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What's wrong with the Lakers?

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 1/3/2011 10:13:15 AM

In this era of instant gratification and the 24-hour news cycle, the huge question in Los Angeles is what’s wrong with the Lakers?

For bettors, it is important to identify teams that are going one way or another but to over react about the defending champions could be a mistake this early in the season.

Those that made the knee-jerk reaction to recent Lakers losses have not looked at the big picture.

They lost to the Bucks at home 4 days before Christmas, but that was the first game back from a 5 for 5 road trip and it was also a look ahead to the Miami Heat who was next out.

Sure, the Heat put a hurt on the Lakers, but they are for real. Then the Lakers had to travel to San Antonio for their next game and they were handled easily again.

There was a precedent for such a bad streak. In 2009, right around the same time of the year, the Lakers got beat by Cleveland, won the very next night but it was against a poor team in overtime, then in the very next game, they got crushed by the Phoenix Suns.

Déjà vu anybody?

In reality, there are some built-in problems with the best team that calls the Staples Center home.

First off, the hunger just has not been there all year. It’s a natural thing to rest on one’s laurels after winning consecutive titles but that kind of malaise will not last if Kobe Bryant has anything to say about it and he does.

He is the fire of this team still and although Derek Fisher may be the heart and soul, everybody knows the bus is driven by Kobe.

What he has done this year already is start to not trust his teammates and that is a concern. L.A. plays much better when the offensive is run and they move the ball and make that extra pass.

Kobe so far has been reluctant to share quite as much as he did last year.

For those that bleed the purple and gold, L.A. has been short handed. They were relying on Theo Ratliff to give Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol some needed rest but he went out with a knee and Bynum is just now starting to get into shape as a starter.

The year ended with consecutive wins and Bynum is showing signs. He played 31 minutes on New Year’s Eve, hit half of his shots and pulled down 15 rebounds.

The key for L.A. is Lamar Odom. With Bynum back, he can now captain that second unit and he is the rare NBA beast that can play all 5 positions.

When he gets the ball off the glass, he immediately heads up the floor and that either opens up the spot-up shooters, or allows Odom to go directly to the hoop.

If the rest of the team just plays okay, and Odom plays good, the Lakers will win just about every time in that situation.

When thinking about betting the Lakers this year, know this. They started the year 23 and 10 but only covered 15 of those events.

They are slightly better covering on the road, but only covered 5 of 15 at home.

Since they are a popular team and the concept is that they are explosive, the over/under number can be inflated and as they started the season the under covered 5 more times.

Bottom line, if they stay healthy, they will have to be knocked off their pedestal to get to the NBA finals.



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