Thursday, November 1, 2012
Lakers vets' sense of urgency kicking in
By Dave McMenamin
PORTLAND, Ore. -- If admission truly is the first step to recovery, then the Los Angeles Lakers maybe, just maybe, started to crawl out of the ditch they've found themselves in at the start of this season with their postgame talk after a 116-106 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday that dropped them to 0-2.
"It's going to be a little edgy because I'm not a very happy camper around here right now," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said, setting the tone for what the atmosphere around the team is going to be in the coming days. "Some things we have to shore up, and we gotta make sure we keep a sense of urgency."
It's not just that L.A. is 0-2, but it's how they seemingly regressed after their first loss to the Dallas Mavericks instead of learning from their mistakes. After the Mavs game, most of the Lakers identified two areas where they needed immediate improvement -- one was protecting the ball and limiting turnovers and the other was upping the defensive intensity and effort.
All that talk didn't amount to much because the Lakers went from coughing up 14 turnovers and allowing the Mavs to score 99 points to racking up an egregious 25 turnovers against the Blazers that contributed greatly to the Blazers hanging 116 points on the board.
Lakers coach Mike Brown maintained his patient approach, trying to polish whatever positive areas he could find.
"You see flashes," Brown said. "You see flashes of us moving the ball well. You see flashes of us cutting well. You see flashes of us cutting well. Even defensively, at times, we're doing the right thing, but we haven't put it together for 48 minutes and I talked to the guys about that. We have to put it together for 48 minutes in order to be good in this league, and right now we're not doing it. Especially defensively."
Most of the Lakers players were finished with silver linings.
"It's hard to find positives right now," Steve Blake said, bluntly.
For Steve Nash, who failed to even make the playoffs in his past two seasons with the Phoenix Suns, the lack of execution has been an affront to the opportunity at hand.
"We're taking things for granted a little bit," Nash said. "We're just not sharp. We're not early on any of our rotations. We're not necessarily proactive and we're reacting, and I think it's getting us in trouble."
And Pau Gasol, the thinking man's co-captain who usually takes the long view to counterbalance Bryant's sometimes snap-judgment co-captaincy, didn't try to tiptoe around the issues either.
"We just can't allow a team to score three quarters over 30 points," Gasol said. "It can happen one quarter, maybe. If that. But not three quarters in a row, where a team puts up those kinds of points on the scoreboard, and expect to win."
Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace were the last two starters to go through their postgame interviews and took the glass-is-half-full approach. Howard joked that a world-renowned chemist had visited the Lakers to show them how team chemistry works. World Peace said the team was "headed in the right direction" even after the season started with two losses in the first two games, just like last season's disappointing campaign did.
But the voices that carry weight in the locker room had already spoken. The Lakers have admitted there is a problem. Let the recovery begin.