The Los Angeles Lakers embark on their annual Grammy's road trip. The purple and gold have hit the road for a seven-game, seven-city, and ten-day stretch away from the friendly confines of the Staples Center. An extended road trip is always pivotal. Due to the injuries, uncertainty, multiple line-up changes, setbacks, unacceptable defense and poor execution during the first half of the season.
The Lakers have placed themselves in a hole so deep that it is doubtful they'll be able to climb out of it. The Lakers are in a precarious situation serious enough to say that for the rest of the season every game is as important as a playoff game. This Grammy's road trip will either be a season defining or season ending trip.
To stay on track the purple and gold need to post a 6-1 or 5-2 record. The short-lived three-game streak made the Lakers appear as if they had a handle on how to work through their problems, improve and move forward. The loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday 1/30 proved otherwise.
Although the Lakers led for most of the game, Los Angeles, once again fell victim to the ghosts of leads past. A bounce back win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, their first road win of 2013 and a return to prominence by Pau Gasol were welcome sights. Pau Gasol posted the type of numbers Lakers fans expect of him 20 points and 10 rebounds. Gasol showed what he can do when featured.
Although most of Gasol's production was from the mid-range area and not the post when he is aggressive the Lakers are a different team. Center Dwight Howard is still injured and listed as day-to-day. Howard came back to Los Angeles to receive platelet-rich plasma treatments on his right shoulder; he has since re-joined the team, but will not play today in Detroit.
The Lakers need Dwight Howard back, but it is blatantly obvious that for the purple and gold to make a playoff run Mike D'Antoni has to figure out how to play Gasol & Howard together. The Lakers are now 10th in the Western Conference, 3rd in the Pacific Division. The purple and gold are chasing Denver (6th), Utah (7th) and Houston (8th) for one of the last three playoff spots.
The Lakers are three-games behind the Rockets, four-games behind the Jazz and trail the Nuggets by eight-games. There are 35 games remaining in the 2012-2013 season, the Lakers need to win at least 26 games to earn a playoff berth. The Lakers have improved their ball movement, player movement and are doing a better job of reading the defense and getting the shots desired.
Kobe Bryant is doing a solid job of playing the facilitator getting everyone involved as well as chasing triple-doubles in points, rebounds and assists. Consequently the Lakers have developed a nasty habit of surrendering big leads, turning the ball over at an alarming rate and not playing defense for 48 minutes.
The only route to success for the Los Angeles Lakers is to take it one game at a time, control the tempo on offense and make it a half court game, limit their turnovers, communicate on defense. The Lakers play with better energy and more passion. The Lakers need to step up their game in all phases of their defense; transition, half-court, pick-and-roll defense and quickly rotating out to open shooters.
Jeff Little is the host of "The Locker Room" a daily sports talk radio show 6-8 pst www.sportsjourney.com Like the content? You can subscribe here, comment or Follow on twitter @JeffLittle32, Facebook or PinInterest.