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If Only… The Lakers Had Beat the 3rd Best Team of the NBA’s East

So, The Lakers lost tonight – not improving to a 12-12 mark, like The Atlanta Hawks, to start the game, who held their ground. They looked good, early. But that 3rd Quarter was a disaster! The Lakers could not defend the outside shot, and Kyle Korver & Company rained down 3s. Nick Young shot well from beyond the arc, for The Lakers – but the rest of the team was 0-13 and beyond… I lost interest in a potential comeback when Kobe Bryant lofted up a shot that never had a chance with 1:35 left and down 108-100, which then extended to a final of 114-100. Whatever.

If only The Lakers had not missed 4 free throws, the score with 2:30 left would’ve been 108-104; that’s anybody’s ball game, then, right? Or, what if The Lakers had not shot 0-13 from 3-point range but instead made 4 more 2-point FGs from taking better shots, off of more assists (missing a true PG, perhaps?), then the score would’ve been tied at 108-108 !Don’t you hate “If only…” comments? I am NOT a “What if…”-guy: I never was, and never will be. It’s not in my nature. But I’m beginning to wonder what the “team chemistry” of The Lakers has become over the course of the last few games.

What I really didn’t understand was the coaching decision tonight to play the rookie Ryan Kelly (?) instead of Pau Gasol during a 7-minute stretch of the pivotal 3rd Quarter. And why not play Jordan Hill more minutes? Rob Sacre wasn’t awful; but, the combination of players trying to play “team defense” just didn’t have it in them to get the job done. That was obvious, almost immediately. Yet, the prolonged absence of a better grouping of players persisted. Why?

This was another “winnable” road game that The Lakers didn’t need to lose! Because… team decisions are such that we are experimenting with the options available to trade players, possibly? Nothing else about this game made much sense. Unless, of course, it was a matter of limiting playing minutes tonight so that older players had fresher legs in tomorrow nights back-to-back game in Memphis before heading home to Los Angeles. What happened to the confidence that our team had in its group of young bench players who could come into games with fresh legs and amazing enthusiasm and passion to just play hard?

The Lakers began the game up 28-20 after the 1st Quarter. They gave up the lead mid-2nd, only to finish well to end the 1st Half. What they did during the 4th Quarter had more to do with the play of Nick Young and Xavier Henry than anything Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant provided. Just sayin’ – the truth hurts, and that’s that. I guess. If only Kobe Bryant was able to hit a random 3-pointer to close the gap to 108-103, what would it have mattered? The Hawks closed out the contest, strong. They came out of Halftime with a much better gameplan.

It’s just whining at this point, but that’s what fans do when their team loses. So, it’s not unexpected (I guess); but, wasn’t the return of Kobe Bryant occurring when he was certain he was able to come back and make a value-based contribution? Wouldn’t it have been nice if he had just moved easily into a team chemistry that had the league standing up and paying attention? If there was any flicker of hope left in this season, for The Lakers to come together, to gel as a unit, it needs to happen sooner than later. Doesn’t it? But I’m not sensing much in the way of “Good Vibrations” at the moment. Instead, they’re playing about as well as my fantasy football team did this year: The So Cal Beach Bums.

Nick Young was fantastic! Jordan Hill and Xavier Henry also threw together admirable performances. Gotta wonder who might join them tomorrow night with a better effort than what was left on the court in Atlanta. Ryan Kelly? He didn’t embarrass himself, but The Lakers as a “team” sure did. I get it, I really do: These aren’t The Beach Boys – they’re not just touring the country playing a bunch of feel good songs to crowds of people falling on every note they play. But they’re better than their record indicates – and, yet, injuries are part of the game, and every has to overcome them. I know. I know.

C’mon, Lakers! Find your focus.

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