The Los Angeles Lakers are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are currently one game below .500. For a team that has completely changed identities and has yet to play its best basketball, that’s not all that bad. After 25 up and down games, the Lakers are two and a half games back of Dallas for the final post-season berth.
Above all, LA should be proud of its 6-7 road record considering the Lakers started the season 1-5 away from Staples Center. All things considered, the Lakers could, and probably should, be far lower in the standings. However, they are not. With a win on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers can claim sole ownership of 10th place in the conference.
Simply stated, a winning record is not enough to challenge in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. The crosstown Clippers are currently eight games above .500 and sitting in fourth place. The Clippers are still nowhere near Portland’s conference-best 22-4 record.
However, the Lakers are not even attempting to compete in that race.
With 13 losses in 25 games, the Lakers are fighting for a playoff spot and the hope to click at the right time and make a run in the postseason. Home court will likely not be with these Lakers, so the recent trend of winning road games is a positive one.
At 12 wins and 13 losses, the Lakers have a good enough record to be fourth in the Eastern Conference. In the West, all that record provides LA is talk of trades and tanking the season. To this point, the Lakers have taken every action possible to escape talk of playing for the draft.
Since the Lakers will start on the road in the playoffs, it fits rather well that LA will have to find its team identity on the road. Thirteen of the Lakers’ next 20 games are on the road—including the infamous Grammys trip.
The Lakers’ future does not feature too many sunny and warm 80-degree December days in Los Angeles.
After a couple quick stops in Arizona and Northern California, the Lakers will spend Christmas with LeBron James. Once into 2014, the Lakers dance the Texas two-step in Houston and Dallas before coming to Staples as visitors for the first time this season.
Then, the music industry kicks the Lakers out of town for seven road games in 15 days, including two back-to-backs. Chicago, Boston, New York and Toronto all promise frigid temperatures in January.
Ultimately, if the Lakers do not become a good road team, they will not be a playoff team.