The Los Angeles Lakers dropped their 16th game of the season last night against the Philadelphia 76ers, falling back under the .500 mark where they’ve remained for much of the season.After the game, Kobe Bryant said he felt the Lakers were lacking energy. He was asked why he thought that was the case, and as he so often does he delivered one of his candid, off-the-cuff responses. (via The Los Angeles Times):
“Because we’re old as sh*t,” Bryant said. “What do you want? We just have to figure out how to play when we don’t have that energy. We have to change things up a little bit defensively, we have to figure out what we want to do offensively, we have to figure out what we want to do on nights we don’t have those legs or have that energy.”
It’s hard to refute that logic. The Lakers are the fourth-oldest team in the NBA with the an average age of more than 28 years old.
The Knicks are having success with the oldest roster in NBA history, but their most important pieces are still in the prime of their careers. Same goes for the Miami Heat, who also have an older mean age.
The Lakers, in comparison, rely heavily on Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol to produce, and all four of those players are past 32. Two of them, Nash and Gasol, have been sidelined extensively with injuries in the early portion of the season.
The Lakers have been sluggish on the defensive end of the ball, particularly in transition, yielding the sixth-most points (100.3) per game in the league. It’s 4.4 more points per game than the Lakers gave up a season ago.
Dwight Howard, who was expected to make up for those players’ declines, hasn’t been himself this season averaging his lowest number of points per game (17.3) since his second year in the league. His rebounding total is the lowest since his rookie season.
The Lakers are far from playing their best basketball, with several of their main players struggling and still adapting to a new system. How age plays in those struggles is hard to discern, but we’re with Kobe in believing it has had at least some effect. And if they have the legs to run Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offence will be important moving forward.
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