LA Lakers: Where Did the 2-Time Defending Champion Lakers Go?

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIMay 7, 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

The Los Angeles Lakers are a foreign entity right now. As the series is firmly in the grasp of the Dallas Mavericks at 3-0, “The Lake Show” is about to go on hiatus. 

Each player wearing purple and gold appears indistinct. Even Phil Jackson doesn’t look the part.

Who would think that the Mavericks would be so affective with the likes of J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic, and Jason Terry?

Certainly, most Laker fans would expect Kobe Bryant to outscore that trio on any given night.

However, in a crucial game three to save the series, Bryant scores 17 points on 16 attempts. A performance that screams impersonator!

The Lakers do not look like themselves. It was clear after the game two debacle in Los Angeles. 

The media went searching for the problem. Lakers center, Andrew Bynum, believed the losses were “trust issues”. He was right.

During the game two loss at home, the fans at Staples Center were in disbelief. The crowd had no trust in their beloved Lakers.

The confidence left the building, along with the Lakers' game.

Dallas was supposed to be the city where they regained their form, but it was not meant to be. 

Even with Bynum’s 21-point and 10 rebound performance, it was not enough. The Lakers needed something special.

Instead, Pau Gasol continued to struggle through referee complaints, fumbled rebounds and another elementary shooting performance.

It certainly doesn’t help that Gasol’s shooting woes have harmed his defensive skills, too. After time, a coach can only take so much.

And Phil Jackson even tapped into his gritty, former-player mentality for inspiration with Gasol. Yet that failed to hit home with Gasol and the Lakers.

None of these descriptions are fit for a two-time defending champion. However, no one pictured the Lakers losing the first three games of this series, or any series.

But the Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki has been a perennial threat for years. This just happens to be the Lakers and Mavericks first meeting during the Kobe-Dirk era.

Right now, Nowitzki and the Mavericks are hungry for a championship, and their play exudes that sentiment. Dallas wants what the Lakers have.

At this point, Kobe, Phil and the Lakers are allowing the Mavericks to take their crown with little resistance. 

Perhaps the three-year stretch of reaching the championship series has added miles to the Lakers’ aging ride. An excuse like that would fit, but not for a player like Kobe Bryant.

Bryant said, “Call me crazy, but I still think we can win.” Maybe he is right, but it’s tough to believe him, not only because no team has ever comeback from a three-game hole, but because Kobe has not shown that typical “Black Mamba magic”.

J.J. Barea should never outscore Kobe in the final quarter of any game, unless Bryant did not play. However, Kobe left fans in shock, only to play out that scenario.

Laker fans were shocked, and are still in disbelief. 

This could be the end of the Lakers run.

Everyone across the media outlets has said, “The series is over.”

Most would tend to agree, even in Los Angeles. With minimal enthusiasm and fight from the Lakers, the argument for the contrary falls on deaf ears.

Even with Kobe, Phil, the lackluster Gasol, the ejected and suspended Ron Artest, as well as the cast of others cannot complete this Hollywood scripted, fairy tale comeback.

It might be time to read the Lakers last rights, but with games still to be played, anything can happen. It is only four straight victories, right?

Are you willing to put your trust into the Lakers?