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