NBA Playoffs: Lakers' Problems Won't Be Solved with Returning World Peace

Danny Webster@@DannyWebster21Analyst IIIMay 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22:  Metta World Peace #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers leaves the court after being ejected for hitting James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The  Lakers won 114-106 in double overtime.  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

There's a good news/bad news scenario brewing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The bad news is, what was once a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets has turned into a 3-3 tie in the blink of an eye with Game 7 looming tomorrow night at Staples Center.

The good news, however, is that all will be "peaceful" in the City of Angels for the big game.

At least, a good majority would like to hope that's the case.

After serving a six-game suspension that was enforced from elbowing Oklahoma City's James Harden in the head, Lakers forward Metta World Peace will return to the Lakers' lineup tomorrow as Los Angeles looks to avoid becoming only the ninth team ever to allow a team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.

If there's any game that would be fitting for World Peace to grace us with his presence, it's a Game 7. He's been known to make big plays in big-time moments in the playoffs since he joined the Lakers a few years ago, and it's become apparent that Los Angeles misses his toughness and defense.

But the problem, simply, is that his toughness and lock-down defense won't solve the other problems that are brewing for the Lakers right now.

For the good portion of the last two games, the Nuggets have had Los Angeles' number in every facet. Other than the late explosion from Kobe Bryant in Game 5, Denver has been dominant.

JaVale McGee and Andrew Bynum have played role-reversal throughout this series, where McGee has owned Bynum on both sides of the floor more times than not. The situation's gone from Bynum being cocky and saying close-out games are "easy," to being shown sitting at the end of the bench in Game 6 looking defeated and pathetic.

And it's becoming more clear by the second that McGee will be earning a good amount of money this summer from any team that needs a center, whereas it's looking more like trading Bynum for Dwight Howard would've been a good idea—before Howard's back surgery, of course.

One of the key components that has been under the radar for the Lakers since the playoffs began has been the play of their bench, which has become quiet at the worst possible time.

In Game 5, the only bench players who scored for Los Angeles were Steve Blake and Matt Barnes combining for 19 points, whereas McGee and Andre Miller combined for 45. When Game 6 got out of hand quickly and head coach Mike Brown emptied the bench, the Lakers' bench—seven players who saw the floor—scored 27 points.

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson outscored the entire Los Angeles bench with his 32-point outburst in Denver's blowout win. How about that for poor bench play?

Pau Gasol has also been a seven-foot afterthought in the last two games, combining for only 12 points on 5-for-21 shooting. If there was ever a time to let Kobe know that there's someone on this team that he can count on for Game 7, it would be Gasol.

Unless World Peace can play center, power forward and play the role of every bench player, his presence alone will not save the Lakers. Every person knows that they're in trouble, and they're lying if they say otherwise. Los Angeles had two chances to close this team out and have blown each opportunity in grand fashion.

Kobe is bound to show up and give his usual playoff performance. But if Los Angeles wants to move on to the next round, Bynum needs to play the game of his career and look like he actually cares; Gasol has to shoot better than 10 percent from the field; and someone on the bench needs to come out of the darkness and start making shots.

Otherwise, there won't be any type of peace in the Lakers' organization.


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