Can the Los Angeles Lakers Be Fixed?

It's time for the Los Angeles Lakers to push the panic button, right? At 9-13, they're done? With losses to the Sacramento Kings, the Orlando Magic, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets, this team should just give up?

Maybe...if it were March or April rather than mid-December. The Lakers still have two healthy-ish All-Stars (Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard), two others on the mend (Steve Nash and Pau Gasol), a coach (Mike D'Antoni) who—despite the avalanche of criticism under which he's already been buried—doesn't need Stuart Smalley to remind him of his own qualifications for the job...yet.

And, most importantly, they have time to figure things out—60 games-worth to be exact.

To be sure, there are plenty of potentially fatal flaws that run deep through this squad and may ultimately be beyond repair in the immediate term. The Lakers' primary perimeter players are all intelligent guys with impressive resumes, but none can be considered anything close to an elite defender in the here and now.

Nash's return doesn't figure to make the Kyrie Irvings, the Russell Westbrooks and the Chris Pauls of the NBA any easier to slow down.

LA's inability to contain guards and wings (and not just the superfreak athletes among them) has placed tremendous pressure on their bigs to carry the load defensively. The fact that Howard still isn't fully recovered from back surgery, Gasol's knees are worn out and Antawn Jamison has been asked to play big minutes has made relying on the front line to erase those mistakes something of a fool's errand.

According to Team Rankings, the Lakers are 23rd in the league with 42.8 points in the paint allowed per game, despite their tremendous size.

Throw in their inability to force turnovers, their lackadaisical approach against the fastbreak and the general absence of camaraderie, communication and trust among a revamped roster, ...

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