Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson: Who to Blame for Lakers’ Early Struggles?

The Los Angeles Lakers headed into the the All-Star Break this year at 38-19. Not quite the record they were hoping for. 

This was supposed to be the powerhouse team looking for its third straight championship. Just like last year, the Lakers were expected to cruise through the Western Conference and be one of the favorites to win the title again this summer. 

This year has not gone how any of the Lakers expected though. Kobe has struggled with his shot, Pau has seemed to be tired all season and Andrew Bynum missed much of the first half while recovering from knee surgery in the off-season.

Now, everything has changed at the drop of a hat. They just pulled in another tough win over the Orlando Magic the other night and look to be in championship form.

The Lakers outscored the Magic 56 to 38 in the second half. They shot 53.7 percent from the field while dominating the defensive end. They simply looked like a team determined to win while the Magic looked like a team that couldn't figure out what was going on.

If you happened to catch the 2009 NBA Finals, you've probably seen this before.

The Lakers success after the All-Star break, winning 10 of their last 11 games, has seen them dominate both ends of the court. They have held the opponent to under 40 percent from the field in six of those games and under 90 points in seven of them. 

With all this success that we now know is possible, who was to blame for the Lakers early season struggles?

Phil Jackson? Kobe Bryant? Pau Gasol?

I don't think the blame can be on any of them.

Bryant has been struggling this season to play through injuries and ineffectiveness and continued to do so against the Magic. Bryant scored only 16 points because by the time he got a little confidence in his sprained ankle in the second half, the other Lakers had already taken care of ...

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