Despite the presence of superstars such as Kobe Bryant, it is clear the Lakers have some major defensive deficiencies. Photo: Getty Images
If any LA Lakers fans still think their team will win the NBA championship this season then they should think again.
I watched the Lakers in their 101-100 win over the luckless and sloppy Charlotte Bobcats at Staples Centre on Tuesday night, and it's clear they have some major defensive deficiencies and cannot consistently get the ball into the right places and right players at the right time.
Yes, the Lakers have four legitimate superstars in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash but, outside of veteran defender Ron Artest, the rest of the Lakers roster looks unable to provide the impact needed to win in the playoffs.
The Lakers are struggling to defend and rebound, despite featuring three of the world's best defenders in Bryant, Howard and Artest, plus two elite rebounders in Howard and Gasol.
Therein lies the problem for the Lakers: while some players are excelling, the team as a whole is not producing.
The match against the Bobcats was a prime example, as the visitors, despite being on an 11-game losing streak, won the rebound count, scored 100 points and had four scorers pass double figures, led by the relentless Kemba Walker's 28 points.
If either Walker's contested lay-up or Gerald Henderson's open put-back had gone in during the final play of the match, the Bobcats would have left LA with a win and new Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni would have faced more questions about his troubled side.
One thing that stood out against the Bobcats was the Lakers' unwillingness to finish plays on defence. Time after time someone would miss a box out or fail to make a defensive rotation or close out on a shooter.
Bobcats forward Byron Mullens got eight of his 10 first-quarter points from these failings and he missed a few more open shots in the second half, showing the Lakers hadn't improved their defence.
NBA commentators are a little gun shy after the Miami Heat overcame their problems to win last season's title, but I believe the Lakers' problems are much further entrenched, a view many Lakers fans share judging from the boos that rang out in the third quarter of the match.
Even with Nash to return, the Lakers need precious time to solve their woes, but with a quarter of the season already gone, time is the one resource they don't have.
If the NBA title is to return to LA this season, the only hope is with the LA Clippers.