Los Angeles' Lack of Defense Is Not a Sign of Things to Come

Walter SimonsenCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2009

The first quarter was bad.

The second quarter was really bad.

And although the Lakers seemed to turn the defense on when the second half began, it was too little too late.

The Suns are a team that has gone through a rejuvenation of sorts.  With their new head coach in place, the run-and-gun style is back—something this team has desperately tried to get back to since the front office fired D'Antoni.  

However, as the Lakers proved in a game against Phoenix a short while ago, good defense can stifle any offensive-based team. 

Today in Phoenix, however, it was a different story. The Lakers looked a little shell-shocked in the beginning.

Perhaps it was the way they lost to the Nuggets on the tail end of back-to-back games. Perhaps it was the difference in altitude between Denver and Phoenix. Or perhaps it was just the fact that Shaq seemed unstoppable at times.

Whatever the reason, the Lakers were not having a great day.  It wasn't a 29 percent shooting day, but it was still a bad day.

From the start of the Lakers' training camp, we've heard talk about how defense is the team's main game plan. Not surprisingly, we've seen significant stretches where defense seems to be the only thing this team cares about.  

Sometimes, however, we don't see the D, and this can be worrisome to the Laker nation.

However, I am here to calm the Laker faithful and attempt to silence the critics who will look at these two games and say, "Well it's going to be lucky if the Lakers even make the playoffs."

Because let's be honest with ourselves: The media, and even many of us here on B/R like to jump to crazy conclusions.

We freak out when the Lakers lose two in a row, and when the Celtics lose three in a row. We call Pete Carroll a bad coach when his team loses a game. We think Tiger's lost it when he loses in the second round of match play.

Don't worry though, today's lack of defense is not a sign of things to come.  We have seen this team turn it on time and time again.  

Look at the Grammy road trip, as that was possibly the greatest road trip in the history of basketball. It was a road trip built on some very impressive defensive stands.  

Also, do not forget that Andrew Bynum will be back for the playoffs, and even if he is not at the top of his game, he will be a presence with his size in the middle.

Furthermore, I'd like to add that this was very much an off-game for Lamar Odom (fouling out early in the 4th quarter will do that to you). Remember, however, that Lamar hasn't had a game like this since Andrew went down. Consequently, no one should expect that to become a common occurrence.

There is no need to worry or jump to conclusions. This Lakers team will rebound from these two losses on Tuesday night at home (the downtown hoop dojo as Vick the Brick puts it).  

They are still, in my humble and yet biased opnion, the best team in the NBA.

Special Note: On the plus side of today, the Lakers shot 95 percent from the free throw line. Kobe Bryant had 49 points and Pau Gasol had 30. Sasha Vujacic was a +4 in the +/- category.