Los Angeles Lakers: With a Foul To Give...You Have To Give It!

Walter SimonsenCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2009

I have often been quite optimistic about the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances this season, and no need to worry—that hasn't changed.

I still have the Lakers finishing with the best record in the NBA. They are still going to find their way to the Finals, and they are still going to raise the trophy when the season comes to an end.

But, last night was an unfortunate bump in the road. With the Western Conference-leading Lakers at home, in the driver seat playing against a low seed playoff team with an interim coach. The Lakers should have had no problem closing out.

However, the Lakers lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 94-93.

We once again witnessed a championship caliber team play down to the level of a .500 team, and for any citizen of the ciudad that's not a good sign.

The Lakers looked more like their team in the '04 season than the '09 season.  

Playing down to the competition has seemed to always plague the Lakers and yesterday was no exception. Kobe Bryant showed signs of brilliance during the game but was largely inactive with only 11 points.

Lamar Odom led with 11 rebounds, but his normal rebound counterpart Pau Gasol only had eight.  

What's even more of a head scratcher is that the Lakers led in almost every statistical category in the box score. From shooting percentage to rebounds, the Lakers should not have lost this game.

Hopefully, this will be the kick in the butt the team needs to recreate that historic Grammy road trip that saw the Lakers win out, including serving Cleveland its first home loss and taking the second game of the season from Boston.

Indeed, that's what this team is going to need to finish with the best record in the NBA.

So, in an effort to help the Lakers, here is what I think they need:

1) Win the next game with the Golden State Warriors comfortably at home.

2) Push the bench to lift their level of performance that has been uncharacteristically flat

3) Keep Gasol involved!

4) Keep Trevor Ariza in the starting five. He has played with a fire ever since being inserted into the second unit.

5) Odom needs to be averaging 10 points and 15 boards. When Lamar crashes the boards the Lakers always seem to do well.

6) And finally, Kobe needs to keep his MVP average alive. As we all know, when Kobe falls flat, the team needs a huge pick-me-up from several other players. There aren't many players who can play at a superstar level day in and day out, but Kobe is one of them and needs to keep his level up.

Finally, Phil Jackson needs to sit the team down and explain what it means when the team has a foul to give. Last night’s heartbreaker was something this city doesn't need.  

Rather, let's keep being the team that hands out the heartbreak. That's what Kobe, Derek Fisher, and Gasol are best at.