1 Area Every LA Lakers Starter Must Improve Heading into Playoffs

Now it's April and everyone is still waiting for Showtime to return. That falls squarely on the shoulders of L.A.'s superstar starters.

When the Los Angeles Lakers supplemented Kobe Bryant with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the purple and gold seemed destined for the NBA Finals.

But the whole has not been greater than the sum of its parts.

The Lakers stumbled out of the gate and fired their head coach after five games. But once Mike D'Antoni was brought in as the new honcho for a reunion with Nash, it was only a matter of time before the engine would be running on all cylinders. Right?

You could count the number of games left in the season on your fingers, and the Lakers' middling play has them scrapping for the final playoff spot in a dogfight with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks.

And all that would grant is the tall task of facing the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.

The Lakers often appear to be playing to diminished ability rather than lofty reputation.

They have the league's eighth-most efficient offense (as measured by points per 100 possessions), but the 18th-ranked defense. The defensive accolades of Kobe, Dwight and Metta World Peace have not yielded the desired results.

Having lost World Peace for the remainder of the season, the rest of the Lakers starters have to dig deep and come through with their best basketball.

Then the star-studded lineup can play the role of giant slayers in the postseason's opening round.

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