The McTen: A Royal Letdown

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
8:22
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers 100-95 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday ...

1

From 2000-02, the Lakers played the Kings in the playoffs three straight postseasons.

From 2008-10, the Lakers played the Boston Celtics in two out of three NBA Finals.

The Kings haven't made it out of the first round of the playoffs since 2004 and came into Friday's game in L.A. with the third-worst record in the league. The Celtics, on the other hand were up by 13 in the third quarter of Game 7 against these very Lakers on their home court and have the second-best record in the league this season.

So, were the Lakers thinking about Sunday's Finals rematch with Boston when they found themselves down by 20 to the lowly Kings?

"Go ahead, next question," was head coach Phil Jackson's response when asked if the team was caught looking ahead right off the bat in his postgame press conference.

When pressed about it later Jackson said, "I can’t explain it. I’m not going to try."

Kobe Bryant allowed that the loss was because of a lack of focus at the task at hand "maybe a little bit," before adding in the next breath, "but I doubt it."

Others argued that perception didn't mesh with reality.

"It didn’t look like[we were focused] out there," Pau Gasol said. "The team [was] focused but it wasn’t translating out on the floor."

Said Lamar Odom: "We got beat. Got [our butts] beat. Sometimes you duke it out ... [and] get hit on the chin. Tonight we got hit on the chin."

The thing is, the Kings and their 10-33 record never should have been given a fighter's chance.

2

The loss was quickly framed in terms of the classic one step backwards, two steps forward mentality.

"I think that sometimes [a bad loss] serves a purpose in itself, not damage," Jackson said. "[It makes] guys get back, get back to their game, their aggressiveness and the nature that we’re trying to play the game."

It is a smart tactic to try and stop the bleeding instead of letting a loss linger, especially with a battle with Boston right around the corner.

"It should intensify our focus against a team that we were supposed to beat at home, for sure," Gasol said. "It’s a tough one to take but hopefully it will make us stronger and it will be useful for the next game."

3

It wasn't the first time this season that the Lakers lost to a sub-.500 team at home.

Remember Indiana? And Milwaukee? And Memphis?

"Some teams play better than you do some nights and they’re more prepared and more ready to play and I can think of all those nights as being teams that really came out and wanted to prove something," Jackson said. "Wanted the game a little more than we did."

Case in point, Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins -- who had a masterful line of 27 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks -- said after the game, "It shows that we can beat some good teams and we can be a good team."

The Lakers might see select teams like Boston or San Antonio as a measuring stick, but they can never forget that just about every team in the league measures themselves against Los Angeles.

4

Cousins and back-up big man Sam Dalembert (18 points, five rebounds) combined for 45 points and 15 rebounds at the power forward and center spot, while Gasol (nine points, 11 rebounds), Odom (four points, eight rebounds) and Andrew Bynum (12 points, four rebounds) combined for just 25 points and 23 rebounds between the three of them.

Consequently, L.A. was outrebounded 42-36 and outscored 50-36 in the paint.

"Their big guys came out and really took it after our guys and carried the day for their team," Jackson said.

Odom, one of the most affable athletes you could wish to come across, tried to duck out of the locker room without talking to the media after going 0-for-7 from the floor. He eventually accommodated questions and would not place the blame on himself and his fellow bigs.

"To win a game, it takes a team effort," Odom said. "It’s not just the guys with the stats, it’s all around. Everybody on their team played well, everybody. They beat us. The big guys might have scored or [we] got outrebounded, but everybody [on the Kings] played well."

ESPN's Ric Bucher defended Odom's game in a tweet by putting out what Odom did during the fourth quarter when the Lakers outscored the Kings by nine and made a game of it: "Unofficial count of LO's 4Q: 2 blocked shots, 2 charges taken, 4 boards. Guarded Cousins, [Carl] Landry and [Beno] Udrih at various times."

Still, when Gasol was asked what was happening for the Lakers down low on Friday, he responded, "Not much."

5

When talking about "guys with stats," Odom could have been alluding to Bryant who scored a game-high 38 points to go with seven assists.

Bryant scored 21 of those points in the first quarter, passing Hakeem Olajuwon for No. 8 on the NBA's all-time scoring list in the process. But maybe in the process of scoring all those points, Bryant was somewhat to blame for the malaise that set in for the Lakers in the third quarter when they were outscored 26-16.

"Perhaps Kobe carried so much of the load in the first half that everybody else was kind of sitting back on their heels and looking for him the whole time in the game," Jackson said. "That kind of changed our intent in the game."

Bryant argued that while 26 of his 38 points came in the first half, five of his seven assists came in the second.

"In the first half, the first two possessions, I realized they were playing me to playmake, so, I just went into scorer’s mode and made them adjust in the second half and I was able to get my guys some open looks," Bryant said.

6

Once the Sacramento game was over and the Derek Fisher-issued gag order about the Celtics was lifted, the Lakers could offer their thoughts on the Boston team that they've gone 9-8 against overall in the regular season and postseason combined since the start of the 2008 Finals.

"They had a tough one [Friday] as well," said Bryant, referring to the Celtics loss to the Suns in a game where both head coach Doc Rivers and forward Kevin Garnett were ejected. "I’m sure they’ll be looking to come in on Sunday and seek a little redemption, but we’ll be ready to."

When asked what the biggest challenge Boston presents is, Bryant did not point to any member of Boston's Big Three of Garnett, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen.

"It’s [Rajon] Rondo," Bryant said. "He’s the catalyst, he makes things go at both ends of the floor. Kevin, obviously he’s the captain defensively, but Rondo’s all over the place with his play-making ability and I think that’s the biggest challenge."

7

The Lakers allowed the Kings to shoot 52.6 percent from the field and top the 100-point plateau.

Since Bynum returned to the starting lineup, the Lakers have gone 12-4 on the strength of their revamped defense, no matter what Jerry West might have to say about it. But when they've struggled defensively, they've really struggled as was the case Friday and also in their last loss to Dallas when the Mavericks shot 55 percent from the field and scored 109 points.

Bryant evoked the premise of one of Allen Iverson's favorite quotes, "Sometimes you just can't throw a rock in the ocean," only he flipped it.

"We just weren’t sharp defensively," Bryant said. "You have games where you’re not offensively and tonight we weren’t sharp defensively at all."

8

Before the game, Jackson spoke about the Western Conference All-Star reserves which will be announced on Feb. 3. He said he would like to see Odom make it, but was enjoying the gifts he was receiving from other teams for his consideration for their players.

"I’m getting so many things from those players’ teams that they’re sending: Wine, trips to Cabo after the season is over … Actually, I’m waiting for a boat," Jackson said.

The Timberwolves are even sending out a Kevin Love cologne.

"I haven’t kind of explored that one yet," Jackson said about the rebounder's fragrance.

9

Quote of the night: "It means we’re still getting better, we still got work to do. That’s all." -- Bryant, summing up the loss.

10

Stats of the night: The loss snapped the Lakers' eight-game winning streak against the Kings ... The Lakers had eight of their 14 turnovers in the third quarter when the game got away from them ... The Lakers are now 3-5 this season when Bryant (27 shot attempts) takes 25 shots or more ... Shannon Brown's 17 points were the most he scored since putting up 21 against Chicago on Nov. 23.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0