Skip to content

The Lakers are hot, but are they really playing that well?

Feb 25, 2013, 2:11 PM EST

Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace AP

Here’s a little secret about the Lakers — look at just their point differential this season (points scored minus points allowed) and they should be a 31-26 team. They lost a lot of games early in the season they could and should have won.

Now they are hot again — win Monday night in Denver and they are a .500 team. Even before that game they have won 11 of their last 15 and are just 2.5 games back of Houston for the eighth playoff spot. They seem to have found a sense of identity and who they are in the new system, and that is letting them win these close games.

But don’t be fooled that the Lakers are suddenly a much better team, argues Tom Ziller at SB Nation.

According to NBA.com/stats, over the last 15 games (11-4 record) the Lakers are scoring 1.04 points per possession and allowing 1.02. Over the entire season (59 games, 24-25 record) the Lakers are scoring 1.05 points per possession and allowing 1.03. The team’s efficiency differential for the season is +1.9; over the last 15 games it is +2.3. The Lakers are barely different. It’s hard to look at the data and ascertain that anything has clicked into place. This is essentially the same team that it has been: a slightly above average club. But the Lakers’ unlucky record from the first half of the season is now regressing to the mean, which the data indicates is still far short of expectations.

He’s not wrong, although he later admits what shows up when you watch the games — the Lakers are still inconsistent. They have a lot more good games than bad now as they start to figure things out, but they still have some ugly losses (by 24 to the Clippers on Valentines day, for example). The Lakers numbers have always been a little hard to read and value this season because they are so up and down.

Really that’s been about Dwight Howard, who has been up and down on the defensive end. With Kobe Bryant leading the way — shooting or passing — the Lakers offense has been good this season, it is the defense that has been the issue.

Now the Lakers are finding their stride, particularly on defense, and there are more up games. They are going to have to go catch the Rockets (who have an easy schedule the rest of the way) or Utah (hard schedule but still have Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap) if they are going to make the playoffs. Those teams are not coming back to them.

Latest Posts
  1. Rodney Stuckey says Pistons’ downward spiral began with Chauncey Billups trade

    Dec 27, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Chauncey Billups Chauncey Billups

    Stuckey says the trade robbed the locker room of accountability.

  2. Tobias Harris trash talked LeBron, then LeBron goes off, leads Cavs to win

    Dec 27, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Cleveland at Orlando Getty Images

    LeBron James was in “chill mode” and this team is vulnerable when he is.

  3. Rumor: Ray Allen leaning toward retirement, not return

    Dec 27, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    2014 NBA Finals - Game One Getty Images

    This option was always on the table for him, people around the NBA just never thought he’d choose it.

  4. Rumor: Heat to target Andray Blatche when he returns from Chinese team

    Dec 27, 2014, 7:59 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets - Game One Getty Images

    He won’t be available until February or March, the Heat may not want to wait that long.

  5. Josh Smith makes Rockets debut, throws down two-handed dunk (VIDEO)

    Dec 26, 2014, 9:45 PM EST

    Josh Smith Josh Smith

    Hopefully there are more of these and fewer threes.

  6. Michael Jordan’s message to Kobe Bryant: “Go get Karl”

    Dec 26, 2014, 4:29 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    At 25 points a game it would still take Kobe 182 games to catch Malone. That’s not likely.

  7. Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks: “The fans are dying, we’re dying”

    Dec 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Knicks fans are going to need to be patient, something New Yorkers have long been know for. *cough*

Featured video

Who will land Josh Smith?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (9340)
  2. K. Bryant (7730)
  3. K. Martin (7316)
  4. J. Smith (7128)
  5. C. Bosh (6937)
  1. K. Leonard (6818)
  2. Z. Randolph (6782)
  3. D. Williams (6395)
  4. T. Jones (6365)
  5. D. DeRozan (6114)