The loss to the Miami Heat Thursday night was not just a loss. It was embarrassing.
Fisher has lost most of his edge when it comes to battling the more athletic, better point guards in the league. But, he can still knock down those buzzer-beating, one-hitter quitters as the game comes to a close.
Kobe Bryant. Well, hell, he is still Kobe Bryant. There is nothing a defense can do to completely count him out.
However, against the Miami Heat, without Bryant’s illustrious scoring in the first three quarters, the Lakers offense was bland and practically nonexistent. Both teams were a little blank early on, but while Miami caught fire and established a quick lead, the Lakers were unresponsive.
This is more than likely due to the new head coach’s offensive scheme and plain way of running things. But, what can we truly expect from the Lakers with the roster they have assembled thus far? There is no explosiveness and no excitement that is not capped off with mentions of Kobe and his firepower from every angle on the floor.
Therefore providing the sad and elementary reasoning that without Kobe’s 40-point clinics, the Lakers are a shell of the dynasty they used to be.
But, isn’t this what Lakers fans wanted? After years of boosting Kobe’s resume by naming the fact that he has always been the primary option for the Lakers, Jerry Buss’ son, Jim Buss, has finally made it so.
Bryant is not only the primary option anymore, but he is sometimes their sole mean of a victorious end. Bryant’s averages may boast an MVP entrance for the season, but watching the Lakers as a unit is becoming more boring than watching paint dry.
He is going to get his regardless, but when will players like Barnes start going up for the dunk finish around the rim when LeBron James is chasing him down instead of the weak layup? When will ex-Michigan player Darius Morris stop making those clumsy mistakes? When will Josh McRoberts’ contributions extend past flagrantly fouling a sometimes-spotty free-throw shooter?
Unfortunately, Kobe can only contend with what he has in front of him, and right now that is not much. Despite Andrew Bynum’s size and effectiveness in the low post, he and Bryant are the only sure things in a purple-and-gold jersey right now. They are not enough.
Pau Gasol? His mind has not been right dating back to shortly before last year’s playoffs and somehow, his lack of vision and focus has trailed into this season—not assisting in an already-shaky situation.
Tempers are going to flare as they always do within a unit that just cannot figure out their identity that had already before been produced and succeeded. The triangle offense did not always work, but it provided championships.
The Lakers are dawning upon an era in which their path has not already been cleared. Their history has not predetermined their status in the league and from what fans can see, a huge problem in how the Lakers have been playing is that they are barely adjusting to the game plan of the new coach in charge, Mike Brown.
But, what can they do?
After voicing his stance on the new direction of the Lakers with the proposed trade of Lamar Odom and Gasol (who should have probably demanded a trade out of Lakerville as well), the reigning Buss will not go back on his decision as if he had done something wrong in the first place. A move as big as deciding the replacement for Phil Jackson after so many years of excellence should not have been taken so lightly.
Bringing in Brown, a coach that is so fundamentally different than Jackson, spoke volumes about the storming in of a new era within the franchise. And even though the world knew that the decision would either go incredibly wrong or incredibly right, no one within the organization seems ready to give up on the pipe dream that this is the path that should have been taken.
Look at how the team is treating the removal of—or lack thereof—big man on the rise, Andrew Bynum. His potential has yet to be reached, although he is still a very good player. The Lakers refuse to admit that this just may not be the space for him to be in or at least they do not have the roster available to him now for him to properly contribute to the team’s success.
Expect them to fester in their troubles until it becomes too unbearable to stand because just as their leader, Kobe, they refuse to admit when the time is up for something that was supposed to work.
Bryant was supposed to shut LeBron James down, yet they had Barnes guarding him on more than one occasion. The Lakers were supposed to get Chris Paul in a trade that included Lamar Odom, yet it fell through and the organization had to go through by tossing Odom over to the Dallas Mavericks. Derek Fisher is supposed to be one of the best point guards in the league, and even with declining performance remains in the Lakers’ starting lineup.
Their loyalty is what has kept Kobe around, but it is also what will force him into retirement without another ring. As embarrassing as the journey may get, don’t expect them to admit they were wrong.
That is the Kobe system.
Follow Joye Pruitt on Twitter @joyethewar