The term “encouraging loss” in Lakers land is a very discouraging term. Against the reigning NBA champs though, the Lakers had just that. They held the Heat under 100 points (they scored 99), and never fell far behind the Heat. They were in a chance to win the game with 1 minute remaining. Lebron and company were one night removed from embarrassing the Warriors, and the Lakers demonstrated they were competitive, even if they lost the game.
According to Mike D’Antoni’s assertion of when the season actually starts, the Lakers are now 2-1 on the year, and not 17-22 as has been rumored by the league office. But what do the Lakers need to do from here on after this hard fought loss?
1.) Continue to Play Up-tempo—Even though it lead to 12 turnovers by the 2nd quarter the Lakers need to continue to play up tempo. Steve Nash pushed the ball and it kept them engaged in the game, and lose concentration for stretches much less. That includes pressuring the ball on defense. Kobe deserves credit for his needed effort denying the ball. He might not have anything left by the time the post-season comes around, but the Lakers need wins now.
2.) Get it inside early and often—It’s almost the midpoint of the season, and with the Lakers in desperate need of wins its time to see if Dwight Howard can carry the team. Let Gasol play a supporting role, and Nash get Howard the ball in early offense and see if the big guy can do some damage early, not late in the game when its more tempting to put him at the line.
3.) Develop some consistency, D’Antoni—At different times of this NBA season, players have been stuck at the end of the bench for weeks on end. When the All Star break comes in 1 month, the tinkering needs to stop. With the list of injuries piling up like freeway traffic D’Antoni has been forced to make a lot of undesirable adjustments. But who gets minutes and when don’t seem to be game-by-game, match up-by-match up decisions. They seem to go week-to-week or longer. The bench is not going to be the Lakers strength at any time in 2012-13, but the inconsistent play is directly related to the undefined roles. Nitpicking over whether Darius Morris gets 0, 5, or 25 minutes will never be the answer for this team. But when Antawn Jamison gets no playing time for 3 weeks, and now is back to 6th man duties it is no surprise that the Lakers are inconsistent. Asking for contributions from everybody is a positive for the Lakers, but inconsistent minutes results in inconsistent contributions.
The Lakers try to improve their 5-12 road record on Sunday headed into 3 games at Toronto, Chicago, and Memphis.