L.A. Lakers Can Only Come Together with Brutal Honesty

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni resorted to some brutal—if not overly dramatic and somewhat misdirected—honesty after his team's embarrassing loss to the Washington Wizards on March 22, and even though the tirade came off like some kind of desperate spectacle, a little bit of frank talk might be the only way for the Lakers to finally come together.

After all, they've tried just about everything else.

Lineup tinkering didn't work. Neither did shifting Kobe Bryant into the role of the facilitator, while taking Steve Nash away from the ball.

Sure, some of the tweaks have shown temporary benefits. But the Lakers now seem to be right back where they started: losing games they shouldn't and searching for answers.

The reasons for L.A.'s cyclical rises and falls this season are pretty simple, and D'Antoni pegged them in his over-the-top rant: L.A doesn't defend with purpose and Bryant's penchant for "Hero Ball" keeps cropping up at the worst times.

Per Dave McMenamin of ESPN, D'Antoni said:

What happened was we didn't play hard enough. We think we can just figure stuff out. Trevor Ariza's got 12 attempts at 3s and he's wide open. That's inexcusable. It's just a matter of lapses or gambling or, 'I'm not going to play hard tonight because we'll just outscore them.' That why we dug ourselves a hole in the first part of the year and now we're digging it again.

Taking the Wizards game as an example, it's abundantly clear that those two issues are at the heart of the Lakers' latest disappointing stretch.

Rotations were late or nonexistent, opposing three-point shooters were often ignored and, in one-on-one situations, the Lakers played without any fight at all. And that was just on defense.

Bryant's 4-of-10 performance in the final period marked a notable shift from the team's dominant offensive performance in the first quarter. L.A. piled up ...

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