The One Massive Problem with LA Lakers That Kobe Bryant’s Return Won’t Fix

The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling, and there seems to be some sort of underlying belief that everything will magically get better when Kobe Bryant returns to the lineup.

Whenever that may be. 

Nov. 15 or not, Kobe's arrival is not going to be a panacea for the Lakers' maladies. There's too much going wrong on the defensive end of the court, and that won't be easy for him to fix. Failure to stop penetration—and points, for that matter—has derailed the early portion of the Lake Show's underdog campaign, and it's starting to overshadow the positive developments. 

Right now, there must be something in the water at the Staples Center. 

After all, the two teams allowing the most points per game in the NBA both call that arena home. The Los Angeles Clippers boast the highest mark at 112.5, and the Lakers aren't far behind at 109. If you look carefully, you can see smoke rising from the jerseys of every player who steps onto the court while sporting an away uniform. 

Once adjusted for pace, things aren't much better. 

According to Basketball-Reference, the Lakers are allowing 108.3 points per 100 possessions, which is the No. 26 rate in the league. This would be at least manageable if the offense were operating at a high level, but the Lakers have been outscored by just over eight points per 100 possessions, so you can throw that potentially optimistic view out the window.

Everything came to a head against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 5, when the Lakers just completely forgot that they were supposed to slow down the other team.

In the 123-104 victory, Dallas shot 52.1 percent from the field and made 13 of their 27 three-point attempts, prompting Mike D'Antoni to tell the Associated Press (h/t ESPN) after the game that "we (the Lakers) don't come out with the same grit and determination."

As M...

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