The Los Angeles Lakers are 0-3 to start the season, and the Los Angeles Clippers are now 2-0. Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol still haven't found a win. They still haven't cast away the clouds that have been hanging over the team. And it's frustrating. It's worrisome. It's hard to swallow. But, it's reality. In the present. The here and the now. And in Lakerland, that's all that matters. Even to the most optimistic of fans.
There was never a moment as the Lakers took on the Los Angeles Clippers that it felt right for the Lakers. It was a five point string differential through the majority of the game as the Lakers tried with all their might to close the gap. Steve Blake left it all out on the court, assigned to defending the best point guard in the league, and did a hell of a job in doing so. He wasn't perfect, he wasn't out there rolling through the Clippers, but his effort was enough should've been enough for his teammates to take advantage of.
But it wasn't.
Maybe it was the moment that the Clippers hit a buzzer beater just as halftime rang in that it should have been clear it wasn't going to be a purple and gold night. Maybe even further back, when Steve Nash was waved off from playing after suffering his leg contusion against the Portland Trail Blazers we should have noticed the writing on the wall. Contusions generally aren't overly problematic, but in the shin? Yeah, that's a bad spot, and Nash acknowledged it when speaking with Chris Broussard while the game was rolling along. Perhaps Lamar Odom's nearly half court prayer with the shot clock going off should have made it clear that the cards were just not in favor of the Lakers. Maybe all the karma had gone dry after the off-season and the empty well was cackling from afar. Or, even something simple, like Metta World Peace getting his shoes blown off by Jamal Crawford early on in a move that was just devastating. The signs were there, from front to back, but it's still a loss. And there is no soothing of the pain.
Kobe Bryant just dropped 40 points on 14-23 shooting and there wasn't a second where it felt like the Lakers were in control. Blake Griffin "only" had 15 points and 8 rebounds, yet the Lakers were never in the driver's seat. Perhaps it's the fact that no other Laker was able to establish a rhythm. The second highest point tally for the Lakers? Dwight Howard's forgettable 13 points (4-7 from the field, 5-10 from the line). Even worse, the second highest field goal attempt numbers came from Metta World Peace with 10, who on this night was at BEST the fourth option for Mike Brown's Lakers.
Why isn't Dwight Howard getting more touches? Sure, he had foul trouble, early on, but he still played 30 minutes. Heck, he had RYAN HOLLINS defending him in stretches and the Lakers seemed to refuse to dump it down to the best center in the league. Even if he's far from being 100%, he's still dominant and skilled enough to work his way through the post and get easy points for the Lakers. Let him draw fouls, at the very least. Where was Jodie Meeks, the three point specialist and competent perimeter defender at? Already in Mike Brown's dog house three games into the season? Those 20 turnovers? Can't win coughing it up 20 times against the Clippers, who absolutely will fly up the court and make quick work of a floundering offense.
There are plenty of issues with the Los Angeles Lakers. We can discuss the X's and O's till we're blue in the face. We can look at advanced stats, and synergy, and compare it to history all we want. We can discuss whether it's better to use the Princeton or just run pick and rolls till the rim tears off the backboard. The fact of the matter is this: the Lakers are 0-3. The fans aren't happy. The players aren't happy. It's been an exhausting process for everyone, with plenty of negative energy retained from a preseason that was also fruitless. The wounds are fresh, painful, and now we anxiously await for something to ease it all.
Something, anything. A sign that this is in fact the right path to take, with the right person holding the torch in the 82 game trek. Talk is cheap.