After a 102-96 loss to the struggling Memphis Grizzles on Sunday night, there was a sense of confusion among the Lakers fanbase. The Lakers have been consistent at being inconsistent this season. However, with the much welcomed and needed acquisition of Ramon Sessions, the fans thought the Lakers would make an easy turn for the NBA Finals. Guess again.
What the fans and the media were mainly discussing after Sunday's loss, which marked the second consecutive Sunday loss at home, was how Mike Brown benched Kobe Bryant in the middle of the fourth quarter when the Lakers were within single digits of tying Memphis. Bryant was visibly frustrated with the no-calls from the referees, and Brown decided he needed to make a substitution.
Take what you want out of that story. The fact is the Lakers showed no effort, no sense of urgency and no consistency. The players and Brown are at fault for this. How much fault each side is responsible for is debatable as there has been an outrage of Bryant's shot selection this season, and there has been a call to fire Brown basically since he was hired last summer.
I understand that the team is playing under a completely different system than what the core players have been accustomed to for so long. I understand there was only a two-week training camp and the NBA is operating under a condensed schedule. However, it is the end of March and the postseason is just about a month away. Most importantly, the players are professionals.
It is extremely frustrating for the fans to witness their favorite team playing with no effort. Even though it's always difficult to lose, tough losses that occur under great competition are much easier to swallow. There are too many games where the Lakers seem to just be going through the motions. On Sunday night, there was no intensity or aggressiveness, and Memphis took complete advantage of it.
The Lakers have the players to get the job done night in and night out. This is why it is so frustrating for the fans to watch. Brown needs to determine set rotations and keep them consistent. When things start to work, Brown tweaks them a little and the team is back at square one.
Besides the Oklahoma City Thunder, the majority of teams in the West need a tune-up. The Lakers have used the "switch" countless times before, even though most of these occurrences have taken place during the postseason. With nine of the last 12 games against teams who are above .500, it is definitely time to flip that switch on. It is time for the Lakers to go to work.