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The Lakers Are Calling It a Regular Season

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We can all stop scoreboard-watching. The Lakers aren't going to overtake the Cavaliers for the NBA's best record. They've decided that home-court advantage in the Finals isn't a prize worth exerting themselves for. If that wasn't obvious enough from last night's indolent defensive effort in Miami, the turd salad the Lakers served up tonight in Charlotte removes all doubt. The Lake Show got routed, 98 to 83.

The Bobcats are a top defensive team, and having to play them on the road and on the second night of a back-to-back meant points were going to be hard earned. Even so, this was just an absurd offensive performance from the Lakers, maybe their worst of the year. Their recent turnover problems became even more acute, as they coughed the rock up like a hairball on over a fifth of their possessions. When they did get a shot off, it was usually blocked or off-target by a foot and a half. For the season they average about 1.08 points per possession but tonight they couldn't even crawl past the 0.90 Mendoza Line.

It's hard to remember now, but tonight's game got off to a decent start for the Lakers. When Andrew Bynum, who was active and aggressive early, dropped in a layup with 5:43 left in the first, L.A. led 20 to 13. Two possessions later, Pau Gasol missed a dunk that began a sequence of three straight missed Laker shots and Charlotte fast breaks. That key stretch seemed to ruin the circuitry of the Laker offense. They stopped working the ball inside, passes became loopy and misdirected and shot selection completely collapsed.

The Bobcats, for their part, weren't very good in their half-court sets. They didn't have to be. The Lakers turned the ball over so often, 12 times in their first 40 possessions, that the Cats got most of the points they needed from runouts and secondary-break action. Kobe Bryant was OK in the first half - shooting 5 for 11 with three turnovers - but it wasn't nearly enough. The offensive attack had no thought or energy behind it. As a team the Lakers made no secret of their desire to be somewhere else, spending their Friday night doing absolutely anything else.

The third and fourth quarters didn't get much better. Charlotte began the third with a 10-0 run, and that was basically that. The Lakers never made a counterstrike. Pau got his shot blocked about 17 times. No one could make a three. (They've missed 32 of their 41 three-point attempts so far this trip.) Ron Artest shot 1 for 9 overall. Derek Fisher shot 1 for 5. Shannon Brown shot 2 for 9 and displayed terrible floor awareness, even by his standards. Jordan Farmar's the only Laker you could say played passably well, and even he got worked over by D.J. Augustin in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers are now 46-17, three full games plus a tiebreaker behind Cleveland. That race is over. Taking a glance at the rearview mirror, they're only three games ahead of Orlando. That's a reasonable cushion at this point of the season, but it gets a bit less reasonable if the Lakers lose to the Magic on Sunday. Anyone ready to bet against that happening?

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

L.A.

94

21

0.38

73

0.23

42

17

38

45

33

77

0.88

Cha.

94

21

0.39

74

0.17

52

50

56

60

23

67

1.04

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