EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Crisis mode descended on Los Angeles Lakers practice Monday, in the form of an oversized media contingent asking a series of questions about Sunday's loss to Boston, and exactly zero about Tuesday night's game with Houston.
The questions painted a dark picture of the state of the Lakers. Given that they're now 1-4 against the four teams ahead of them in the overall standings (the overlooked win being against much overlooked Chicago), why can't they beat the top teams? Why have they already lost as many home games as they did last season? How can the offense get as out of sync as it was in the fourth quarter against the Celtics, when Kobe Bryant took every shot in a six-minute period?
The answers? Not quite so gloomy.
"How many teams have better records than us?" Lamar Odom wondered. Two, he was told. (It's actually four: San Antonio, Boston, and, after Sunday, Chicago and Miami by a half-game.)
"We're not aiming for mediocrity," Odom said, "but if there's two teams that have a better record than us, you're probably in a decent place as a team."
That seemed to be a pretty good assessment of the Lakers' viewpoint. Yes, they'd like to be better, but given that the playoffs are still about 10 weeks away, there's not really a need to panic.
"It's probably more of a disappointment to me that we haven't taken care of the teams we're supposed to take care of," Phil Jackson said, referring to the losses to lower-echelon teams like Sacramento. "Those games (against the top teams) are going to even out. At some point, they'll even out, and then you get into the playoffs and try to win the games against the good teams that are left, and the rest are going to go home.
"The ones against the teams that are going to go home, you've got to win."
Pau Gasol was asked where he ranked the current situation on his personal "crisis meter," from one to 10. He smiled at the question.
"I've never had a crisis meter," he said. "Obviously, we're not going through our best time. ... But luckily for us, it's halfway, more or less, of the season. So we still have time to make up for the losses we have.
"But we have to step it up."