The Los Angeles Lakers had title hopes this season. They still do actually, but they find themselves in a rather tenuous situation having allowed the Denver Nuggets to come back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the series at 3-3 on Thursday night.
Sure they will play Game 7 in Los Angeles but that may not be much of a consolation after the way they just got thumped in Denver last night. The Nuggets led from start to finish and the Lakers never really threatened them in the second half.
The Lakers should be able to muster up enough intensity to take down the Nuggets and advance to the next round but if they allow themselves to lose to the Nuggets then there could be some big changes coming this summer.
The biggest change will be at head coach. The last team to go up 3-1 in a series and lose was…..the 2006 Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson. Phil was in his first season back with the Lakers after a one-year hiatus to re-charge his batteries.
Jackson already had nine championships on his resume so he was in no danger of getting canned but current Lakers’ head coach Mike Brown does not. And it doesn’t help that Brown clearly has the most talented team of the two but he is getting outcoached by Nuggets’ coach George Karl.
The Lakers’ team that Jackson coached back in the 2005-2006 season wasn’t nearly as talented or experienced as this team. Andrew Bynum was a rookie that year and the only good player on the roster besides Kobe Bryant was Lamar Odom.
It’s sad but Brown doesn’t seem to have much control over this team. Bryant takes shots whenever he wants and no one seems interested in getting the ball to the Lakers’ two All-Star big men.
In the Lakers’ Game 5 loss to Denver in Los Angeles, Bynum consistently got deep position in the post and waved his arms frantically hoping that one of his guards would be nice enough to lob the ball to him in the paint.
They never did. Instead they took shot after shot from the outside.
A good coach would have made sure that Bynum got the ball but Bynum continued to get ignored all game long. He ended the night with only eight shot attempts.
Bryant played in Game 6 on Thursday despite being sick from a stomach virus. Bynum is the guy who many felt would naturally step up in Bryant’s place but Bynum was only able to manage 11 shots before being benched for the entire fourth quarter.
It’s easy to blame the players for their inability to knock out an inferior foe but a lot of that falls back on Brown. He has to put together a game plan that puts the Lakers in position to win.
But his inability to do so may make Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak re-think his decision to hire Brown. Maybe Bryant will remind him this summer that Brian Shaw is still available.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at RHall_TPFB@Yahoo.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.
Also check out these stories: