No longer underdogs, Lakers must learn to play like bullies when necessary

LOS ANGELES — In the opening stages of LeBron James’ Los Angeles adventure, the Lakers' problem was that they weren't yet good enough.

That got fixed, but now there is a new issue. They're not ruthless enough.

Having turned around their campaign by adopting the mentality of a scrappy underdog, James and the Lakers no longer have that luxury. Now sitting at 11-8, even after a disappointing 108-104 home defeat to the Orlando Magic on Sunday, Los Angeles will go into most of its games, especially those at Staples Center, as the favorite.

With James having gotten used to his new teammates — and them to him — perhaps more quickly than looked likely following a dismal 0-3 (and 2-5) start, the Lakers will sometimes be presented with opportunities to dominate games in the way that serious contenders can and should.

That's what happened against Orlando, but instead of building upon an early lead and grinding the Magic down, the Lakers got sloppy and complacent and showed they don't yet know how to be a bully.

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