On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers welcome the Atlanta Hawks to Staples Center.
Atlanta is playing its penultimate game of a grueling six-day road trip. Friday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns snapped a five-game road winning streak for the Hawks. In short, the Atlanta Hawks are a good road team with a respectable road record of 15-14.
On Sunday, the Lakers kick off a daunting stretch of 10 games in 16 days. During the latest make-or-break segment of the season, the Lakers do not have two days in a row off. Officially, the Lakers play six road games during this stretch, but the schedule does not afford the Lakers much time to settle in for their home games.
However, the Lakers have performed well recently and can actually reach .500 for the first time since Dec. 28, 2012. Kobe Bryant’s team has won 11 of the its 16 games.
During the recent positive play, Bryant, in particular, has adapted to the various obstacles, injuries, and defenses facing the Lakers. His individual performance resulted in February’s Western Conference Player of the Month award.
Bryant didn’t seem to much care about the award, and his focus was squarely on his guarantee to make the playoffs. Entering the day, the Lakers were 2.5 games back of Houston for the final Western Conference playoffs spot. However, Dallas and Houston play each other on Sunday afternoon.
If Houston loses and the Lakers win, LA would be within 1.5 games of the eighth spot in the West.
If the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday evening, they will not have a losing record for the first time in 2013. That still may not be good enough to make the playoffs, but it is definitely a welcomed step the right direction.
Tip-off at Staples Center is 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time, and the Lakers will be wearing their "Los Lakers" jerseys.