Kobe Bryant: Are L.A. Lakers Fans In Denial About Their Struggles?

About midway through the Christmas Day match-up between the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat play-by-play announcer Jeff Van Gundy made any interesting observation with the Heat up by 16.

"This is not a case of the Lakers taking the game lightly and not competing," Van Gundy said. "They are being out-defended and outplayed by a terrific Miami Heat team."

He must have known what the headlines in L.A. and ESPN were going to look like: "Lakers play terrible, fail to play to the best of their abilities and allow the Heat to win."

That's right. The Lakers have lost nine games this season so far and none can be attributed to them because they "didn't play their best." Couldn't nearly any team in the league make that excuse?

And staying in step with this theme, Jon Berry, ESPN's official "Lakers struggles denier" said after the game: "There is no excuse for the Lakers to be out rebounded by the Heat!" Apparently, Berry feels as though only those over 7 feet and wearing a gold jersey should be able to secure rebounds in any given game.

Berry didn't even want to give the Heat any credit for their play in the first half when they lead by nine: "When I look at the Heat right now I'm thinking: They have no points from the point guard and center positions, and that will not get it done in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers." Indeed.

But, while I will acknowledge that the game will not curb the amount of doubt surrounding the Heat, nor will it quiet the perception that the Lakers are "fine they just need to play better." I must admit that I've seen their struggles brewing for a while now, even when they started the season 8-0 with the spirited play of Pau Gasol.

Scoring 112 ppg and shooting over 50 percent as a team, I questioned whether their plan to "outscore opponents" rather than defend them would work when their offense was not clicking and they faced more defensive -minded adversaries.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers