The Lakers were crowned by many as champions back in August after their impressive summer haul. As the season has played out, they've shown that's probably the only banner they're going to raise this season.
But that hasn't stopped them from breaking team huddles with "Championship!"
Something that coach Mike D'Antoni called "laughable" after his team blew an 18-point lead at home to the Washington Wizards. Via video from Lakers.com:
“This is a good team that just for whatever reason can't collectively, mentally, get stimulated to do it every time. And I told them, we put our hands in (the huddle), and you've guys have probably seen it, we say ‘Championship!' and go out. That's laughable. Championship? You gotta be kidding me.
“Until they understand the importance of every possession offensively and defensively, and every time, they gotta come out with some kind of determination to be a good basketball team, then we're just fooling ourselves. And right now, that's what we're doing. We're making a sham-mockery of it, or whatever that is.”
The Lakers, who still reside in the eight-spot in the West, are 36-34 and have played leaps and bounds better the past month. But losing at home to the Wizards when leading by 18 isn't something that looks good for a team trying to right itself and not only get into the playoffs, but do something.
D'Antoni, though, was visibly frustrated and basically completely flabbergasted by the Lakers' lack of effort. He didn't hold back in scolding his team as he clearly has just had enough.
“If we don't change that, well, obviously we won't make the playoffs," D'Antoni said. "But even if we do, then we'll get blown out in the playoffs. You can't be a fairly good team without passing the basketball and without understanding what we're doing defensively and honing in and doing it. You can't do it. You can't do it. It's impossible.”
The unfortunate thing for the Lakers Friday is that they got back the services of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, putting them at full strength for the first time in weeks. Didn't matter, though, as the Wizards roughed up lazy Laker defensive rotations the entire second half.
D'Antoni didn't hold back on his team and even said that if it doesn't do something different, it'll get rolled out of the postseason. Which is a far cry from the message Bryant has been sending that the Lakers will be dangerous if they can just get in.
Currently, the Lakers are 1 1/2 games up on the Jazz, but really, that's more like a half-game because Utah owns the tiebreaker. The Lakers should be able to get into the playoffs by default of the Jazz imploding. But like D'Antoni said, if they don't change, it'll be a short-lived trip anyway.