The Los Angeles Lakers finished their Grammy road trip with a 3-3 record, including splitting four games last week. As the Lakers limp home at 16-12, they simply aren't playing well enough to suggest a playoff appearance is a given, or that they would be able to advance in the playoffs should they qualify for the postseason.
The Lakers opened the week in Philadelphia, battling the 76ers without head coach Mike Brown, who.served a one-game suspension for bumping referee Zach Zerba in Utah. Kobe Bryant started out on fire in his hometown, scoring 24 points in the first half to pass Shaquille O`Neal for fifth place on the NBA all-time scoring list. But Bryant went ice cold in the second half, and the Lakers blew a seven-point lead with five minutes to play, wasting the second 20-20 game of the season for Andrew Bynum.
Summed up succinctly at Silver Screen and Roll, "All the strengths and weaknesses of this Lakers team was on full display tonight. Unfortunately for the Lakers, their weaknesses are simply too many to overcome against a playoff caliber opponent."
|Field Goal %:||40.5%|
|True Shooting %:||48.3%|
|Monday: 76ers 95, Lakers 90|
|Wednesday: Lakers 88, Celtics 87 (OT)|
|Friday: Knicks 92, Lakers 85|
|Sunday: Lakers 94, Raptors 92|
The Lakers had two days off to prepare for their rivals, the Boston Celtics. The 2008 and 2010 Finals participants are both looking like teams who have no business anywhere close to the 2012 NBA Finals, but they still delivered an entertaining game on TNT. Pau Gasol had 25 points and 14 rebounds in the win, including the game-winning putback in overtime.
One night later in New York, the Lakers got a first-hand look at Jeremy Lin, setting the NBA on fire in his first week as a starter. Lin torched the Lakers for 38 points, and the Knicks were able to beat the Lakers rather easily, even though New York was missing both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.
The loss in New York meant the Lakers needed a win Sunday morning in Toronto to avoid a losing record on the trip. In the first quarter, the Lakers looked like they would roll, with a 29-11 lead, but slowly and methodically the Raptors chipped away at the lead, finally fully erasing it late in the fourth quarter. Suddenly the Lakers saw themselves down four points with a minute to play, but Kobe Bryant hit a three-pointer to pull within a point, then stole the ball and passed ahead to Metta World Peace for the lead.
Jose Calderon, the latest point guard to torch the Lakers, with a career-high 30 points on Sunday, hit a shot with 16.9 seconds left to give Toronto a one-point advantage, but Kobe rescued the Lakers with a jumper along the baseline with 4.8 seconds left to secure the win.
Yes, a win is a win and the Lakers should take what they should get. But the Toronto game should never have come to that. The Lakers had a tough time on offense during the week and as presently constructed don't look like a team that is going anywhere.
Here are some individual numbers for the week:
- Kobe Bryant: 29.0 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, 3.0 assists per game, 50.3% true shooting percentage, 26-for-30 from the free throw line (86.7%), moved into fifth on the all-time scoring list.
- Pau Gasol: 18.3 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 54.9 TS%, four double-doubles in four games, 88.2% from the free throw line (15 for 17)
- Andrew Bynum: 13.3 ppg, 14.8 rpg, 2.8 blocks per game, 47.3 TS%
For more news and notes on the Lakers, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.