Fine-tuning the Los Angeles Engine
The Lakers struggles since the All-Star break are no secret. Los Angeles has gone just 13-9 since the break, including losses to several teams that aren’t going to make the playoffs. While Lakers fans scream apocalypse, it is important to remember that the playoffs are yet to begin, and that there is still time for the Lakers to turn everything around. However, to do that they must change the way they are approaching basketball right now.
One of the biggest problems for Los Angeles since the All-Star break has been the bench. Before the season began everybody knew the bench was going to be crucial in the Lakers’ quest to repeat, and so far they have been a major disappointment. Other than Lamar Odom, who is now starting due to the injury to Andrew Bynum, there is not a single reserve player that should take pride in the way they have played this season. While almost all of them, minus Sasha Vujacic, have had productive games here and there, none of them have been consistent enough to anchor the Lakers when the stars take a breather.
If the Lakers want any chance of making the Finals, let alone winning the title, they are going to need the bench to play at a high level consistently. Without this, the Lakers will fizzle soon, and most likely succumb to the depth of the Western Conference. The players that Los Angeles needs to step up the most off the bench are reserve guards Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown. Both are capable of putting up double digit scoring nights, and they are the most offensively gifted subs on Phil Jackson’s bench.
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