Los Angeles Lakers keep competing, and keep losing

Lakers guard-forward Nick Young shots a jumper against the Bulls (Jesse D. Garrabrant NBAE Getty Images)

Lakers guard-forward Nick Young shoots a jumper against the Bulls (Jesse D. Garrabrant NBAE Getty Images)

After a Taj Gibson lay-up at the buzzer, the Los Angeles Lakers dropped another game. The 100-102 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls now places the Lakers as the 13th seed in the West, with a record of 16-26. The dismal start can be attributed to key injuries, with losses of Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry, Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar *whew*.

An injury plagued season was probably head coach Mike D’Antoni’s biggest fear, and now that the Lakers worst fears have been met, D’Antoni is still optimistic about his squad. “I think we’re getting our swagger a little bit back,” said D’Antoni.

The Lakers have showed signs of life on this road trip however, winning two straight games against Boston (107-104) and (Toronto 112-106). A win against the Bulls would have given the Lakers their first 3 game win streak since mid November.

What the Lakers should do the remainder of the season: 

Develop, Develop, Develop… 

The Lakers for some time now have been aching for young talent. The roster which won back to back championships has whittled down into only Kobe and Pau, with improvement needed at every position. General Manager Mitch Kupchak deserves credit for bringing in guys like Xavier Henry, Kendall Marshall, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, and Ryan Kelly.

Henry, Marshall, and Johnson were all former top 15 picks within the NBA Draft, and disowned and abandoned by their previous teams. With so much opportunity due to injury, these guys have really played well in Mike D’Antoni’s system. With the quick offense and designed plays setting up guys in position to thrive, D’Antoni has really managed well in game with the roster he has. Pundits claim D’Antoni’s system makes “okay players good and good players great.” So far, the young players have been good with D’Antoni, and have potential to be great with time.

Nick Young is truly a shell of Kobe Bryant. Im not saying Young is the next Kobe; no one is. If Young was truly on Kobe’s level, he’d have his own team, its that simple. But his presence offensively can be some what Kobe-ish, making difficult shots and bailing out his teammates when the shot clock is approaching. Young has really won over a lot of Laker fans in his short tenure with the team. I do see Young in the Lakers future, maybe as Kobe’s backup off the bench. Young could easily be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate behind Bryant in the Lakers rotation for seasons to come.

Ryan Kelly, what a steal. The four year stretch-forward from Duke has really started to heat up the last few games, and might start rolling. Kelly, with career averages of 13 points per game and 5 rebounds per game at Duke, fits into Coach Mike D’Antoni’s game-plan too well. Due to a foot injury he suffered his junior year, Kelly also missed some time his senior season and was still injured come draft day. With the injury he fell to the 48th pick, and the Lakers drafted a player they certainly weren’t expecting to see still available. His ability to knock down the three and long jumpers has really set him apart from the Lakers’ other big men, and with polishing and improvement, he could easily be a 20 pt and 8 rb guy for the Lakers and D’Antoni in years to come.

Sit Kobe Bryant:

Bryant Sits, Lakers tank, get top 6 draft pick, everybody wins?…

The Lakers seriously need to sit Kobe down and tell him straight up, “This team sucks, it is young, they need time, you need REHAB, rest please… pull a ‘D. Rose’ and rest all year, we want you healthy but most of all we want the organization healthy.” I can see Jim Buss crying this to Kobe, but trying to persuade the Black Mamba is no easy task.

Kobe wants to play and play now. He doesn’t have time to wait, but if the Lakers were to become mathematically eliminated from playoff contention come mid February or March, Kobe should realistically think about sitting, getting fully healthy, letting the young bucks get some playing time, and come back next season ready to ball. Why waste Kobe’s gas on this worthless season? The Lakers aren’t winning a playoff series and if they do it means somehow they got both Melo and Kevin Love before the trade deadline.

Which is totally a joke, I think?…

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What’s next: 

Lakers (16-26) at Miami Heat (29-12), TNT Thursday

The Lakers continue their 7 game road trip, heading to Miami to face Lebron, then the Orlando Magic (11-30) on Friday and New York Knicks (15-26) Sunday. I do believe the Lakers can finish above .500 within this road trip (4-3), maybe dropping the game against Miami but winning at  both Orlando and New York . If they can come back home the 28th and face the Indiana Pacers with some momentum they might have a chance, but then again maybe a loss is more valuable then a win at this point.