Pivot Points: The Lakers Must Regain Hunger in the Wake of Humiliation

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center on December 25, 2009 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 Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Life's most important lessons are sometimes gleaned during the course of painful experiences, and if that is true, then the Christmas Day beat-down suffered by the Los Angeles Lakers should prove to be a valuable teaching moment.

It would be easy to chalk this up as a bad game for the Lakers, but what the Cleveland Cavaliers accomplished was of a far more sinister nature, and left the Lakers in need of some self-reflection.

For one, the Cavaliers looked much more prepared for this contest and had a game plan that they executed to the highest degree, to which Los Angeles was never able to recognize or adjust.

Cleveland decided to directly attack what had been considered the strength of the Lakers, their post players, with their own big men, and Los Angeles was for the first time this season out-performed in the paint.

Cleveland showed no fear of the Lakers in the post, and were easily able to dictate the pace and rhythm of the game, in addition to getting numerous unchallenged opportunities at the rim.

One game will not determine the season, but the lack of energy, and the obvious submission by the Lakers, was a hard pill to swallow, and is not something you would expect from the NBA's defending champions.

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Pau Gasol seemed to be trapped in the throes of his reputation as a soft player. He looked confused on defense and he suffered from a lack of confidence on the offensive end.

Gasol and Andrew Bynum failed to communicate on defensive rotations, and that lack of communication led to a a variety of embarrassingly easy post points for the Cavaliers.

Bynum seemed completely lost, and ended up being yanked early due to his inability to compete on either end of the floor. Unfortunately, there was not much help to be found on the bench this night.

The Cavaliers held the Lakers reserves to a total of 11 points on a night when even a decent performance from the bench could have helped stem the tide. Instead, this part of the team continued to be a major concern.

Mo Williams and his dominant performance spotlighted another recurring problem for the Lakers—their inability to defend the ball at the point of attack, which was the precursor for all of the Lakers' ailments.

Williams dominated Lakers guard Derrick Fisher, and seemed able to get his shot whenever he wanted or create matchup problems on the strength of his unstoppable penetration.

Los Angeles was manhandled in most aspects of the game, and their desperation in the fourth quarter was another first for a team that has been mostly unchallenged this season.

To say the Lakers came unhinged would be an understatement, as their frustration led to the disqualification of Lamar Odom, and a few nasty moments from the fans who threw objects on the court to voice their displeasure.

Los Angeles was left with many questions to answer, and the most pervasive has to be about their hunger to repeat as NBA champions.

Instead of performing with the determination and heart of a champion, the Lakers looked mentally unprepared and undeserving of that particular accolade.

Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest were the only Lakers who seemed to understand the peril the Lakers were in, and were the only ones able to adjust their games accordingly.

On a night when LeBron James was held in check, the Los Angeles Lakers fell victim to a host of familiar haunts as well as a few new ones, and instead of a victory, they were forced to deal with the realization that much more work is needed to accomplish their lofty goals.


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