7 Burning Questions for Lakers on Upcoming Road Trip
With their 117-110 loss to the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers are now set to embark on a four-game road trip. Their opponents include the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards.
Although this appears to be a streak in which the Lakers can win as many as three games, there are burning questions for L.A. to answer.
From their 2-6 road record to the injuries that have damaged their chances at victory, the Lakers are in prime position to underwhelm. Fortunately, Los Angeles can cure its woes by answering the following questions.
When Will Steve Nash Return?
This question will continue to be asked until the day he returns.
According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Steve Nash will be sidelined for 10 to 14 days (as of Dec. 2). Nash referred to this estimation as a total guess:
Another 10 days to two weeks? That's a total guess. Since I can't run, I'm not going to play this week.
The recovery time is getting better. But it's a small improvement.
This approximation would have Nash playing anywhere between Dec. 12 and 16. The Lakers play three games during that time.
They're at New York on Dec. 13, at Washington on Dec. 14 and at Philadelphia on Dec. 16.
Is Chris Duhon the Short-Term Answer?
Over the past three games, Chris Duhon has had two in which he tallied double-digit assists. The most recent outing came during the Lakers' 117-110 loss to the Jazz. Duhon posted 12 points along with 11 dimes.
That's the fourth time in six games in which Duhon has posted at least seven assists.
The Lakers are 2-2 when Duhon hands out at least seven dimes. They've lost their past three games when he hasn't.
Will Duhon show up again with the dishes? Or will the Lakers continue to miss their franchise point guard?
That could be the key to their success or failure.
Will There Be Consistency on Defense?
No matter how you cut it, the Lakers are playing pitiful defense. Need some numbers to support that claim?
They are allowing 102.5 points per game under head coach Mike D'Antoni. They've allowed at least 103 points in five of their past six games, as well as at least 110 in three of their past five.
For the season, the Lakers are 3-8 in games in which they allow at least 100 points. And it's all about effort.
Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill continue to step up and provide help-side defense. Unfortunately, their teammates are not providing them with the necessary support.
If this is to continue against the likes of the Knicks, this will not be a pleasant streak away from home. It will only continue to create questions that Los Angeles appears unable to answer.
Can They Limit the Turnovers?
Thus far in 2012-13, the Lakers rank 29th in the league with an average of 16.5 turnovers per game. Such has been the primary reason they are allowing opponents to score at will in transition.
Against teams who thrive in up-tempo situations such as the Knicks, 76ers, Cavaliers and Wizards, turnovers could be their undoing.
New York and Philadelphia happen to rank first and second in the league in turnover differential.
Are the Lakers primed for two losses?
Is Pau Gasol Recovering?
Considering McMenamin cited Gasol's duel knee tendinitis, one can only expect the Spaniard to miss more time. Will Gasol be able to recover in time for a return to the Lakers' road trip?
For those who believe the Lakers are better off without Gasol, that's far from the truth. L.A. is 1-3 without Gasol in the lineup.
Furthermore, the Lakers are averaging 103.9 points scored and 95.8 points allowed per 48 minutes with Gasol on the floor. Those numbers drop to 97.4 points scored and 101.1 points allowed per 48 when he's on the bench.
Even as he struggles individually, Gasol makes L.A. a better team.
Should Kobe Bryant Be the Primary Scorer?
The Lakers are 3-9 when Kobe Bryant leads the team in scoring. The truth of the matter is, though, Kobe isn't leading the team in scoring unless he needs to.
When players such as Dwight Howard lack the necessary level of aggression, Bryant steps up and provides the points.
As we've come to learn, however, L.A. is at its best when Bryant can facilitate and pick his spots.
The Lakers become idle during the final period of play. Until that changes, Kobe will continue to put up a high volume of shots.
Can They Win?
The Lakers are 9-12 overall and 2-6 on the road. Their losses away from home have come with averages of 102.3 points scored and 103.4 points allowed per game.
The Lakers are going to play the Cavaliers and Wizards, who have combined for six wins and 32 losses. Unfortunately, they're also playing the Knicks and 76ers.
New York is 8-0 at home, while Philly has won three of its past four at the Wells Fargo Center.
This one certainly won't be easy.