The Los Angeles Lakers were absolutely crushed on Monday night in the opening game of their NBA Playoffs series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It wasn't a good sign for the Lakers -- especially considering the prevailing thought process is that it could get even worse -- but there's a possibility that if just a few of the Lakers' also-rans are able to step up, the series could be even by the time Game 5 rolls around.
One of the ancillary players that will need to step up is Ramon Sessions, the mid-season acquisition that looked amazing when he began his career with the Lakers before settling back down to earth. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, his shortcomings were more of the painfully-yucky sort than the kind the Lakers should have expecting in getting a point guard who has bounced around as much as Sessions has.
Sessions' missteps weren't ignored by the media, either, as both ESPN's Brian Kamenetzky and Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register pointed out the flaws the point guard presented. The worst part about it was that each columnist decided to rail on a different aspect of the struggles Sessions had on Monday night against Russell Westbrook and friends.
Kamenetzky noted that Sessions' offense was what hurt the Lakers the most, causing the rest of the players on the floor to fill in where he should be effective:
This was a killer, in part because 1-for-7 for two points isn't going to get it done, but also because Sessions' ineffectiveness required the Lakers to put Gasol into more of a facilitating role at the top of the key. Fine for making passes, but not ideal because it tends to sap his aggressiveness as a scorer and limit his flexibility in the offense. Sessions was a blend of mediocre-to-bad through most of the Denver series. He simply can't be a non-factor against the Thunder if the Lakers are going to be competitive.
The other side of the coin, as Whicker pointed out, had to do with the defense displayed by Sessions on Monday night.
There was more evidence that Ramon Sessions is exactly what he was when the Lakers got him from Cleveland - a backup point guard, at least on this level. He was supposed to keep point guards from burrowing inside the defense, and he was supposed to beat people downcourt. The Lakers scored zero fast-break points Monday.
The Lakers had no conventional point guard under Phil Jackson. Sessions is a driver and disher, and it's obvious that few of his teammates, if any, know exactly where he's going and what he'll be doing. In the playoffs he is shooting 36.8 percent with 31 assists in eight games.
Sessions probably wouldn't be getting this sort of attention if he were in nearly any other city, but when one plays for the Lakers, they have to step up ... or be prepared to hear about what they're doing wrong. If Sessions doesn't get his game right for the second game of the series, he'll surely be hearing about it once again -- and it will even be worse than what it was on Tuesday morning.