The Los Angeles Lakers celebrate during a 104-88 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center on January 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers have lost four times in a row since, and their realistic playoffs chances are being questioned.
The Los Angeles Lakers have lost nine of their last 11 games and are 17-25, but the season is shockingly not lost yet.
Even with the horrible skid and a dismal 5-15 road record, the Lakers are amazingly only four games out of the final Western Conference playoffs spot. With 40 games left of the schedule, the Lakers still have a shot chance at sneaking into the postseason and even a chance at the seventh seed.
Ultimately, the Lakers’ season will be decided on the “Grammy’s road trip.”
The Lakers take fly off on Jan. 30 on a road trip that features seven games in twelve days. With the Lakers playing Utah on at home on Friday and New Orleans on Tuesday, they have a chance to build some momentum before hitting the road—the Oklahoma City Thunder game on Sunday is probably not going to result in a win based on historical record and current form.
The seven-game road trip starts with the Lakers playing Phoenix, Minnesota, and Detroit. None of these teams offer much resistance if the Lakers start playing an average level of basketball.
Following that relatively easy stretch, the Brooklyn Nets host a difficult away game. Brooklyn is currently 9-1 in their last 10 games and up to third in the Eastern Conference.
After Brooklyn, however, the Lakers find relief in a struggling Boston side and a Charlotte Bobcats team that looks even worse than it has in years past. The Bobcats only have three wins going back to Nov. 25.
The road trip concludes in Miami.
If the Lakers can win all the games they are “supposed” to win, they would likely gain on eighth place Houston, who has lost eight of its last nine games. Seventh seed Utah is Friday’s opponent, and struggling and hobbled Minnesota is another upcoming opponent in playoff contention.
Ultimately, the Lakers need to get to .500 or better to make the playoffs. This is not an especially strong year for the bottom of the Western Conference, as Houston currently holds the final playoff spot without having a winning record.
The Lakers still have the talent and ability to make the playoffs, but they need a concerted effort from everyone, they need to win on the road, and they need to play defense.
Regardless of whether it looks pretty or ugly, the Lakers just need to win.