists in 2 games speak volumes to that. The early word was that the Lakers would become a dangerous pick and roll team with Nash and Howard, but we haven’t seen much of that yet. We know what Bryant, Gasol, Howard and Nash can bring offensively, but there hasn’t been any glimmer of hope that they can all work together. Putting the ball in Nash’s hands more, and letting him direct the offense would be most beneficial to the success of the team, even if he isn’t running and gunning like we know him to.
Defensively is where the Lakers may be struggling the most. The NBA has become predicated on help defense in recent years, which is why the addition of Howard made sense. But the defensive capabilities of Nash and the other point guards for the Lakers have greatly exaggerated. Those defensive liabilities shown by the guards lead to foul trouble for Howard and destroy the effectiveness for the Lakers defensive schemes. This too should change with more time together, but the early samples have been less than flattering.
Is the confusion and disarray a result of coaching? It could very well be. When Mike Brown was the coach at Cleveland, his offenses were average at best, he just so happened to be coaching LeBron James, which bailed him out on many occasions. He was always a defensive minded coach, but always seemed to be missing something to get his teams over the edge. The Princeton offense is not a bad offense to run, but it limits one of their best offensive weapons.
Is it time to panic in Los Angeles? Absolutely not. But it may be time to rethink some things already.