Los Angeles Lakers: Time to Hit Panic Button After Third Straight Loss?

Bailey Brautigan@BBrautiganFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers: Time to Hit Panic Button After Third Straight Loss?

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Lakers have lost three straight games to the Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers and now the Memphis Grizzlies, and we have to wonder if something is wrong in "LA LA Land."

    The Lakers won their second-straight NBA title last season, and after they started this season 8-0, many thought that this team was back and better than ever.

    We were thinking "three-peat."

    Then Kobe Bryant and company dropped back-to-back games to the Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns, but we can't expect the Lakers to go undefeated.

    Five more wins, and we jumped back on the Lakers bandwagon, but then things took a turn for the worse.

    So is this three-game losing streak cause for concern, or are we being too hard on the champs?

    Let's take a look at both sides of the argument and decide if now is the time to panic.

5. Panic: They're Getting Old

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    We can't talk about the Lakers without addressing the age factor.

    The team's youngest starter is 30-year-old Pau Gasol, and time could be taking its toll on the Lakers' veteran roster.

5. Calm Down: They're Built for the Playoffs

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The NBA is not the NFL.

    If a team loses a few (or 30) games during the regular season, they still have a great shot at the playoffs and a championship.

    The Lakers (much like the Boston Celtics) are a playoff team.

    As long as they do well enough to get to the playoffs (and they will), they will do just fine with plenty of rest between games.

4. Panic: Kobe Bryant Needs Rest

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Phil Jackson has been doing a pretty good job of making sure Kobe Bryant gets the rest he needs, but the Lakers will have to keep this up throughout the season.

    Even though Bryant is perfectly capable of carrying this team, he doesn't have to do it every game.

    And he needs to stay healthy for later in the season.

4. Calm Down: He's Kobe Bryant

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    At the start of the season, we had our concerns about Bryant's health. Many thought that his knee would be a major setback for the Lakers.

    Well, the Lakers are 13-5, and Kobe is averaging 26.7 points per game.

    I'd say the "Black Mamba" is doing just fine.

3. Panic: Pau Gasol Can't Do It Alone

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Pau Gasol is probably the most talented big man in the league, but with Andrew Bynum out for a couple more weeks, Gasol has had to pick up the slack by covering at center.

    In each of the Lakers' last four games, Gasol has played over 40 minutes per game (42 against Chicago, 45 at Utah, 46 against Indiana and 45 at Memphis), and his health is in serious jeopardy.

    Give the man a break!

3. Calm Down: Bynum Will Be Back

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Andrew Bynum is taking his time returning from his injury, but the good news is that he will be back in the next few weeks.

    And even though the Lakers need him, he is taking his time getting healthy.

    It might hurt at the moment, but when Bynum does return, he will be 100 percent.

    (Note: The photo above is how I picture Pau Gasol's reaction to Bynum's return.)

2. Panic: Competition in the West

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Lakers have some serious competition in the Western Conference this season.

    The Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Hornets are all having really good seasons so far, and all of these teams could put up a serious fight against the Lakers later in the season.

2. Calm Down: Pacific Division

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The good news is that none of those teams are in the Pacific Division with the Lakers.

    Even though the Lakers have hit a rough patch, their closest Pacific Division competition is the 8-9 Phoenix Suns.

    Better watch out for those Los Angeles Clippers, though!

1. Panic: Tough Road Ahead

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Perhaps the main factor working against the Lakers this season is their schedule.

    Starting next Tuesday, the Lakers will host the Washington Wizards and then go on the road for six straight games (well, seven if you count the "away" game against the Clippers).

1. Calm Down: This Is Barely a Losing Streak

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Let me clear something up here:

    A "losing streak" consists of three games or more.

    If a team loses two games in a row, that is not a "losing streak."

    So, to say that this is the Lakers' second losing streak of the season is incorrect.

    That being said, the Lakers have lost three in a row, but this is the first actual losing streak for this team since March.

    And when the Lakers streak, they stop at three losses.

The Verdict: Calm Down

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Lakers may have lost three straight games, but they are far from the worst team in the league. Only a handful of teams in the Western Conference (or in the entire NBA for that matter) have better records than the Lakers, and one tough week does not a season make.

    After all, we are talking about the Los Angeles Lakers.