Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Lakers [Print without images]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Cavs shock the world, along with the Lakers

By Andy Kamenetzky

Wow. I mean ... Wow.

Forget this being the worst loss of the season. That's not even debatable. You could make a very legitimate argument that this was the worst loss of Phil Jackson's time with the Lakers. At the very least, the worst loss of the Pau Gasol era. Coming up short against a team with two -- count 'em, two -- wins since Nov. 27? A team that nearly set the record for consecutive losses in the professional big four? A team with zero All-Stars or even a go-to player?

Yes, it's the last game of a seven-game road trip, but it's not like a surplus of energy should be required to beat a team they limited to 57 points in January. As a unit, the Lakers didn't show up, mentally or physically.

I've been preaching patience. Perspective. Recognition of how it's a marathon, not a sprint. That it can be difficult for a two-time defending championship team to get up for the NBA's bottom feeders. That we've been down this road before, and it ended with titles.

But frankly, this is alarming, even for me. I don't think it signals the Lakers lacking the talent to defend their title, but I'm starting to wonder whether they're capable of rediscovering their identity and drive.

This is the Lakers equivalent of rock bottom. There will be talk of potential and greatness slipping away, and time running out to prevent a disastrous outcome.

Ultimately, it's up to the Lakers to decide whether they want to save themselves.