These are the sorts of high percentage looks from the opposition that can hurt a team.
Ain't no real way to sugar coat things: The Lakers looked awful for the majority of this very one-sided defeat in the desert. Horrible. "Who are you and what have you done with the Lakers?" bad.
Any momentum potentially built from Saturday's double OT win in Sacramento went straight out the window, as a Suns team rolled twice by the purple and gold earlier this season at Staples returned that favor on their home floor. In spades. To be kind, the Lakers delivered an across-the-board failure, in which even the positives weren't enjoyed with a clear conscience. Take, for example, Kobe Bryant's 34 points, notched on an efficient 14-26 clip from the field. In and of itself, nothing wrong with that. Just a sign of Bryant rising to the challenge of carrying his team, right? But a gander at the box score reveals how Mamba doubled the shot attempts of next closest Laker (Lamar Odom, 13). Generally speaking, this team is deadliest when the offense is balanced. Scales tipped so heavily in one direction reflects an effort where weakness was displayed by the bushel. To wit:
Defensive assignments missed. In particular, those in charge of guarding reserve swingman Jared Dudley at the arc did a lousy job.
Allowing the Suns to dictate their preferably fast pace.
Suns bench 1, Lakers bench 0 (and counting backwards these days).
Yet another whiff from the triple towers as a starting unit.
Pau Gasol had zero presence in the post for the second time in three games.
Andrew Bynum's strong first quarter was cut short by foul trouble, other struggles mirroring his mates. The slumping center, who may be dealing with another knee issue, won't be removed from the starting lineup by Phil Jackson.
Did I mention the defense was bad? Yes, but I'll let Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer drive that point home. As one might suspect, that shoddy lockdown signals the concussed Ron Artest has been missed. (I also think it's worth noting how the O's flow may be affected by his absence as well. Artest is very conscious of moving the ball, an element that's been M.I.A. over this bumpy patch.)
Put all that aside, however, and it was outstanding work from the Lakers. But hey, could always be worse. Kobe will tell you the same after a look at Steve Nash's bling-free digits..
OTHER NBA NEWS
Pacers fans may not like it, but Jim O'Brien has better odds of remaining part of the team than many players.
Anthony Morrow may be young, but he should know by now, DON'T EVER PASS UP A SHOT while playing for Nellie.
Big Baby Davis is hoping for a mature return to action ASAP
Vinny Del Negro is amused by reports of his imminent demise.
The D.C. police are looking into Gilbert Arenas' gun situation.
Paul Millsap pays to play... in flesh.
And finally, HoopsWorld has its list of "First Third" Awards. Lakers fans will likely take exception with the MVP choice, Honorable Mention and rationale. As a fellow booster, I'm not "angry" about it, but I do think the logic is quite faulty. By definition, good teammates don't make one ineligible for MVP awards, or else the winner would be the best player on a losing shallow team. If Kobe (or whatever player) is playing undeniably well, he's playing undeniably well, and the "qualifiers" are irrelevant.