x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

No reason to worry about the Lakers yet

The Lakers have won only three of their past eight games. Have no fear, purple-and-gold lovers, there is no need to despair.

It's the end of the world as we know it, and the Los Angeles Lakers feel fine? Yes, strangely, it is true. Panic is absent in Lakerland, not that they are giddy these days. What they have been doing is losing, or at least losing more often than a "three-peat" candidate ought to.

The Lakers have won only three of their past eight games.

On the road this season, they are an uninspiring 6-5. Your two-time defending NBA champions look like a team that can be had, particularly with the 19-3 San Antonio Spurs and 19-4 Dallas Mavericks off to impressive starts.

Have no fear, purple-and-gold lovers, there is no need to despair.

Nothing is fundamentally wrong with the Lakers. Just because they are not playing like the best team in the NBA does not mean they are not the best team in the NBA. Clearly, they miss their two injured big men, the centres Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff. Both are expected back shortly.

The Lakers' biggest problem is mental, not physical, that great enemy of champions early in a long season: boredom.

They know, perhaps too well for their own good, that NBA titles are not won in December. This is a veteran team that comes alive in the post-season. The Lakers were 4-7 in their final 11 regular-season games last season and I foresaw doom. Learned that lesson.

Phil Jackson, the Lakers coach, conceded to some concern over the team's recent play, before adding: "But I'm not going to lose any sleep over it." Nor should anyone else. Check back when the play-offs begin in April.