Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Head Coach Mike D'Antoni can still smile at their chances of making the playoffs considering the talent available and time remaining.
After a couple Lakers wins, Triple Threat decided to widen the lens for a moment and look around the National Basketball Association to see how the season is stacking up nearly halfway into the 2012-13 campaign.
The Lakers have more losses at home—nine—than the Oklahoma City Thunder have on the season—eight. With 21 defeats to their name, the Lakers are not likely to see home court advantage even if they are fortunate enough to make the playoffs.
With Portland losing three straight games, however, the Lakers only trail the final Western Conference playoffs spot by three games. Even more fortunate, the Houston Rockets are on a four-game losing streak, so the Lakers are only three and a half games out of the seven seed—a first round matchup against the Clippers.
Unfortunately, the Lakers face a daunting test with the defending champion Miami Heat scheduled to arrive at Staples Center on Thursday.
Miami may have lost three of their last four games, but LeBron James and the Heat are still the best team in the Eastern Conference at 24-12 on the season.
After LeBron leaves L.A., the Lakers take to the skies for a three-game trip that includes stops in Memphis and Chicago. Memphis is currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference, but the Grizzlies have the same record as the Miami Heat. With Memphis still five full games back of Oklahoma City in the standings, the elite level of the Thunder is hard to deny.
When the Lakers finally do get back from their three-game road trip, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook return to Staples Center for their second January visit this season. This time around, the Lakers will hope for a better result than the 116-101 drubbing handed out on Jan. 11.
When honestly analyzing the standings, the Lakers, Mavericks, Jazz, Trailblazers, and Rockets are all vying for the final two playoffs spots. With over half the season remaining, there is plenty reason to believe the Lakers can earn one of those spots.