Seventy-one games into the 2012-13 season, the Los Angeles Lakers have provided a relatively large sample size of what they are: a dysfunctional, cursed, and inconsistent team that sits on the fringes of the playoffs.
With only 11 games remaining, the Lakers have failed to make a convincing argument that they even belong in the playoffs. For those who do not understand how average an achievement making the NBA playoffs is: there are 32 NBA teams; 16 make the playoffs. The Lakers are struggling to hold onto the final spot and prove that they are the definition of average.
This is the Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash Lakers.
Sure, the Lakers have had excuses galore: Howard looked slow, labored, and even lazy for two-thirds of the season following back surgery; Pau Gasol missed nearly half the season between a concussion, tendonitis, and a foot injury; Nash broke his leg in the second game of the season; Steve Blake missed considerable time due to an abdominal injury; Jordan Hill went down for the season; the Lakers effectively had three coaches…
All those excuses do not mean much at this point. The Lakers are on a three-game losing streak, and the injury spell has not been broken.
Metta World Peace injured his knee on Monday night, and his status going forward is in doubt. Antawn Jamison has a sprained wrist he’s playing through. Bryant suffered a severely sprained ankle and is only a couple games back after missing a week with the injury. Gasol’s return to the lineup is shrouded in mystery, and his conditioning is being used as a primary excuse to keep him off the floor late in games.
The Lakers have lacked continuity, health, and consistency all season long. Injuries have plagued the roster from top to bottom, and questions about the coach’s competency constantly reverberate through the fan base. The passing of the greatest owner in sports history added yet another level of tragedy that is the Lakers’ 2012-13 regular season.
Ultimately, the Los Angeles Lakers are not dead in the water until they either fail to make the playoffs or are dumped out of the post season. Until that happens, Lakers fans will believe with every ounce of will that there is a path to a championship.
As well they should believe.
On paper, the Lakers still look good enough to win. On the floor, however, the Lakers have failed to convince. Occasionally, the Lakers look good. Often, they look bad. With only 11 games remaining, it would take a small miracle for these Lakers to suddenly look great.