21 Turnovers. 20 missed free-throws. 2-point loss.
To spectators, 17 missed foul shots wouldn't have been too much to foil a Lakers win (7-8) over the wounded Indiana Pacers (7-8), who were still without their go-to scorer, Danny Granger.
But those numbers don't even come close to what the Lakers are really having trouble with these days.
Yes, 3 more free-throws would've sealed the deal for the purple and gold, albeit an ugly game. However, let's not forget the reasons why the team acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and fired Mike Brown before we all even said our annual thanks and feasted on turkeys last Thursday.
The Lakers are supposed to contend for the title. But their heads are somewhere else.
Don't put the blame on the front office for not hiring Phil Jackson. They've done their diligence within their financial capabilities to put together a team that can win the championship this season and build for the future. Phil, for all the happy memories he gave the team and its fans, is simply no longer very interested in coaching. His unwillingness to say yes at the end of that meeting with the decision-makers alone is conclusive proof.
You can say he's moved on. But the Lakers? They can't seem to get away from all of the confusion in terms of what's needed out of them mentally night in and night out.
They couldn't have played better as a unit in Dallas last Saturday. They were playing suffocating defense. The bench were involved. And the offense was flowing in every angle. No doubt, they were focused and even kept pouring it on regardless of everything the Mavericks did to push them off of their backs.
It isn't because Mike D'Antoni gave them a heckuva speech in the locker room. It's because the players got tired of hearing the same excuses that came out of their mouths for each post-game interview they did in Sacramento and Memphis. At least for 48 minutes, that is.
That's been the key for them all season long.
The Lakers made a lot of people believe that the Princeton offense prevented them from playing the game the way they needed it to. Well, Brown is gone. Yet, we're still seeing the same storyline about being fatigue, coming up short on the defensive end, bad passes and not being on the same page offensively.
Look, if Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace were prepared to play the Pacers, why aren't the rest of their teammates?
They now have a coach that promote shooting all around without the use of any gimmicks. D'Antoni has instilled a sense of freedom in his offense to help them incorporate the same gusto they have on offense into everything else.
But that doesn't seem to be enough motivation.
One would think that a team this talented and, better yet, this intelligent will have the capacity to learn from the 8 losses they've suffered. Or at the very least, have the conscious effort to play the game to win.
Granted they played solid defense against Indiana for the most part of the game, the slight confusion on that monumental last play sums up the big question for them right now.
Will the Lakers ever get it?