If you looked at the Lakers shooting as a team before tonight's game you might think something positive. After all, as a team they're shooting .551, which is fifth-best in the NBA.. That doesn't tell the whole story though, and the whole story reveals that the Lakers biggest need isn't a change of a head coach, it's a shot doctor.
If you take out the shooting of Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, the team is shooting a meager .431 including their latest blunder, a discouraging 95-86 loss at the hands of the Utah Jazz, in which they shot just 11-for-52 outside of the the aforementioned pair.
If they'd managed to even make a third of their shots, the Lakers would have won the game.
Perhaps the entire problem isn't just the Princeton offense. It doesn't matter if the shots are created if they aren't going in.
Dwight Howard isn't helping matters with his free-throw shooting either, dropping his percentage on the year to .500.
The Lakers dropped to 1-4 on the season, their lone win coming against the winless Detroit Pistons who are, by most power rankings, the worst team in the NBA. The last time they started off this poorly was the 1993-94 season, when they didn't make the playoffs.
Howard's not the only player whose not hitting his free throws either. Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill and Darius Morris are a combined .571 from the charity stripe.
From deep the team is also suffering. After a deplorable 4-of-23 night from behind the rainbow they are 23-for-75 on the season if you take out Bryant's red-hot three-point shooting. That's just .306.
There are serious shooting woes on this team and no matter what kind of offense you run, if you don't make your shots, you won't make points. It would be nice to cast all the woes at the feet of the offense, but the truth is that the Lakers are missing a lot of wide open shots.
After the game (via The Kansas City Star), Mike Brown said, "I can count on both hands and both feet how many wide open shots we had, especially from the three-point line, that you hope or think that normally goes in. It had us tighten up a little bit more."
But that's the problem. This year, "normally goes in" isn't going in. And the more they miss, the tighter they get. Time to bring in the shot doctor.
Ironically, this year it's Bryant that is masking the inefficiency of the team and until the Lakers get a shot doctor to come in and start fixing what we know is broken, it's hard to say whether the offense is working or not.
The team can come out and say that they don't need to panic all they want, but they seem less and less sincere about it. Furthermore while "panic" might not be needed, a little bit of concern would be reasonable.
No, Howard doesn't need to run around screaming the sky is falling, but it would be nice to see him more concerned about whether he's making his free throws than if he's getting his candy. Clearly that incentive isn't paying off in game.
The ship isn't sunk yet, but it's springing leaks and the time to fix the leaks is before the ship sinks. If you wait for the time to panic, it's too late. Right now the biggest leak the Lakers are springing is their shooting.