Lakers Get Back on Track; Too Late for Playoffs?

By Lucas M.

The Los Angeles Lakers have not exactly turned things around, but they are steadily improving. Many worry that it’s too late for them, that their early struggles cannot be overcome for a playoff berth. However, they’re beginning to win the games they should. For instance, the Lakers were three point favorites heading into Minnesota on Saturday night, and they easily covered the spread, winning 111-100. Pau Gasol appeared to find a dose of his former magic, scoring 22 points and grabbing ten boards without Dwight Howard in the lineup, sitting due to a shoulder injury.

“It’s been a rough season so far, no way around it,” said Gasol. “Just stay with it, keep playing. You never know when things can change direction. Just play your game when you’re out there. Tonight I was able to start, play more minutes, get a good flow. It was a good game.”

Here were some of the two team’s betting trends heading into Saturday’s clash, thanks to OddShark.com:

Los Angeles Lakers Trends:
When playing on Friday are 6-4
Before playing Detroit are 7-3
After playing Phoenix are 9-1
After a loss are 2-8

Minnesota Timberwolves Trends:
When playing on Friday are 2-8
Before playing New Orleans are 2-8
After playing LA Clippers are 3-7
After a loss are 2-8

Lakers @ Timberwolves Trends:
LA Lakers are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
LA Lakers are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games when playing Minnesota
The total has gone OVER in 4 of the LA Lakers last 5 games when playing Minnesota
The total has gone OVER in 7 of the LA Lakers last 10 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Minnesota’s last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Minnesota’s last 5 games when playing LA Lakers
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Minnesota’s last 12 games when playing LA Lakers
Minnesota is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games at home

 

However, perhaps the biggest trend of all this Lakers season has been Kobe Bryant’s shift toward a facilitator role. The game in Minnesota was Kobe’s fifth straight match with eight or more assists, the longest such streak in his career. The prolific scorer has been sacrificing offensive looks in order to get his teammates more involved. While Kobe has never been accused of being too selfless, his new facilitator role seems to be paying dividends; the Lakers have won four out of their last five games, the span during which Kobe has been passing the ball more and getting everyone on the team touches.

“That shows that I’m versatile, obviously,” Bryant said. “If I put my mind to it, I can do it. It just comes from playing the game at an early age, I guess. I’m able to do a myriad of things.”

For all of the Lakers recent successes, they may be too far gone to make the playoffs. They currently sit 11.5 games back from their crosstown rivals the Clippers in the Pacific division. They also opened the season at 12-1 odds to win the NBA championship, but currently sit at 25-1, which is still a mind-bogglingly high number given that there is a real shot they may not make the playoffs. The Lakers are improving as the season progresses, but they simply may not be improving fast enough.