Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Mother's Day Massacre

At one point Ron Artest stole the ball at mid-court and broke to the hole, looking to score an easy breakaway basket. He jumped to dunk the ball... but could not get it over the rim. That was the story of the afternoon for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers looked exhausted and confused, as they have looked for most of the games since that splendid 17-1 run after the All-Star break that had us all convinced the champs were the team to beat. They looked like they were already booking their hotels in Hawaii and breaking out the fishing rods.

The Mavs shot lights out. The final score was 122-86.

It was the most painful game I think I've ever watched. Odom and Bynum got ejected for cheap frustration plays. Bynum's flagrant foul was especially ugly, as he slammed his forearm into Barea's exposed ribs when Barea went up for a basket in the paint. Then Bynum took his shirt off as he walked out, looking like a punk with no class. As a Lakers fan, I was embarrassed.

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reported before the game:
Magic Johnson, who has sold his minority ownership of the Lakers to Patrick Soon-Shiong but still has a title with the team, made strong comments Saturday on ESPN about the need to break up the team if it is eliminated from the playoffs.

Johnson alluded to needing to find players hungrier for championships and trading either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum.

“Group has probably been together too long. … Probably have to blow this team up,” Johnson said.

Phil Jackson responded Sunday about the comments: “They were uncalled for at this time. Not surprised.”
Phil is not surprised that Magic made uncalled for comments. Phil is right: if the Lakers were to attempt a comeback, they didn't need comments about blowing the team up. But Magic is right also: changes must be made.

Why did the champions implode? I have to go back to George Karl's diagnosis of mental fatigue. I also suspect Kobe is injured more than we know; he has finger injuries, knee problems and a sprained ankle. The big question is whether there is something more going on in the locker room.

This was not the way Phil Jackson was supposed to end his career.

Throughout the season people talked about the Lakers "flipping a switch." Don't worry about unexplainable bad play -- the Lakers will flip some magic switch and play well. Right. The switch has been flipped, the lights are out and it's dark in here.

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