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Lowly Bulls beat Lakers...Again

Shaq Goes to the Injured List

Jackson Done in 2004?

Lakers Own Spurs

Lakers Playoff Coverage

NBA.com
Dynamic Duo

Shaq To Miss All-Star Game With Toe Injury

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Lakers Visit The White House

L.A. Times
Shaq Is Back On The Sideline

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O'Neal Rests, All-Star Game Is Up in Air

Shaq Sits Out Game Against Bulls

WHAT THE....

The Lakers just couldn't seem to play up to the level of the Bulls.

Okay, I know the road trip was pretty successful and the Lakers looked poised to end a successful run going into the All-Star break, but then the Bull came to Tinseltown and outplayed the Lakers and the worst team in the NBA completed a season sweep of the two-time reigning world champions. What's the problem you ask? Well, I watched the game from beginning to end and I can pretty much sum up the factors that were the Lakers undoing:

  1. Shaq did not play - This shouldn't be an excuse, but the chemistry of the team was noticeably thrown off by the absence of the big guy. The offense did not flow as smoothly with Shaq gone, with Slava Medvedenko and Samaki Walker starting on the inside. With Robert Horry and Mark Madsen coming off the bench, the Lakers were dominated on the inside on both ends by the Bulls.
  2. Kobe was alone at times - Kobe played an admirable game, scoring 38 points and carrying his team for most of the game. However, the other guys didn't make the open looks that they usually make and forced the load on Kobe's shoulders.
  3. The Bulls were hungry - From the opening tip to the end, the Bull played hard, not good but hard. Between the missed shots and turnovers, the Bulls made the plays that held the Lakers at bay. Did the Lakers see this as a problem? No. For most of the game, the Laker bench was all smiles, thinking they could take the game when they felt like it. The Bulls on the other hand, were determined not to let that happen and the game was indicative of these attitudes. Every time the Lakers made a run or took the lead, the Bull responded with a more emotional run. Eventually, the Lakers did take the Bull seriously and nearly took control of the game, but too much time was wasted in the first 95% of the game to climb out of the hole they dug.

So, does this game make the Lakers a bad team? By all means NO. Is this a serious problem? Not Really. The Supersonics swept the Lakers last season and the Lakers proceeded to dominate the end of the regular season and the playoffs. Nobody really made a big deal about the Supersonics losses after that. So it seems that the Lakers have a different problem every season. Two seasons ago, it was dealing with success. Last season, the Shaq vs. Kobe saga and the Supersonics threw things off a bit. This season, it's last-place teams. If the Lakers step up and take over the league, the losses to the Bulls will be null and void. If they don't, the Bulls losses will pinpoint the root of the Lakers problems. It's really up to them to decide which path they will take.

--Jonathan Tamplin

Pacific Division Standings
Team WLPctGB
Sacramento3712.755-
LA Lakers3313.7172
Portland2523.52111
Seattle2523.52111
Phoenix2424.50012
LA Clippers2526.49013
Golden State1432.30421

video
February 6, 2002:
vs. Chicago(L, 97-89)

Kobe Bryant converts a Samamki Walker block into a high-flying dunk.
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video
February 3, 2002:
vs. Dallas(W, 101-94)

Kobe Bryant makes a nice look inside to Shaquille O'Neal for the easy flush.
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video
January 30, 2002:
vs. Orlando (W, 111-93)

Kobe makes the mean flush on Mike Miller
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