What I saw Lakers v Rockets: Trouble on the horizon in Lakerland??

Saturday night marked the Staples Center unveiling of this highly publicized and scrutinized version of the Los Angeles Lakers, starring LeBron James.

It was an entertaining game but it will be most remembered for this little incident:

 

Now the fisticuffs themselves do not bother me; the typical NBA altercation these days is usually just some vociferous smack talk and maybe pushing and shoving (especially if there are people around to hold them back before anything could really happen). The main protagonists Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul, decided to take a break from making people on their own team wanting to punch them in the face and expand this to other teams; Brandon Ingram must have been watching classic pro wrestling videos, as he performed a wrasslin run in that would make any heel proud. 

The suspensions will likely be doled out today( 4 games for Ingram, 3 games and and that will be that….until the next time the two teams play again on December 13 and the tapes of the fight will be replayed ad nauseam. 

Here is what I saw outside of the minute and a half of madness: 

 

Offense

Once again the Lakers seemed to do a good job sharing the basketball. Through the first two games, LA is eighth in assists at 25.5 helpers per game but they are only a middle of the pack team (14th) in terms of passes thrown, averaging 253 per game. The Lakers had seven players score at least 11 points and that included four of the starters, who were led by Lebron James with 24. The Lakers need to continue to focus on ball and player movement .Rondo will need to focus on moving the ball and not hunting assists and Lebron will have to resist forcing his team to conform to the Lebron James system. 

Through two games, three point shooting continues to be an Achilles heel for the Lakers. They are a combined 15-62, which is a frigid 24.2 from behind the arc in the first two contests. Since they lack the shooters that are becoming requisite in today’s NBA, they will have to rely on execution to get quality, higher percentage three point looks. 

 

Defense

In two games this season the Lakers are allowing an average of 126.0 ppg. This seems to be more of an issue with attention to detail and learning and adhering to defensive principles rather than a lack of effort. That is with the exception of one player- Mr. LeBron James. As I watched the other Laker players put forth winning effort on defense, Lebron’s was severely lacking. I watched him several times spectate an open man near him shoot uncontested jumpers, showing little interest in challenging them. He appeared listless, and disengaged harkening back to level of defense he “played” in the last couple years of his latest Cavaliers’ run. Fatigue or the energy conservation excuse should not be a factor as it’s only the second game of the season. I’m sure the department of spin doctoring and blame shifting at Lebron, Inc ( Shannon Sharpe and Nick Wright) are hard at work developing their talking points to explain this away. The fact remains that Lebron or any other player can not phone it on defense as has a deleterious effect on the team and it has no place on a team that it looking to return to the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. 

Though they are 0-2, the Lakers played well enough to win both games. It is far too soon to hit the proverbial panic button, however the glaring defensive issue will have to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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