Are the Lakers Turning the Corner?

By James F.

The Los Angeles Lakers have won three in a row. One of those three wins is over the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’ve done it by turning  Kobe Bryant into an assist machine. Kobe has had maybe his best three-game assist stretch of his career during this streak. So do this mean the Lakers have found out how to win with this team?

Let’s wait a while before we start making the Lakers a contender to win the Western Conference. Let’s at least wait for the next seven games. Because, all three Laker wins have been at home. Their next seven games are on the road where the have struggled mightily, and they will need to perform well in the playoffs. This is because no matter what, they will not have home court in the playoffs. So let’s see how this road trip goes first.

If the Lakers can go 6-1 or even 5-2, then maybe we can start to think about the possibility of a Lakers playoff run. A 5-2 road trip puts them at 25-27. The cutoff for the eighth seed looks to be neat the .500 mark, maybe a couple of games over, but not the normal 10 games over that the Western Conference usually is. So let’s say the eighth seed goes 43-39. The Lakers would need to go 18-12 in the last 30 to get to that mark. Knowing that they just won eight of ten when seven were on the road, 18-12 seems fairly likely. So if that happens, we can start talking about the Lakers being in the playoffs and making a run.

If the Lakers get into the playoffs, the rest of the West will need to take them every seriously. Because, let’s see they do got 5-2 and then 18-12 in their last 30. That would make them 26-14 in their last 40 games. that is right up there with some of the league’s best teams in the first half. That’s Miami Heat in the first 40 games territory.  So the Thunder, Spurs and Clippers had better not sleep on them.

The big question in L.A. though is, will Kobe Bryant be happy in the role of Steve Nash in the log run? Being the facilitator was the job Nash was supposed to be doing. Kobe’s job was supposed to be putting up points. But, while he did that, the team was losing. The Lakers have a good record when Kobe doesn’t score a lot of points. When he scores 30 or more, they are terrible. There have been enough games now where we can say that is not a coincidence. Kobe scoring 30 or more means the rest of his team becomes a bunch of stiffs. They stop rebounding and stop defending. Nobody more-so than Dwight Howard. If Howard gets his touches on offense, he stays involved on defense.

The only way this works, is is Kobe shelves his ego and becomes the point guard for this team. And that remains to be seen. But hopefully, it will because a post season with the Lakers will be a lot more interesting than a post-season without them.