USA TODAY Sports
After a promising and energetic 1st quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers proved this season is no fluke, and were outworked and destroyed by the Grizzlies.
Things started well. After a clear-the-air team meeting in which guys got in each other's faces and words that needed to be said were said, the Lakers played for 12 minutes like it might mean something. Like they wanted to be there, to fight, for each other. Dwight Howard was all over the court, the Lakers played with great defensive energy, and they held Memphis scoreless for the first 3 minutes of the contest. Some untimely turnovers had them trailing by one by quarter's end, but there was reason to believe that the narrative we've been told for 12 hours wasn't just lip service, that the Lakers really were going to flip the switch on the season.
Twelve minutes. That's all they could muster. In the second quarter, Memphis started to out energy the Lakers in the same way that every team in the league has done, and after they built a ten point lead, Dwight Howard "re-injured" his shoulder. He would not return, not that his return would have made a difference. Maybe Dwight really did re-injure his shoulder at just the time where that extra bit of push would be necessary to re-capture the possibility of hope. That would be par for the course this season, in which the Lakers' bad luck has been surpassed only by the Lakers' poor attitude. But the timing of it all was just too suspicious. It wreaked of "Well, we tried."
Well, they tried. And got beat to death by a team way more athletic than they were. Steve Nash was terrible, bullied into 6 TOs and seven points on six shots. Kobe started off hot, but cooled off significantly as the Grizzlies threw wave after wave of defender at him. And everybody else was what they are, a bunch of old and/or limited players who don't know how to play together, and somehow manage to be less than the sum of their parts despite how shitty the individual parts are.
This season's done, folks. We, and by we I mean everybody, were wrong about this team. Even if things had gone right, even if the Lakers didn't have to deal with injuries and bad luck and turmoil and the man-child that is Dwight Howard, even then, the Lakers age and lack of speed and athleticism would likely have been dooming. Sure, the Lakers would probably be in the middle of the playoff hunt, but it's hard to watch these games and believe the team would ever have contended for a championship. In some weird way, the total abomination they have become is probably better in the long term. Now, the Lakers will go into the off season with their eyes open to the possibility that perhaps this idea is not worth fighting for.
I want better for Kobe. I want better for Nash. Hell, I even want better for Pau Gasol. But this team has cancer, and the only way to get rid of cancer is to kill it, the healthy tissue surrounding it be damned. Somebody get the surgeon, and for the love of God, make the procedure quick.