When Steve Nash signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 11th of last year, Kobe Bryant finally received the true point guard he needed. After Dwight Howard signed in early August, the Lakers had a roster that seemed to guarantee a Finals appearance. They would once again run the NBA. Today, the Clippers have taken over Los Angeles, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the title as the best team in the NBA, and the Los Angeles Lakers have fallen to a 17-24 record.
Metta World Peace believed this Laker team had a serious opportunity to finish with a 73-9 record, never done before in the NBA. However, that dream was shattered on December 4 against the Houston Rockets, their tenth loss of the season. Kobe Bryant even said, “Obviously this isn’t working.” The situation has left many fans of the game scratching their heads, with such a high caliber team, why are the Lakers losing?
The team is fifth overall in the NBA in points per game, scoring an average of 102.6. They are third in rebounds per game with 45.6. However, the Lakers turn the ball over an average of 15.4 times per game. A more notable aspect of the game that the Lakers seem to be struggling with is free throws. The team shoots an average of 69.4 percent from the line, which is second worst in the NBA. There have been many instances this season in which missed free throws have cost the Lakers a shot at victory late in games.
Given the offensive struggles, you couldn’t think it could get much worse. Then you look at the team’s defense. They are giving up 101.4 points per game, and sport a 1.4 assist to turnover ratio. With so much size down low, and debatably the fastest backcourt in the division, one still wonders, why aren’t they getting it done?
After 41 games, the answer is simple: the Lakers are not motivated to win. Their lack of effort on both sides of the ball have cost them numerous games this season. Those games could come back to haunt the Lakers as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.