Los Angeles Lakers: No Speed, No Defense, No Good

Richard LeivenbergContributor IIIDecember 3, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he is called for a foul during a 113-103 loss to the Orlando Magic at Staples Center on December 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Watching the Los Angeles Lakers lose to the lowly Orlando Magic last night was simply awful, but somehow predictable.

The Lakers' vaunted new lineup of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard is just not enough to turn this team into a contender, let alone a champion—as was predicted by many NBA gurus

Many are saying that the loss of Steve Nash, who broke a bone in his foot and may be out another week or so, cost the Lakers the momentum they would need to progress into a dominant team.

But if you watched any portion of the Orlando game, you had to reckon that not even the great point guard could lead this team of slow, old and defense-lacking players to greatness. One stat stands out in particular: The Magic scored 40 points in the fourth quarter alone.

And, if that wasn't enough, this was the first time that Howard would get a chance to face his previous team and show the Magic what they had lost. Well, he sure showed them, didn't he?

Much has also been made about the hiring of Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson when coach Mike Brown was fired early in the season. Many believe Phil would fill the void and that his tricky triangle offensive set would turn the Lakers into winners—in other words, turn back time to when they were champions.

Let it be known that without outside shooters and any true team speed or understanding of how to defend, no one—not Phil, not Mike, not Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Dean Smith and John Wooden working as a group—could make this Lakers team a winner.

Some have pointed to Gasol as a key problem. He looks soft in the middle and can never find the right place to shoot on offense. He is too slow for the D'Antoni seven-second offense, they say. Let's get a faster, younger forward to fill his spot. This is short-sighted to say the least. 

The Lakers have so many issues. Dwight cannot shoot free throws, so opponents are hacking him. The team's bench is simply awful, with no true shooters who can pick up the slack when Dwight is double-teamed. Because of the lack of team speed, there is no way for the Lakers to implement D'Antoni's offensive scheme. When times get tough, like last night's fourth quarter, they simply give the ball to Kobe or he just takes the ball and fires up as many shots as he can.

And finally, giving 40 points in the fourth quarter to the Orlando Magic.

The other teams are fast, young and hungry. Teams like Portland, the Clippers, Indiana, Sacramento and now the Magic have all had their way with the Lakers.

These are second-tier teams, except for the Clippers, who are drooling at the thought of facing the Lakers.

That is simply wrong.