Los Angeles Lakers: Proper Focus and a Healthy Andrew Bynum Will Seal a Repeat

Anyone who truly follows NBA basketball knows the regular season is a poor indicator of how a team will perform in the postseason, and there are many variables that usually determine a team's playoff fate.

One of these variables is experience and another one is focus, and in the case of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, the latter has been hard to grasp in the final stages of the regular season.

The Lakers will likely finish with the best record in the West, but they have a decided limp in their gait, as they have lost four of their last five games, and hardly resemble a team fighting to defend their title.

Some of their issues center around yet another injury to Andrew Bynum, but most of their concerns stem from a perceived lack of passion, and a failure to focus on the task at hand.

But is that really the case, or have the Lakers just become bored with a tedious, extremely long regular season, and are just biding their time until the postseason begins?

There are merits in that line of thought because Los Angeles has been accused of the same thing in the past, and they are notorious for adapting the same laid-back manner as their coach, Phil Jackson.

In 2002, the Lakers' final championship year with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, the team went through a similar phase where it seemed unlikely they would win a third consecutive championship, but they were able to find motivation at the end of the season.

That team very much resembled this year's edition, especially when considering both seemed to lack a sense of urgency and were on a downswing heading into the postseason.

But the Lakers were able to prevail in 2002 because of their experience, a big shot by Robert Horry in the Western Conference Finals, and some suspect officiating in that same series.

The end justifies the means, however, and the 2002 Lakers proved they were capable ...

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