Game Notes: Lakers at Magic
Superman dominates as Lakers’ struggles continue.
by Nick Wilke / @Njwilke
On the other end of the floor, the Magic (11-4) were unstoppable on this night. They executed the inside-out game plan perfectly. It started with feeding the ball to Dwight Howard on every possession. When the Lakers doubled him, Howard would pass the ball out to an open shooter for a shot. If the Lakers didn’t double Howard, then he would go to work in the post.
The Lakers couldn’t stop this attack. Howard finished with 21 points and 23 rebounds and was able to draw fouls on Andrew Bynum. The four other Magic starters all attempted at least four treys. As a team, the Magic were 12-27 (44 percent) from long distance.
Lately, the Lakers (10-7) have been having trouble scoring, averaging just 80 points per contest over their last three games. They scored a season-low 73 points against Dallas on Monday, but still escaped with a win thanks to a Derek Fisher clutch trey.
Over the Lakers’ first nine games in January, the Lakers were averaging 95.6 points per contest. Over their last three games, the Lakers have averaged just 80 points per game on 38 percent shooting.
Nobody can really explain what is causing the streak, but there is no doubt in the L.A. locker room that their team has been in a funk lately.
“We haven’t been clicking offensively,” Pau Gasol said. “But we have to continue to work and continue to share the ball and make the right pass and trust that it will get to the right guy and he’ll shoot it. That’s the best we can do. If we continue to do that it’s not gonna be frustration or anything because we’re making right decisions.”
“We’re struggling offensively no question about it,” said Bryant after the game. “We did a great job tonight. We got a lot of good looks, I mean a lot of them. We just gotta keep hitting the open man and those shots will fall.”
Kobe Bryant has cooled off somewhat after his four straight 40-point games, averaging 22 ppg on 40 percent shooting over his past three games. With everybody else struggling, the Lakers are counting on Kobe to do even more now.
Lakers’ head coach Mike Brown doesn’t like to see all the production coming from Kobe because opposing teams are changing their defensive strategies to key in more on the Lakers’ superstar.
“With us not shooting the ball well, everybody is sending two guys at [Kobe],” Brown said. “We’re gonna have to continue to step in and knock down shots because we’re getting decent looks. Kobe is doing a nice job of getting the ball out of his hands and getting it to the open guy.”
Brown is confident in his team, but wants his players have to have confidence in themselves.
“I just gotta make sure that our guys stay as confident as possible to step in and take open shots because eventually they’re gonna fall,” said Brown.
Gasol assured the media that his team doesn’t lack confidence, and that he is confident with the open guy, whoever it may be, taking the shot.
“I don’t think it’s a lack of confidence, maybe a lack of rhythm at times,” Gasol said. “Sometimes we move the ball better than others, so we have to be more consistent with our game so that guys know that when they’re open they’re gonna get the ball. If we continue to do that, it’ll be better and those shots are gonna fall and our offense will be more fluent.”
The Lakers have lost three of their last four games, but they will look to improve as they return home to the Staples Center for two home games against Indiana and that other L.A. team. They will also get some time to rest, playing just two games in the next seven days.