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The 7 - Basketball - The Lakers: do they suck without Shaq?
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#1 Posted on 11.11.02 0317.53
Reposted on: 11.11.09 0319.36
[Many thanks to for helping me with accurate statistical analysis! This post, however, is not plagarized from their site, but is completely original. Although the ideas expressed in this post are probably being thought by many people right now.]

The three-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, playing without injured former MVP Shaquille O'Neal, have now lost three games in a row to teams in the supposedly “weaker” Eastern Conference.

The freefall began on Tuesday, November 5, when the Cleveland Cavaliers (expected by many to challenge for the #1 overall draft pick) cleaned the floor with the Lakers, 89-70. It was a night in which Lakers star Kobe Bryant was outscored by Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ricky Davis. It was a night in which the Lakers were held to their lowest point total ever since moving to Los Angeles from Minneapolis before many of us were even born. And the Lakers lost to 19 to one of the worst teams in the league, despite the fact that Bryant was only one assist shy of a triple-double.

On Thursday, Kobe did a good thing by being more selfish (when have you ever heard that?) as he scored 41 points against the Celtics. But the next highest Lakers scorer was Devean George of all people, and he only contributed 11 points. To add to the Lakers' collapse, Kobe was wildly inconsistent throughout the night. He shot 4-of-15 in the first half, scored 18 points in the third quarter and went on to miss 10 consecutive field goal attempts during crunch time. He finished 17-of-47 on the night. I can't remember the last time someone's attempted that many shots in a game, even with an overtime period tacked on. Then again, I haven't been paying close attention to field goal attempt statistics.

Yes, Kobe is the Lakers' best player without Shaq in the lineup, but surely another Laker should be able to score more than 11 points, right? Alas, it was not to be for L.A., and they were defeated in overtime, 98-95, by a somewhat more balanced Celtics offensive attack. Paul Pierce scored 28 and Tony Delk-- TONY DELK-- 26, for a total of 54 points between the two, slightly lower than 60% of the Celtics' total offense. Kobe, on the other hand, scored just slightly lower than 50% of the Lakers' points by himself.

Then there was Friday's game against the Wizards. Another game that the Lakers should have, theoretically, won decisively. Another game that the Lakers lost despite 27 points from Bryant and 20 from Brian Shaw. The final play of the game helped expose the fact that outside of Shaq, no Laker seems to be able to play interior defense. How else do you explain Jerry Stackhouse getting a dunk with 0.2 seconds remaining in the game? Normally, when you see game-winning shots, they're from 15 or 23 feet away. On this occasion, Stackhouse managed to get all the way inside and dunk the ball for the win! You can rest assured that were Shaq in the game, Stackhouse's attempt would have been blocked into level 2, row 24, section A, seat 170.

So... three consecutive losses for the Lakers, including one blowout loss to the bloody Cavaliers. Why are the three-time defending NBA Champions reeling so much from the loss of just one player, and whose fault is it?

I think some of the blame has to go to Lakers' general manager Mitch Kupchak. With the exception of drafting Kareem Rush and signing Lamond Murray, Kupchak literally stood pat throughout the entire offseason, while so many other teams got better. Have the times passed Kupchak by? Will Shaq and Kobe be able to lead this team back to another championship, despite the fact that the other Lakers are looking worse, top to bottom, than any Laker team since they began their domination of the NBA? Or could Shaq and Kobe lead a team of elementary-school players to a .500 season?

Can the Lakers get past the Kings when no one other than Kobe (and presumably Shaq when he returns) seems to be able to get any sort of scoring going? And when Shaq finally decides to hang them up (and presumably hang his No. 34 in the rafters of Staples Center), what are the Lakers gonna do?

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#2 Posted on 11.11.02 0702.37
Reposted on: 11.11.09 0703.56
The Lakers signed Tracy Murray, not Lamond Murray.

Yes, they do suck without Shaq.
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#3 Posted on 11.11.02 1226.33
Reposted on: 11.11.09 1229.05
As Craig Kilborn put it so well, "I'd love to see how many championships Kobe will win when Shaq retires (makes a zero with his fingers)."
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#4 Posted on 11.11.02 1505.17
Reposted on: 11.11.09 1506.21
Its tough to see what the Lakers could add when they are way past the salary cap and are drafting at the end of each round.
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#5 Posted on 11.11.02 1921.05
Reposted on: 11.11.09 1924.34
All Kobe has done is cement in my mind the belief that he is just a slightly above average player. All flash, no substance, no leadership.

But when Shaq comes back they become the best team in the league once again.

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#6 Posted on 13.11.02 0150.49
Reposted on: 13.11.09 0158.05
Lakers Extend Losing Streak to Four Games; Lose at Home 95-83 to Atlanta

The Lakers' woes continue. Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Jason Terry contributed 21 points as the Atlanta Hawks defeated the L.A. Lakers at Staples Center, 95-83.

The Lakers were playing without Shaquille O'Neal, of course, but they also played without Devean George (sore ankles) and Soumaile Samake (suspended for five games for violating the league's steroids policy).

Since Shaquille O'Neal joined the Lakers in 1996, the Lakers have gone a lackluster 46-42 in the regular-season games they've played without him.

The Lakers' losing streak is the worst in seven-and-a-half years, and they are off to their worst start through eight games since the 1966-67 season (in which they finished 36-45 in an 81-game schedule).

Well... I daresay the streak ought to end with a victory ove Golden State on Friday. No way the Lakers lose to the Warriors...

...right? After all, they did lose, badly, to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

I'm sure the Lakers' early-season struggles have brought an end to the “who's better-- Shaq or Kobe?” question once and for all. If I was a general manager, I'd go after Shaq before anyone else.
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