The Los Angeles Lakers have lost a game! The end is nigh. In fact, those who have seen what LA has been doing the past few games should not be surprised about the loss. It was only a matter of time before someone, anyone, good, bad, or atrocious, beat LA. Unfortunately, it was a bad East Conference team that knocked off LA. Fortunately, this loss exposes some problems for LA to deal with. If the Lakers make the right corrections, they will again be able to tangle with elite teams in the NBA.
The problem: Did no one notice that it was Fisher, Kobe, Odom, Turiaf, and Kwame who were most effective on the floor this season? Turiaf and Kwame are both solid to good defenders down low who take pressure off of the other players up front. That means more energy for offense. More energy on offense means fewer people standing around and more people running around, making cuts, and setting screens. That is how the triangle is effective. When the triangle is effective, LA puts up points in bunches, and not just against trashy defensive teams. The poor offense/poor defense feeds into one another and players become dejected, their overall performance suffers.
Now here comes the Kobe factor. When LA is struggling on both sides of the ball, Kobe has to start expending ridiculous energy on offense to get his shots, which he will get, but at the cost of a lot of energy. When his defensive effort isn't there against a guy like Redd, LA can at best tread water and hope for a bad shooting game against them. And we all know what happens to the triangle when Kobe freelances. Only Fisher and Turiaf move around on the court and Turiaf isn't playing.
The Solution: Get Radmanovic out of the starting lineup. Turiaf must start at the PF spot when facing opposing starting lineups. Yes, Vlad is shooting well, but you cannot put a below average defender (Fisher) on the floor with a terrible defender (Vlad), a streaky so-so defender (Odom), and a guy who is giving 100% effort on defense (Kobe) without a defensive anchor and expect that team to defend well.
I am very surprised Phil Jackson has not noticed this problem. Now, maybe Turiaf is still not good to go 25+ minutes per game. If that is the case, I stand corrected. We still cannot put gunners who cannot defend and be suprised that the triangle falls apart, Kobe starts pressing, and the whole team's mentality suffers.
Interestingly, the addition of Ariza should give LA the opportunity to play Vlad at the 4 when Phil wants so long as Ariza goes to the SF spot. If Mihm then goes to the 5 spot, we just have to deal with his suspect D at this point until Kwame returns.