Lakers lack everything in 96-85 loss to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — The Lakers morphed from one season to another with a Hall-of-Fame caliber lineup riddled with injuries and competing agendas to a lineup riddled with an assembly of castoffs eager to contribute.

The drop-off in talent looked obvious.

A healthy Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash sure would’ve come in handy in the Lakers’ 96-85 loss Friday to the New Orleans Publicans here at New Orleans Arena. But Bryant sat behind the bench in street clothes as he continuously rehabs his left Achilles tendon. Nash stayed in warm-ups as part of the Lakers’ season-long strategy to sit him on the second night of back-to-back games.

To make things worse, the Lakers’ fifth starting lineup a mere 1 1/2 weeks into the season provided little to nothing in overcoming the dropoff in talent. The Lakers (3-4) play ended their 11-game winning streak over New Orleans (3-3), appeared as ugly as the Pelicans’ mascot and punctuated a 1-2 trip.

“We didn’t play with the right energy,” Lakers’coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They outran us and outplayed us. We had a couple of bad performances. We needed everyone to be present and they weren’t.”

The Lakers’ move to put Chris Kaman in the lineup with Pau Gasol may have done enough the other night to stop Dwight Howard. But not Anthony Davis, whose 32 points on 8 of 11 shooting, 12 rebounds and six blocks came on a series of dunks, drives and jumpers.

Davis appears destined to appear on the highlight reels of every sports telecast here. His one-handed dunk that gave the Hornets a 78-74 lead with 6:09 left happened after leaping from the bottom of the circle. On the next possession, Davis threw down a one-handed on a fast- break. The Pelicans punctuated a 10-run with Davis stuffing Gasol at the basket before converting on a three-point play to give New Orleans a 98-81 lead with 1:32 left.

Soon enough, Pelicans fans belted “MVP” chants, and they weren’t directed at Bryant.

“He’s good, but he’s not that good,” said D’Antoni, who coached Davis as an assistant on the U.S. Olympic team in the 2012 Games. “He’s good. But it doesn’t matter how they do. We didn’t play well.”

Plenty of things went sour.

A night after making 73.3 percent of their 3-pointers against the Rockets, the Lakers made only six of 19 attempts from behind the perimeter (31.6 percent). Gasol also disappeared with nine points on 3 of 12 shooting, marking a mysterious four-game stretch where he shot below 50 percent.

“I just kept going to the same move without making adjustments. That’s something a player of my experience shouldn’t do,” Gasol said. “I have to be sharper and play a little smarter. I might not have all the speed and explosiveness I had years ago. But I still have to use my experience and fundamentals to be effective every single night regardless of who we’re playing.”

It didn’t help the Lakers lacked any supporting cast to offset Gasol’s poor play.

The Lakers’ 24 turnovers featured six taking place in the fourth quarter.

“It’s tough when I’m turning the ball over or other guys aren’t playing up to their ability,” said Lakers guard Steve Blake, who committed two turnovers and had 13 points albeit on 4 of 11 shooting. It’s tough when I’m turning the ball over or other guys aren’t playing up to their ability.

Kaman played up to his in his second consecutive start by providing 16 points on a seven of 13 clip that featured a series of mid-range jumpers, cuts to the basket and putback. But D’Antoni sat him in the entire fourth quarter because Jordan Hill’s 13 rebounds and presence at least mitigated the damage Gasol and Kaman allowed Davis to leave.

“I thought Jordan was rebounding the crap out of the ball and was aggressive,” Kaman said. “Jordan comes down and plays hard. I have to give him credit. He works his butt off.”

“Obviously I would like to be in there at the end. but it’s not my decision. I’m trying to roll with the punches and continue to fight when I’m in there.

But D’Antoni saw little of that, leaving him flustered afterwards when pressed for an explanation.

“I don’t know, maybe we were fat and happy from yesterday?” D’Antoni said, referring to the Lakers’ win Wednesday over Houston. “I have no idea. That’s not my nature and I have no idea. We talked about it at halftime. But they settled into mediocrity. That’s where we are right now.”

But as the Lakers have hoped

The Lakers took a turn in that season-long in their 96-85 loss Friday to the New Orleans Publicans at New Orleans Arena, fielding their fifth different starting lineup a mere 1 1/2 weeks into the season.

Point guard Steve Nash sat out as part of the Lakers’ season-long campaign to miss the second night of back-to-back games. Nick Young started in his consecutive game at small forward over Xavier Henry, a week-long experiment D’Antoni has done after seeing both players’ production come in waves. And after mostly resisting the idea at the beginning of the season, D’Antoni has decided to pair Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol together in the frontcourt for the second consecutive game.

“It’s easier to get two bigs out,” D’Antoni said. “We’re going to keep trying this until they show me otherwise.”

It didn’t matter.

No one one the Lakers had any answer for Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, whose 32 points on 8 of 11 shooting, 12 rebounds and six blocks came on a series of dunks, drives and jumpers.

Davis appears destined to appear on the highlight reels of every sports telecast here. His one-handed dunk that gave the Hornets a 78-74 lead with 6:09 left happened after leaping from from bottom of the circle.
On the next possession, Davis thew down a one-handed on a fast- break. The Pelicans punctuated a 10-run by stuffing Gasol at the basket before converting on a three-point play to give New Orleans a 98-81 lead with 1:32 left.

Soon enough, Pelicans fans belted “MVP” chants, and they weren’t directed at Kobe Bryant, who sat behind the bench watching the game in street clothes.

None of this surprises D’Antoni. He was an assistant on the U.S. Men’s Olympic team when Davis played shortly after New Orleans selected him with the No. 1 overall pick from Kentucky in the 2011 NBA draft. Well before, Davis posted a stellar season of XX points, Team USA assistant and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to D’Antoni about his defense, shooting and work ethic.

“I’m sure he is a lot better now. He’s got a great feel for the game,” D’Antoni said. “He’s very athletic. He’s a great kid. I’m sure he’s great coach.”
NEW ORLEANS — The Lakers morphed from one season to another with a Hall-of-Fame caliber lineup riddled with injuries and competing agendas to an a lineup riddled

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email