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Lakers zoned out against Miami Heat

We're ready for that focus to kick in any time, guys.  Really, Lakers, whenever you feel like flipping that focus switch, we'll be ready.

I guess the team will have to get around to that some other night, as tonight's display was just a chip off the old, lazy, block.  There are so many places to look for reasons the Lakers lost tonight's game to the Miami Heat, by the final count of 111-114, and just about every one of them is directly related to another blase game from the purple and gold. 

I'm actually going to start with the positives, just so that I can get them out of the way quickly.  Kobe played great, promptly responding to my post on his poor shooting by going 15-28 en route to 39 points.  He looked almost as determined to win the game as his teammates looked determined to conserve their energy for tonight's visit to the South Beach party scene.  LO continued his strong play as well, with a tidy 13 and 11, on 8 shots.  Ron Artest played good defense, though  he had one of his worst nights this year on the other end of the court.  Derek Fisher shot the ball well, despite having his typically horrible shot selection.  Good, glad we got that done with, now on to the numerous negatives from tonight's game.  Where do we start?

How about at the free throw line?  The Lakers and Heat shot 25 free throws a piece.  Miami hit a very respectable 84%, good for 21 points.  The Lakers shot a despicable 60% for 15 points.  Now, I'm no math major but I think if you add 6 to 111, it's higher than 114, so that's your ball game.  Since Shaq is no longer donning a Laker uniform, there's no one guy to pin it on, as the whole team did their part to ensure a poor showing from the charity stripe.  Special props to Ron Artest for missing both free throws with a couple minutes to play, though.

And how about that league leading defense?  On a night when Dwyane Wade wasn't exactly at his best, the Lakers decided that defense outside of 15 feet wasn't a requirement.  The Heat shot 52.5% from the game, and it wasn't because they were being aggressive and taking the ball to the rim.  A majority of their attempts came from the outside.  Sure, it was a little bit fluky that Quentin Richardson went 7-11 from downtown (setting a season high with 25 pts), but that kind of thing is going to happen to you every now and then, which is why it's important not to let Carlos Arroyo go 6-7, or Udonis Haslem go 5-8, seemingly without even setting foot in the paint.

My favorite part of the Lakers defense tonight?  That would be overtime.  You know, the time when the Lakers are supposed to turn things on, to flip that switch and show how dominant they are?  The Heat had 9 possessions in overtime.  Wade turned the ball over on an Artest steal on the first possession.  Thus ended the Lakers OT defense.  The next 8 possessions all resulted in points for the Heat, allowing them to post a ridiculous 1.6 PPP in OT, so that the Lakers never had a chance even with Kobe going into "I'm not missing an effing shot" mode.

Ah, but the Lakers offense was pretty good tonight, right?  Kobe was certainly amazing (something we've been missing the past few games), but it wasn't enough, because our starting bigs are just playing bad, bad basketball right now.  20 shots between then, and considering the way they played, I would have been fine if that number went down, not up.  Gasol continues to struggle from the field, and it seems like Bynum is averaging 5 TOs a game in recent weeks.  Fine, our bigs are soft.  Fine, they're tired, or lacking confidence, or whatever.  But what the hell happened to these guys' hands?  Bynum used to have hands of velcro.  You could hit him with the ball on the tip of his pinky, and his hands would gobble that shit up like a vacuum cleaner.  Now, I'm considering suggesting the Lakers put him under quarantine so the rest of the team doesn't catch his Kwame-itus.  Gasol is supposed to be the most efficient option on the floor.  But with only 52% shooting, he's having by far the worst shooting year of his time with the Lakers, and Jordan freaking Farmar has a higher eFG than he does.  Phil Jackson was doling out end of game minutes to those two like it was a choice between chopping off a foot or tying an arm behind his back.  Jermaine O'neal and Udonis Haslem are not supposed to play our starters to a draw in the middle.

And then there was the little situation that caused my oh-so-clever title.  In the 3rd quarter, the Heat decided it'd be fun to see how the Lakers responded to a little zone defense.  The Lakers responded by falling asleep.  There were quite a few possessions when the ball never made it past the perimeter, and I counted at least twice when the ball didn't even make it past the top of the key.  The Heat outscored LA 30-21 in that quarter, by the way.

As you can probably tell, I'm pissed off about this game.  Not because the Lakers lost a close, winnable game against a mediocre team.  Not even because they played poorly, or wasted Kobe's return to early season vintage.  I'm mad because there are still 20 games left in this regular season, 20 games that I have to watch, and there will probably be at least 5 more of these games left in them.  The Lakers don't always lose when they play this way, but we fans lose every time.











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