The Los Angeles Lakers’ regular season ends on April 17, and at the moment there is no guarantee there will be a post-season for Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
With only 28 games remaining, the Lakers still trail the final Western Conference playoffs spot by 3 1/2 games.
Although the Lakers lost in an embarrassing blowout to their Staples Center co-tenants in their last game, Mike D’Antoni’s team has won eight of its last 12 games and the Lakers’ overall play has been better of late. They’ll need to continue this trend following the All-Star break to have any chance of making the post-season.
During the final 28 games, the Lakers play 14 at home and 14 on the road. Their longest road trip is a four-game stretch that kicks off at the end of March.
However, the Lakers still have to hurdle the Western Conference’s elite teams prior to reaching the finish line. LA hosts the best record in the NBA when the Spurs come to visit in the penultimate game of the season. The Lakers travel to Oklahoma City on March 5 for their final meeting against the second-place Thunder.
On April 7, the "Battle of Los Angeles" resumes against the Clippers, but the Lakers have already lost the war by dropping all three meetings thus far. The Lakers host fourth-place Memphis on April 5, and the Grizzlies have mauled the Lakers in their two previous meetings.
Overall, the Lakers only have one win against the top four teams in the Western Conference this season. With the Lakers getting one more shot at all four elite title contenders before the end of the season, the Lakers have the opportunity to make some statements about where they fit into the post-season picture.
They’ll need any momentum they can get because if the Lakers do make the playoffs, they will be on the road against one of those same four elite teams that have had their way with the Lakers all season long.