NBA Playoffs 2011: Why Are the L.A. Lakers Having Trouble with the Mavericks?

Aaron MContributor IIIMay 5, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers sits on the bench alone before the start of the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2011 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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

After losing two straight at home, the Lakers find themselves in a lot of trouble.

Ron Artest is suspended going into Game 3 after the Queens native showed shades of his old self by grasping the face of J.J. Barea.  The Lakers big men have yet to show up and Kobe is being Kobe, taking a ton of shots and limiting everyone else on the team.

Throughout the last two games, Kobe has taken 49 shots. He has made a healthy 23 shots of those 49. However what about his teammates? How are they getting involved in the game? As of right now he is averaging 1.5 assists in these last two games.

During the first round Kobe was distributing the ball more and shooting less and they won; now that he is shooting more, they seem out of it.

However, these are just symptoms to the disease.

The problem is not with Kobe. It is not with the fact that Ron Artest has lost composure. The problem is not the fact that Gasol and Bynum often find themselves helpless in the paint, nor does the problem lie in the hands of Derek Fisher, who has been statistically awful during these conference semifinals.

The problem far exceeds any individual input from the team. Mentally, the Lakers have already ended their season.

Phil Jackson, aged 65, seemingly has his eyes set on retirement. His laissez-faire attitude, which has worked for almost a quarter of a century, no longer seems to have a positive impact on the team. This infectious attitude has trickled down and severely affected the team. 

They have mentally checked out.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost five straight heading into the playoffs and had a very up-and-down season. At one point Phil Jackson told reporters, "Kobe screwed up the game," referring to a blowout loss against the Memphis Grizzlies earlier in the season.

This is not the first time the future Hall of Famer has called out his star—one time he labeled Kobe Bryant "uncoachable." You could get away with this attitude when you're winning, but as a coach it all falls on you when you are losing.

The Lakers are simply lifeless.

We are witnessing the Mavericks, full of life and energy, decimate the Los Angeles Lakers, whose wounds are self-inflicted. In previous years, every time the Lakers had their back against the wall, there was always reprieve. Reprieve in the fact that they arguable have the best player in the world who could bail them out of anything. Reprieve in the fact that they arguably have the best coach of all time.

Heading into Game 3, things just are not the same anymore.

Arguably the best player in the world is shooting an unlimited amount of shots and limiting the rest of his team from getting involved in the game. This is something Kobe Bryant does when he cannot find any other way to win.

The big men seem ready to hit the golf course and their coach, also a legend, has his eyes set on retirement.

The Lakers find themselves with their backs against the wall and need to win their next game if they have any hope at saving their season. The trouble is not because the Mavericks are playing well, it is because the Lakers do not want to play.