Basketball / Sports

Lakers again have no defense for this loss to Bobcats

LOS ANGELES--Missed open shots. Defensive breakdowns. Outworked on the boards. Give up 100-plus points. Rinse and repeat.

The Los Angeles Lakers losses are starting to meld together, undistinguishable from one to another, and Friday's 110-100 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats wasn't any different.

The Lakers (16-31) made many of the same mistakes that have caused them lose 18 of their past 21 games and tumble to the bottom of the Western Conference.

For starters, they gave up 64 points in the paint, a troubling habit. Then there was Bobcats center Al Jefferson, who became the 21st player to score a season high in points against the Lakers. He posted a double-double of 40 points and 18 rebounds.

Gerald Henderson threw in another 20 points for the Bobcats (21-27) and Ramon Sessions had 13 assists to go with his nine points.

Asked what his defensive strategy was on Jefferson, Coach Mike D'Antoni quipped, "To hold him under 50."

A sense of humor might be the one thing that gets the Lakers through the second half of the season if they can't beat even the lower-tier teams.

"We were lifeless (in the first half)," D'Antoni said. "We got down and didn't really shoot the ball well enough in the second half to get over the hump."

Charlotte led, 62-49, by halftime and the lead swelled to 20 before the Lakers staged a mini-run late in the third.

The Lakers couldn't even count on point guard Kendall Marshall to pull them out of their offensive funk. Marshall, who had been averaging a league-best 47.5 percent from the 3-point line, failed to connect on any long-distance shots and finished with 10 points.

Nick Young also struggled from the field (8 of 22) but managed to finish with 21 points.

Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 24 points and nine rebounds, despite a nagging groin injury. He is scheduled to have an MRI Saturday.

"They weren't ready to play for whatever reason -- the end of January, who knows," D'Antoni said. "It's not an excuse, we can't do that and we did that. We have to learn from it quick or else it's going to be a long season.

"(It) already is, but it can be ugly."

Meeks seeks 3-point invite

Jodie Meeks wants to compete in the 3-Point Shootout during the All-Star Game weekend in New Orleans.

He really wants to showcase his skills from beyond the arc on the NBA's biggest stage. He has the credentials, too.

The Lakers guard ranks 20th in the NBA at 41 percent, having made 103 of 251 attempts this season, a career-high for the fourth-year shooting guard. Meeks is also averaging a career-high 14.6 points a game.

So far, though, his phone has remained silent.

"No, I haven't heard anything," Meeks said Friday. "It would be fun, but there's nothing I can do."

Meeks is too quiet to make any noise and too polite to come right out and lobby for a spot in the field that will be announced next week. So he waits.

"Obviously it would be some good exposure for the organization and myself to have somebody in it," he said. "And I feel confident that I could win it, so we'll see what happens.

"I feel I'm good enough to do it. If not, I'll get some rest during All-Star break. It's a win-win for me."

It wouldn't be the first time Meeks has been overlooked in the 3-Point Shootout. Two years ago when he was with Philadelphia, Meeks had made 58 of 134 from 3-point range for 43.3 percent --a better percentage than five of the six participants.

Gasol forgotten, too

Pau Gasol wasn't invited to the All-Star Game despite averaging 16.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Coach Mike D'Antoni believes the Lakers' losing record probably had something to do with it.

"He's played at an All-Star level," D'Antoni said, "but when you're not in the top eight, top nine ... I'm a firm believer that numbers don't mean a whole lot if you're not winning.

"You have to be very careful about putting somebody in the All-Star Game that doesn't have it, unless you're in the East probably. But if you don't have a winning record it's really tough to get in there. He's had All-Star numbers, but he didn't all year. He has had them in the last couple months ... it makes it tough."

Gasol is a four-time All-Star but hasn't made the team since 2011.

Marshall's future

The Lakers are close to getting Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake back from an assortment of injuries, suddenly giving the team too many point guards. So what happens to Kendall Marshall, who has started 14 of the 18 games he has appeared in?

D'Antoni said the rookie will continue to see minutes, possibly even hang on to the starting job for the immediate future. Marshall is averaging 10.5 points and 9.5 assists. He is shooting a league-best 47.3 percent from the 3-point range, although he hasn't played in enough games for his percentage to count in the NBA statistical rankings.

"It's something we'll talk to the coaches and go through, but I don't think it's automatic (one of the others will start)," D'Antoni said.

"He's going to play. We want to develop as much talent as we can, test the ceilings of guys and see where they can get to, and Kendall is one of those guys. He won't be forgotten."

Jackson done coaching

Phil Jackson put to rest any notion in an televised interview this week that he will return to coaching. Sort of.

In an interview that aired on NBA TV, the former Lakers coach said that physically he is not up to the rigors of coaching any longer.

"Physically I have to reconcile the fact that I'm in a position where after five operations in three years, four years (coaching would be hard)," said Jackson, 68. "Recovering from operations is difficult enough. When you're a kid you can do it relatively easily as we did when we were players, but at my age it takes a little bit more to recover from it and then health becomes the priority.

"Traveling, late nights, being up and down the court, which is really something that's important to me as a coach -- I coached my last year from a bench at midcourt because I couldn't get up and down the court and I knew it was time to leave. So, there's some of the reasons why I sit here and say I have no intention of coaching."

Jackson, though, left the door slightly ajar saying, "But who knows? Maybe I'll have regenerative tissue that will get me back at it."

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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