The Lakers were missing Pau Gasol tonight, who sat out yet again with an upper respiratory infection. The Lakers were missing Kobe Bryant, out with a broken knee. The Lakers were without point guards Steve Blake and Steve Nash, both of which have been injured for weeks. The Lakers lost fifth string point guard Xavier Henry to a sprained knee midway through the third quarter. The Lakers were not, as we saw at the beginning of the year, the Lakers.
Despite all of those injuries, this was perhaps the worst loss of the entire season.
The Lakers fell tonight to the 76ers tonight 111-104 in just the 76ers second road win of the year. Philly came in to STAPLES Center tonight not having won a regulation game in two months, and just two games away from the Wells Fargo Center. They also had established themselves as one of the league's worst defensive and offensive teams, with some of the most nameless, faceless players in the NBA. Still, they looked like a playoff team tonight in LA.
Philadelphia shot just 41%, but that was more than enough to outplay a Lakers team that has not been able to establish any rhythm offensively with a recuperating Jordan Farmar. LA had 20 assists, which far outpaced any of their most recent performances, but wasn't enough to get themselves easy buckets. The Show shot 38% from the field and 32% from the three-point line, a lot of which is thanks to Nick Young who went 6 for 21 overall and 2 for 11 from the arc.
All in all, the Lakers didn't play absolutely horrible. The team was down double digits in the fourth quarter and managed to rally back to capture the lead within the five minute mark. Jordan Hill had a standout night replacing Pau Gasol in the starting lineup, notching a double-double with 18/13. Kendall Marshall got his first extended burn of the year, remarkably hitting 3 or 5 shots. But other than that, the Lakers were a mess. Jodie Meeks was 5 of 12. Wes Johnson didn't connect all night. Shawne Williams had a double-double, but went 3-8, including a wide open three-point miss that would have tied the game with under a minute left in the game. The team didn't execute offensively when they needed the shots the most and gave up wide-open looks when they needed stops.
Make no mistake--even without the missing All-Stars, the Lakers should have won this game. They were playing a genuinely terrible Sixers squad, who were especially awful on the road. LA didn't have any semblance of great talent on the floor, but certainly had a more experienced team that should have easily overwhelmed Philly who have won just twice in the past month.
I've written over and over, the Lakers need to win these games against the worst teams in the league, especially at home, if they have any chance of making the postseason. If there was any doubt LA was one of the most terrible squads in the NBA, tonight's game cemented it. This may be the beginning of the end, folks.
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