The Los Angeles Lakers Find New Ways to Lose and New Questions to Answer

The fact that the Los Angeles Lakers lost a home game to the Portland Trail Blazers minus the second half services of Brandon Roy is bad enough, but the manner in which they ended the game has to be concerning for Laker fans.

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, the two most decorated members of the Lakers' roster, missed three out of four free throws in the final seconds, and with the game tied, they converged on Martell Webster to create a foul from the three-point line.

Webster drained all three foul shots. Pau Gasol somehow wound up taking the last shot, an errant three-pointer, and the Lakers lost the game, thus creating even more questions at a time when the focus should be clear.

The Los Angeles Lakers hardly look like the defending NBA champions. Their failure to pay attention to the little details is something that must be corrected if they want to have any chance at repeating their title run of 2009.

The glaring flaws, like an inability to defend the point guard position and a weak reserve unit are one thing, but all-around defensive lapses and missing crucial free throws in pressure situations are related to concentration.

And concentration is the one element the Lakers should have already mastered, because with their other flaws exposed, a failure to focus could lead to early postseason disaster.

This is not the same Lakers team from last year, but it has more to do with an injury to Bryant than a drop-off in talent. And Kobe's broken finger looms as an imposing obstacle once the playoffs begin.

It's clear that Bryant's finger is affecting his shot, and his struggles at the end of the regular season stand as a testament to that. He needs to find a way to adjust his game and still remain relevant to his team.

If that means passing up shot attempts and acting as a decoy, then so be it. Because the ultimate goal is a championship, and the Lakers have...

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