We're now hitting the final stretch of the season, and the Lakers--sometimes in spite of themselves--once again find themselves atop the Western Conference. Many teams can only dream about such a luxury, but the Lakers have come to expect it. Having claimed to have a championship-or-bust mentality over the regular season, it is fair to say that the Lakers have disappointed not only their fans and their coaching staff, but even themselves. As their final road trip finishes up in Atlanta, the Lakers will try to end on a positive note on what has been, by any measure, a disappointing season.
Setting a team goal at the beginning of the year of at least 60 wins, the Lakers now find their situation critical. With only eight games left, they're in a position where they need to win every game but one to acheive their goal.
The Lakers are clearly struggling, and at least some of the blame has to be laid at the feet of Kobe Bryant. In March, he is averaging only 18 shots per game, compared to his 21 shot average for the season.
Moreover, as an avid Laker fan, I cannot help but notice the poor play by the veteran point guard Derek Fisher and the unproductive play of a lackluster bench.
With Kobe's shot average declining, the Lakers have find other ways to put up points. In March the Lakers' win percentage is .640, compared to .730 for the season as a whole. While Kobe's shots-per-game average has dropped, his assists-per-game average has gone up, but the same thing can't be said for the team's winning percentage. What better answer could their be to his critics, who constantly harp on his 'selfishness'. If not Kobe, then who you gonna call?
He's arguably the best player on the planet (note to LeBron fans: stop reading and begin your angry and abusive responses now), but the Lakers' luminary, Kobe Bryant, needs to realize when his team is in peril.
When the Lakers' bench enters the game, they have been consistently out-scored and out-played throughout the entire season. And with Andrew Bynum currently out of the picture, the situation is more dire than ever.
But Kobe is the leader, and he must take command and not depend on his teammates to put the Lakers in position to win the game. "The Closer" needs to do what he does better than anyone else in the league, and that is...PUT THE BASKETBALL IN THE HOOP!