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No good luck for the Lakers? Think again.

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Lakers Analysis |

Heading into Wednesday, the final day of the NBA regular season, there is still a lot left to determine, insofar as L.A.’s playoff hopes are concerned.

With Golden State’s win Monday over San Antonio the 6-seed is no longer an option. But the Lakers still do have three slots available (though one isn’t exactly ideal) thanks to Houston’s inexcusable loss in Phoenix. Here’s how it breaks down:

  1. If the Lakers win Wednesday, they’re the 7-seed and play San Antonio.
  2. If the Lakers lose but Utah loses to Memphis, L.A. is the 8-seed and plays Oklahoma City.
  3. If the Lakers lose and the Jazz win… L.A. misses the playoffs and it’s pitchforks and torches for the citizenry! Castle storming time!

The Lakers got more good news Monday, beyond the Suns doing them a solid. When the Grizzlies beat Dallas, it ensured they’d have something to play for Wednesday hosting the Jazz — the possibility of securing home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. (Remember, as a division winner, the Clippers can’t fall any lower than a 4-seed, but if the 5 ends up with a better record that team has HCA.)

Tipoff between the Jazz and Grizzlies is at 5 pm Pacific, so the Lakers will have a good idea of what’s going on by the time they take the floor against Houston. Should Memphis pull through, the Lakers could take the court knowing they’re in the top eight. That would have to be a nice weight off their shoulders. At that point, it becomes about climbing up a seed, something they’ll definitely want to do.

While I still think playing without James Harden will hurt OKC in the playoffs — he was the guy serving as the bridge between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant late in games, allowing both to aggressively seek out points — San Antonio is struggling with their own injury issues and hasn’t been playing all that well over the last week or two because of it.

Not that I’d actually pick the Lakers to win, assuming San Antonio has Tony Parker at their disposal. If Manu Ginobili is back in time for the first round — a growing possibility — L.A.’s odds grow even longer. The Spurs may not get up and down the floor as explosively as OKC, but they play plenty fast when they want (check the pace factors) and are more than capable of punishing the Lakers in transition, and are disciplined enough to exploit every defensive mistake in half court sets.

I.e., they’re really good, better than the Lakers. That said, from a matchup standpoint L.A. would be better off with San Antonio.

And now to the good luck part. While I realize “snakebitten” doesn’t adequately describe the team’s problems this year – Kobe’s Achilles injury being the worst example but far from the only — they have been the beneficiaries of one massive bit of good fortune.

Over the last three full seasons, the eighth seed in the Western Conference has averaged 48 wins. The Lakers could get in with 44, might only need 45, and if they win not only would the latter give them a playoff berth, it would actually elevate them into the 7th spot.

I suspect most fans won’t consider everything all square, but at least the pendulum swung L.A.’s way on one major issue for the 2012-13 season.

Download the newest podcast here. To subscribe to the show via iTunes, click here. You can also find us on TuneIn.com by heading here.

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Don't tell Kobe Bryant these last five games are like the Mavericks series

Posted by on Apr 8, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers News, Opinion | 5 comments

Monday in El Segundo, I made a comparison to Kobe Bryant between their situation now and when they were down 3-0 against Dallas a couple years back. My theory, not all that hard to unwind, being both were moments when the Lakers couldn't lose games without serious consequences.

He wasn't buying. A transcript of the short conversation.

Me: It's a similar situation now (to then).

Kobe: No it's not.

Me: You lose one or two games, you're not playing in the playoffs.

Kobe: Unless Utah goes belly up, too. You don't know what the hell is going to happen.

Me: But what goes into the belief that a team that hasn't been able to put five good games together now will be able to do it now?

Kobe: We've put four (together). We've put four. The way I figure, you put four together, and there's no f****** way we're losing the last game. There's just no way. So we'll put four together, and deal with the last one when we get there.

Me: You really don't think (the situations) similar at all?

Kobe, who by this point clearly thinks I'm an idiot.: No. One game away? There's so many moving targets. You've got five games left… I mean, no! That's a stretch.

There may have been another f-bomb in that last part, too.

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Podcast: Kobe Bryant and postgame rhetoric, untimely slides, and D.J. Mbenga stories

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Podcast | 5 comments

REMINDER: Subscribe to our show in iTunes here…

Those happy days when it looked like the Lakers might actually climb up the Western Conference playoff ladder and even (gasp!) make a little noise come the postseason are … well, if not gone are, in the parlance of seldom acknowledged Pink Floyd albums, Obscured By Clouds.

