Playing The Blame Game With The Los Angeles Lakers

Here's one guy that doesn't deserve any blame.

When Everyone is Super ... no one will be.
Syndrome, Mr. Incredible

There are many, many reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers lost a contest that was very winnable last night against the Houston Rockets, many places to lay blame for another bad loss. The same rote process can be applied to every loss, to every negative result, because every game is the net result of many good and bad events. The problem with illustrating every single issue, or even with pointing out many of the issues, is illustrated by the above quote ... whenever you place blame at the feet of many different people, no one is forced to take the responsibility.

Take last night's loss for example.

  • You can blame Kobe Bryant. We've already devoted too many words to this subject. Moving on
  • Actually, not moving on, because not much has been said (in my analysis for the blog at least) about Kobe's lack of defensive intensity. The Rockets hit a bunch of threes to make their come back, and Kobe's lack of perimeter presence played a role there.
  • You can blame Andrew Bynum. His immaturity in getting ejected for chirping at the ref in a situation in which he was clearly in control of his emotions deserves your scorn. It's one thing to blow up and lose your head (for the record, that is still stupid and immature), but its another thing altogether to get kicked out because you just don't know the boundaries that should or shouldn't be crossed, especially when already on one T. That was a stupid, stupid mistake, and though the Lakers were able to increase their lead in the first moments Bynum was missing on the floor, his absence surely played a big role down the stretch as the Lakers were unable to get stops defensively or adequately rebound the ball, two things he's kind of vital at.
  • Blame Mike Brown. It's quite possible that he played as much or more of a role in the end game failures offensively as Kobe did, since there is just as much a precedent for the isolation heavy late game offensive sets in examples of Mike Brown's previous work as a head coach as there is in Kobe Bryant's previous work as an NBA superstar. If Brown was specifically asking for those plays, he deserves blame for that. If he wasn't calling anything he deserves blame for that. And if he wants something else to be done, and Kobe's overriding him on the court, he sure as hell deserves blame for that.
  • Also, Mike Brown was brought in because of his defensive expertise. After a strong start, the Lakers have fallen off significantly in recent weeks, and are currently ranked 10th in the league in defensive efficiency. Last year, the Lakers were sixth. This is the same thing as blaming the defense itself. The Rockets scored 34 points in the final quarter
  • Blame Mitch Kupchack, because I'd wager most of my "basketball expertise" on the fact that Lamar Odom being gone is a big reason for any defensive decline between last year and this year. LO was one of the best help defenders in the league the past few years, and we replaced his minutes with Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts. Speaking of which, McRoberts, who struggles defensively (did you see Scola back him down from 18 feet out for a LAYUP last night), can't rebound very well, and doesn't provide anything other than the occasional put back or sweet dish on offense, is far and away the worst signing of the off-season when you consider he's being paid more than three times what vet min players Jason Kapono and Troy Murphy were paid. Oh ... and Steve Blake.
  • Actually, blame Jim/Dr. Buss for the above paragraph because all of those personnel moves besides McRoberts (the signing of vet min players, the release of Odom for nothing but a TPE) is financially motivated. Mitch Kupchak is probably a god for dealing with the circumstances and landing Ramon Sessions for the Lakers' two worst players.
  • Blame Steve Blake. I can (sort of) forgive the bad shooting, the fact that he's only scored 2 points in 3 starts, and the fact that he's just not that good a defensive player. But no point guard with his kind of experience can be forgiven for the three incredibly soft, lazy, passes that Blake made which resulted in turnovers and uncontested layups. You could see Courtney Lee (who had at least two of those steals, maybe all three) travel the length of the half court to make each steal. A veteran point guard has to be better than that.
  • Blame Murphy, McRoberts, and Pau Gasol for being completely ineffective on the boards in the fourth quarter. The Rockets had 16 offensive rebounds on the night, but NINE of them came in the fourth quarter. Gasol is seven feet tall, played 36 minutes, and had four rebounds. That is really, really bad. But the man is averaging a double-double on the season, so this is just a really poor performance for him. McRoberts and Murphy, on the other hand, have been really poor on the glass all season.
  • Blame Mike Brown again for not playing Jordan Hill more than one minute, when Hill got two rebounds in that one minute.
  • Blame the FO again for putting Mike Brown in the position of needing minutes from Hill after acquiring him only a few days ago.
  • Blame Bynum again for making me write the last three paragraphs
  • Please, for God's sake, BLAME THE HOUSTON ROCKETS for playing one hell of a game. Whether it was staying within striking distance in a first quarter in which the Lakers looked unstoppable, out-working the Lakers to get the game back to even keel, or nailing clutch threes in the fourth quarter, Houston deserves some credit for taking it to the Lakers and earning their victory.

The list goes on and on. You can never single out one reason as "THE" reason why a game was lost, a single person who should get "THE" blame. To do so is to take a myopic view of the game of basketball that does a disservice to the overall understanding of how results come to be. Still, if everyone is to blame, its the same as saying no one is, so taking the time to discount analysis about why so and so is to blame because it doesn't take those other factors into account is hyperopic, which is every bit as much a disservice to analysis as its more well known partner.

So blame Kobe. Or blame Drew. Or blame Coach. But recognize that just because other folks might lay blame elsewhere does not mean that they don't also see the blame that you see. If you don't realize there are an infinite number of ways to assign blame, you don't understand the complex nature of existence. If you don't realize the need to focus the blame on the key contributors, you're just wasting your time.

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