The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off a mildly successful 7 game road trip where they went 4 and 3. The losses to a very hot Boston Celtics team that came in on a 5 game winning streak at the time and the defending champions Miami Heat were seen as unlikely spots to pick up wins for the Lakers on this road trip. The one definite disappointment was at the start of the road trip where the Lakers blew a 13 point lead in the 4th quarter to the lowly Phoenix Suns, losing 92-86. If not for that loss we could all agree that a 5 and 2 trip would have been fantastic for the Lakers.
The Lakers are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff seeding. The Lakers are 10th in the Western Conference, 3 and a half games behind the 8th place Houston Rockets. There are 30 games remaining in the Lakers season and time is starting to run out for them to make a run at the playoffs. The Lakers have 7 games remaining in February and 8 games before they have to face another one of the elite teams in the league at their arena, the Oklahoma City Thunder, on March 5th. It is these next 8 games that are vital for the Lakers to build momentum in order to make a realistic run at the playoffs. After their game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 3rd, the Lakers will be on the road for 10 of the remaining 14 games in March. While the majority of the competition in those 14 games are teams currently out of the playoff picture, with the way the Lakers have played this year, there are no easy wins that we can project for the Lakers the rest of the way.
The Lakers next 8 games: (home teams in bold)
1. Tuesday, February 12, 2013: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers
Series tied 1-1
11/16 Lakers over Suns, 114-102
01/30 Suns over Lakers, 92-86
- The Lakers get a chance to redeem themselves after they blew their last game against the Suns where they led nearly the entire game until the 4th quarter where they gave away a 13 point lead in the quarter to ultimately lose to the Suns by 6 points. Michael Beasley killed the Lakers off the bench with 27 points in that game. The Suns are currently dead last in the Western Conference after having lost 3 games in a row. This is an absolute must win for the Lakers in this stretch.
2. Thursday, February 14, 2013: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers
Clippers 2-0 vs. Lakers this season.
11/02 Clippers over Lakers, 105-95
01/04 Clippers over Lakers, 107-102
The Lakers have not been able to solve the Clippers puzzle so far this season, having lost both match ups against their cross locker room rivals. The Lakers were able to put up a little bit more of a fight in their last match up on January 4th when the Clippers were without much of the main players in their rotation; Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups. The Lakers will not be as fortunate this time around as all of the aforementioned players are back, along with Chris Paul who had missed 9 games before returning on February 8th to play the Miami Heat. Based on what we have seen from the Lakers this season, it is going to be tough to pick up a win with a completely healthy Clippers squad.
******All Star Break 2/15-2/17 ******
3. Wednesday, February 20, 2013: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers
Boston 1-0 vs. Lakers this season
02/07 Celtics over Lakers, 116-95
- When the Lakers faced the Celtics in Boston on February 7th, the Celtics were sizzling having won their last 5 games. Well, the Celtics haven’t loss since that time. They’ve won 7 in a row, including their 116-95 trouncing of the Lakers. The winning streak coincides with the loss of Rajon Rando who is out for the season with an ACL tear. The Celtics are 8 and 14 on the road this season and the Lakers will have to find a way to stop the surging Celtics when the come to Staples on February 20th.
4. Friday, February 22, 2013: Portland Trailblazers at Los Angeles Lakers
Series tied 1-1
10/31 Blazers over Lakers, 116-106
12/28 Lakers over Blazers, 104-87
- The Portland Trailblazers are currently one of the teams that are vying for one of the final playoffs spots in the Western Conference. They are currently a game and a half ahead of the Lakers in the 9th spot, 2 games behind the Houston Rockets. The Lakers need to be in a position by this point to overtake the Blazers for this position in order to start making their run for playoff contention. A loss here would be devastating.
5. Sunday, February 24, 2013: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks
Series tied 1-1
10/30 Mavs over Lakers, 99-91
11/24 Lakers over Mavs, 115-89
- The Dallas Mavericks were NBA champions just 2 seasons ago. Now, just two years later they’ve fallen all the way to the outskirts of NBA relevancy. The Lakers are not too far from where the Mavericks sit in the standings, just 1 game ahead. The difference of the two teams is that the Lakers appear to have the talent to make a run now, whereas the Mavs are a shell of what they were 2 seasons ago. Dirk Nowitski and Shawn Marion are the only players remaining from the rotation of that championship team. Despite this being a road game where the Lakers have struggled this season, this is a win that the Lakers must get against an inferior opponent.
6. Monday, February 25, 2013: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets
Nuggets 2-1 over Lakers
11/30 Lakers over Nuggets, 122-103
12/26 Nuggets over Lakers, 126-114
01/06 Nuggets over Lakers, 112-105
- This game against the Denver Nuggets on the road will be the toughest of this 8 game stretch. Not only are they going to be playing in one of the toughest home courts in the NBA where the Denver Nuggets are 22-3, they’ll be playing there on the 2nd night of a back to back. The Denver Nuggets have also been one of the hottest teams in the league. They just had their season high 9 game winning streak snapped in Boston on Sunday. The Lakers are going to have to be playing much better than they have thus far to be able to get this game against the Nuggets under these set of circumstances.
7. Thursday, February 28, 2013: Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers 1-0 vs. Timberwolves
02/01 Lakers over Timberwolves, 111-100
- The Lakers return home after their very short road trip in Dallas and Denver to face the undermanned Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves will be without their All Star forward Kevin Love and should be easy picking for the Lakers at home. This game is another must win for the Lakers in this stretch of 8 games.
8. Sunday, March 3, 2013: Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Lakers
Teams have not matched up this season.
- The Atlanta Hawks are an above average team that can very well give the Lakers a game in their home arena. The things that the Lakers have going for them in this match up is that the Hawks will be on their 5th game in their 6 game road trip. When the Hawks arrive in Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Sunday, they will be playing in their 6th different city in 11 days. The road weary Hawks should be no match for a well rested Lakers team who will be playing on 3 days rest.
– Fern Rea “@fullcourtfern” and “@raining3sdotcom”