The NBA: The Lakers Really Kinda Suck Right Now

Any star-studded team, stacked with four potential Hall-of-Famers at that, should self-implode when it has more losses than wins 17 games into the season.

So why haven’t the Lakers done so?

Well, the long and short of it is this – relative to the other 29 NBA teams, the Lakers aren’t statistical nightmares. They’re not exactly at the very top or very bottom of any category EXCEPT TWO (we’ll get to that later, kids).

They’re third in the Atlantic and tied for 8th in the West with Denver. In spite of their standing, they’re no longer THE LA team that they’ve perennially been for the better part of the last gazillion years.

Still, these are the Lakers. They have Kobe, Dwight, Nash, and Pau. They have Metta World Peace, who may be a head case (okay, IS a head case), but is at least a serviceable head case, and Antawn Jamison, who can still score in bunches (I think). They have relatively solid back-ups in Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, and Jordan Hill. And they have offensive wizard Mike D’Antoni as coach.

Their roster is better than the 8-9 record they have. So what gives? Why do they suck?

Contrary to probable knee-jerk reactions, there is no real problem with either LA’s defense, despite D’Antoni’s deficiency in this area, or offense – the Lakers are top 10 in the league in three-pointers made, offensive boards, FG%, 3pt%, and points-per-game. They are also middle of the pack in terms of points allowed, blocks, and top 3 in defensive boards. They should be a good team, but why aren’t they?

Here’s the rub – the Lakers have the WORST free throw percentage (an eye-gouging 66.5%), and are tied with the MOST TURNOVERS per outing (16.4 topg – tied with Houston, which is half a game ahead of the Lakers).

The Big Fella is the biggest brick-builder in California.
(image by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

The Lakers can’t take care of the ball well enough (hello, Nash, come back NOW!), and they can’t shoot for XXXX on the line. And the fault falls on their top two players – Kobe and Dwight. Both superstars combine to norm more than 7 turnovers per game, while shooting a combined 63% from the line. LA’s top two players cannot perform that badly and lead a team at the same time.

Which is, naturally, the reason why they’ll get rid of Pau Gasol before Christmas. Of course Gasol is the problem. Of course.

See why the Lakers suck now? Sheesh. Come on, LA! You have to be better than this, or else who can beat Miami outside of the Thunder?!?!?!?!

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
New York 106, Phoenix 99
Carmelo Anthony netted 34 points in the New York Knicks' 106-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Raymond Felton tallied 23 points and seven assists, while Tyson Chandler added 15 points and 13 rebounds for New York, which has won three straight and four of its last five games and remained unbeaten at home. Marcin Gortat had 18 points and 10 boards for the Suns, who have dropped their last three contests.

Chris Copeland and the Knicks continue their
unbeaten run at the MSG.
(image by Henry Ray Abrams/AP)

Orlando 113, LA Lakers 103
The Orlando Magic didn't seem to miss their former All-Star center on Sunday night. In Dwight Howard's first game against his former club, Arron Afflalo stole the show by netting a team-high 30 points, as the Orlando Magic upended the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-103, at Staples Center. Jameer Nelson returned to the lineup after a one-game absence and registered a double-double with 19 points and 13 assists. Glen Davis chipped in 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Nikola Vucevic donated 17 points and 12 boards for the Magic, who snapped a three-game skid. Kobe Bryant paced the Lakers with 34 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the setback, Los Angeles' fourth in its last six games. Howard, who spent his first eight seasons in Orlando before landing in Los Angeles in a blockbuster four-team deal, tallied 21 points and 15 rebounds on Sunday, but his woeful 9-for-21 free-throw shooting plagued his new team late.

Dwight doesn't know he's a big reason the Lakers are struggling.
(image by Harry How/Getty Images)
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