How Los Angeles Lakers Can Survive Season’s Toughest Test

With just nine games left in what could turn out to be the most disappointing season by any team in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers are desperately clinging to life. A mere half-game up on the Utah Jazz for the final Western Conference playoff spot, the injury-riddled Lakers are in full-on survival mode now.

L.A. has lost four of its last five games, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, even its most seemingly invincible hero is a little worse for wear.

Adding to the concern surrounding Kobe Bryant's latest injury is Steve Nash's new ailment, which kept him sidelined for the conclusion of the Lakers' 113-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on March 28.

Oh, and at the risk of piling on, Metta World Peace is also out for the season.

So, with the team's performance in a tailspin and the injuries mounting, how are the Lakers going to survive the toughest test they've faced all season?


They Can't Do It Alone on Defense...

Much of the criticism surrounding the Lakers this season has focused on their perplexing inability to come together as a team. Despite a club full of veterans and two of the league's most unselfish stars in Nash and Pau Gasol, L.A. hasn't established anything resembling consistent chemistry.

On defense, that lack of unity has led to poor rotations and no communication or effort in transition.

Dwight Howard hasn't been right about much this season, but he was spot-on in his postgame analysis on Thursday.

L.A. lacks a single above-average individual defender on the perimeter, which means its help-and-recover rotations have to be precise. When it isn't—and for much of the year, it hasn't been—the Lakers defense hemorrhages points.

To stop the bleeding, Howard and his teammates have got to view their defensive efforts as collective, and not individual....

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