The Los Angeles Lakers are now 0-4 in the 2012 preseason as they prepare their roster for the rigors of a full 82-game season and begin to figure out personnel rotations while embracing a new and more complex Princeton offense.
Despite all that, a winless record, even without Dwight Howard, in the preseason and with a new system should raise at least a little bit of doubt in the minds of Lakers' stakeholders. This team is better than 0-4, no matter the circumstances. Yes, it's the preseason, but the purple and gold have a greater standard to live up to. Fans aren't used to seeing them put together a string of losses, even in meaningless games.
Besides that, no one hates to lose more than Kobe Bryant.
The latest loss came at the hands of the Utah Jazz, where Bryant led all scorers with 31 points, He played a healthy 29 minutes and was clearly a major component in the game plan. This game wasn't just a walkthrough, and it's clear the Lakers made an effort to compete.
Where all of the issues lie remains to be seen, but they are present. One of the key areas the team has to improve in order to be able to compete with the upper echelon of teams in the Western Conference is in the second unit. The reserves were abysmal in 2011-2012, scoring a paltry 21.3 points per game during the regular season. That type of production won't get it done this season, and Bryant's minutes will need to go down for him to remain fresh for another postseason run. He can't be called upon to rescue the reserves' shortcoming for 82 games.
There are significant injuries on the team like the ones Howard, Earl Clark and Jordan Hill are each dealing with, but this is a deep team that should have put together at least one winning effort in the early goings of the preseason. The lone bright spot on the bench on Tuesday night was newly-acquired guard Jodie Meeks, who went 4-of-6 from the arc and added 12 points in the 114-80 losing effort.
In the grand scheme of things, the games prior to Oct. 30 don't mean anything, but there should be a little more substance to this Lakers team at this point, despite injuries and lack of chemistry.
It's all a product of the standard of excellence in Laker-land.