Lakers’ Powerful Front Line Turned to Mush

Just yesterday, I wrote how the size and strength of the Lakers’ big guys could power the team over the Miami Heat, IF Deeee-Wight Howard could just hit enough of the many free throws he would likely be hurling in the general direction of the basket. Boy, was the first part of that wrong.

While Howard and Pau Gasol easily out-size the Miami guys, and Earl Clark and even Antawn Jamison also have that height needed to compete, the game proved that the marshmallow Lakers can neither dominate up front nor EVER depend on Howard hitting a key free throw.

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A couple of facts from the game:

1. LeBum took 13 shots from five feet or closer last night. The powerful Lakers’ big guys were so dominant that he only hit 13 of those 13 shots.

2. Despite their great outside shooting, Miami only scored 31 points from outside the paint. Sounds like the Lakers should have won, doesn’t it? Well, the converse of that statement is that the Heat scored an incredible 68 points from INSIDE the paint. Yep, setting up or driving against Howard, the meta-tag psycho artest thing, Gasol, Clark, and Jamison, the Heat were unstoppable.

And then there was D-Wight. With 1:51 left to play, it was Miami 92, Lakers 90, and Howard had two free throws that could tie the game. At that point he was a reasonable 5 of 11, 45%, and one miss from the minimum 55% we said he needed for the Lakers to win. Well, D-Wight clinked the first and overshot the second, and the demoralized Lakers never scored again, losing 99 to 90, and D-Wight shot 38% from the line for the game (while the rest of the team was shooting 13 of 15).

This morning I actually heard a commentator say that the game showed how much the Lakers had improved under Mike D’Antoni, and in particular how much better they were playing defense. Huh? I think the game proved what I had been saying since the pre-season days – the team is bad, they cannot play defense, period, and their bench is so bad that that alone is a death sentence in the NBA.

This is not a playoff team.

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