Now, having lost three straight including Monday”s not-nearly-as-close-as-the-final-score-indicates game against the Warriors in Oakland, the Lakers have lost touch with Golden State and Houston, and are just trying to hang on to the eighth spot. And they have some company.

With that backdrop, we sat down Tuesday afternoon to record the newest Kamenetzky Brothers Land O”Lakers Podcast (before the news about Metta World Peace”s lateral meniscus tear, just as an FYI). Among the talking points:

  • Why aren”t bulletin board material for the Lakers, but reflect bigger problems for the Lakers heading into the postseason … assuming they get there.
  • Speaking of which, will they?
  • After Monday”s loss, Kobe Bryant took the action hero, steely approach when asked if he was concerned about L.A.”s shrinking cushion in the playoff race. “I”m terrified,” he said. “Do I look terrified? Not at all.” Lest you think his question was rhetorical. Are zen calm and unshakable confidence the right approach at this point? If he”s saying the right stuff, what else ought Kobe be doing?
  • Finally, we take a comment from the Facebook Mailbag that most Lakers fans certainly identify with, and I share a conversation with V.O.T.L.* John Ireland following Friday”s loss encapsulating the ways in which this season has gone very wrong for the Lakers.

Finally, one more mention for this piece Andy put together for Red Bull Media House, on OKC”s Nick Collison”s evolution into the consummate role player.

*Voice of the Lakers. 

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The "buy in" road trip

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Opinion, Pau Gasol | 6 comments

The Lakers have made their climb up the Western Conference standings, and while they woke up Tuesday morning once again on the outside looking in — Utah”s win Monday pulled them even with L.A., and the Jazz own the tiebreaker — with a favorable schedule through the end of the month and the return of Pau Gasol still on the horizon, a playoff berth looks more likely than not.

That”s not just me talkin”, .

So the next question becomes one of legitimacy. Assuming they get in, how much damage can the Lakers actually do?

Here, Andy and I (especially Andy) have been accused of being too pessimistic. So it”s as good a time as any to explain my general world view on this issue, and how I got here. Hop in your WAYBAC machine, if you don”t mind. Long, long ago, back in 2010-11, the Lakers were looking for a Threepeat. That season the Lakers generally underperformed on multiple levels, but I, like a lot of people, figured they would kick it into high gear once s*** got real. They would, to use the terminology, flip the switch. In the process, I overlooked or excused sign after sign after sign indicating the team simply wasn”t that good, based on my assumptions of what I thought they should be.

And, of course, they barely escaped the first round of the playoffs before being completely humiliated by the Mavericks. Last year was similar, though most reasonable people knew the Lakers weren”t necessarily complacent relative to teams like Oklahoma City. They cared, and just weren”t as good. It happens.

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Podcast: Lakers rising (?), Dwight returns to Orlando, Kobe for MVP?

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Mike D'Antoni, Podcast | 3 comments

It's taken over six months to say without relying on forced optimism, but things are actually looking kinda good for the Lakers. After Sunday's win over the Chicago Bulls, they're two games above .500 for the first time this season, and half a game ahead of a reeling Utah Jazz squad for the Western Conference's eighth playoff seed. Not to say every issue's been indisputably solved, but with the rest of March relatively low on difficult games, it does feel like the wind is at the Lakers' back.

Just one of the issues we discuss in this week's Land O'Lakers podcast. Others include:

  • As recently as February 28, wireless tv speakers
    boombox
    construction management
    partial knee replacement
    drug addiction
    construction company
    opiate addiction
    knee pain
    BK and (especially) yours truly were skeptical about the odds of a playoff berth. Suddenly, a postseason appearance feels less farfetched. Will the Lakers remain part of the top eight and how high can they potentially rise? It depends on whether the showing against Chicago is “exception” or “rule.”
  • BK and I climb on our soapbox to chastise the media for (what we hope is) its willful ignorance about why Dwight Howard won't verbally commit long-term to the Lakers before this summer. The reasons, several of which I laid out back in August, are incredibly obvious to anybody giving the matter even the slightest bit of thought.
  • Speaking of Howard, on Tuesday he'll play his first game against Orlando as a member of any team but the Magic. From an emotional standpoint, it will be tough. How will the center hold up and how important is it to get some closure?
  • Addressing a question from a recent “Land O'Lakers Mailbag,” does Kobe Bryant have any shot at MVP, given his pivotal role in the Lakers' recent surge? His play has been good enough to merit discussion, and writers often vote — right or wrong — based on narrative. Safe to say, should the Lakers qualify for the postseason, Kobe's fueled one helluva storyline. Would that be enough?
  • Do not ask Metta World Peace to be your Disney World tour guide.
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