At what point can we, and more importantly the media, just put the fascination with the Los Angeles Lakers to bed? It’s a rhetorical question for sure since I already know the answer. The Lakers could drop their next 12 games and the media spotlight would still shine brightly on them in the hopes that they could still, possibly make the playoffs.
Tuesday night the Lakers went into an arguably difficult game in Oklahoma City with a 30-30 record on the season. A win would not be easy, but a chance to get over .500 since they were 6-5 on the season should have been sound motivation.
As you know by now, the Thunder put it on them early and often in a 122-105 win that was not nearly as close as the final score. The easy thing to observe and process from this game is that the Lakers just cannot hang with younger, more athletic teams.
The loss dropped LA to three and a half games behind eighth seed Utah in the Western Conference playoff chase. With 21 games remaining, 3.5 games is not exactly ‘easy to make up.’ LA will more than likely need help in the way of teams like Portland, the Jazz, Houston and Golden State losing more than winning down the stretch.
The Trail Blazers have climbed to just a game behind the Lakers and the two will hook up in the fifth to last game of the season. Houston and LA will play the season finale in the Staples Center in April in a game that could decide a final playoff spot.
The Lakers have to get more production from Dwight Howard first and foremost. 16 rebounds is impressive but a 7-footer should not be held to just six points in any game let alone one without a true big man. No offense Serge Ibaka.
Kobe led the team with 30 and Steve Nash followed with 20 but this team’s true demise was at the defensive end. Any time you score 105 points you’re going to win far more than you lose but not when you give up 122.
Many experts still believe the Lakers will make the post-season. Here’s one reason I’m betting against that; take a look at their schedule and you’ll find that they have 12 of their final 21 on the road. Currently the Lakers are 10-20 away from Staples so that record would keep me from wagering anything on them in terms of going to the playoffs.
Notes from around the league… The Thunder’s Ibaka received a fine and no suspension for his ‘groin smash’ of Blake Griffin. Dwyane Wade did the same thing last year, but was fined and suspended… The Heat have now won 15 straight and some are wondering if they can get to the record of 33 in a row. Don’t bet on it… If the playoffs started today, what a match-up you’d have out West in the 7-2 series. Houston and OKC would play in a series where the scoreboard might not be safe.
Games to Wager on this week.
Oklahoma City at New York – Did the Thunder find their groove again with the win over LA? Won’t matter because ‘Melo isn’t 100% anyone. Take the Thunder.
LA Clippers at Denver – These two could possibly meet in a first or second round match-up in the playoffs. The Nuggets are really good at home, but the Clips sense blood in the water with Tony Parker out in SA. Take the Clippers.
Toronto at LA Lakers – The Raptors stunned the Lakers when they played in Canada. That won’t happen here as the Lakers need wins and play better at home than on the road. Go with LA.