Skip to content

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

Feb 25, 2013, 2:11 PM EDT

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. Report: Greg Monroe ‘doesn’t really have a great interest in going back and playing with the Pistons’

    Aug 1, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Detroit Pistons Atlanta Hawks v Detroit Pistons

    Pistons have reportedly talked sign-and-trade with Hawks, Suns and Blazers (but Portland is out)

  2. Spurs Coyote wins Mascot of the Year

    Aug 1, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs Victory Parade And Rally San Antonio Spurs Victory Parade And Rally

    Finally, San Antonio basketball fans have a reason to be proud

  3. Best dunks from Team USA training camp (VIDEO)

    Aug 1, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Kevin Durant has a couple nice ones.

  4. Vin Baker auctioning off his 2000 Gold Medal from Sydney Olympics

    Aug 1, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Vin Baker of the USA Getty Images

    Bidding starts at $35,000. Which we all have just lying around.

  5. Chris Bosh says he was ‘close’ to leaving the Heat in free agency

    Aug 1, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Chris Bosh AP

    Bosh was very close to leaving Miami in free agency,

  6. Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver engage in three-point shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver engaged in a shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp in Vegas.

  7. Rosters announced for USA Basketball Showcase Friday night in Las Vegas

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee and DeMarcus Cousins will be on opposing teams in Friday’s exhibition.

  8. Report: Mason Plumlee likely to make Team USA roster over DeMarcus Cousins

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    USA roster has more than enough talent, so it can afford to sacrifice some to get positive attitudes in place.

  9. Kobe Bryant destroys some young fans in China in one-on-one (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant

    It’s the memory of a lifetime… even if you get embarrassed.

  10. Report: Lakers contact Robert Horry about becoming assistant coach

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Horry puts shot up Getty Images

    Mark Madsen and Paul Pressey also reportedly candidates for Byron Scott’s staff

  11. John Wall’s goal for Wizards next season: ‘The Finals’

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Washington Wizards Getty Images

    Wall raising expectations after Wizards met last season’s playoff goal

  12. Gary Payton on becoming an assistant coach: “I’m getting interested now”

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

    Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference

    As tight as he is with Kidd, do you really think Payton would choose Milwaukee over Los Angeles?

  13. Bucks sign Jerryd Bayless, Johnny O’Bryant

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Jerryd Bayless Jerryd Bayless

    Milwaukee, with Damien Inglis in limbo, now facing roster crunch

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (4150)
  2. K. Love (4109)
  3. D. Rose (3891)
  4. K. Bryant (2714)
  5. R. Allen (2368)
  1. C. Anthony (2217)
  2. K. Durant (2201)
  3. B. Griffin (2048)
  4. E. Bledsoe (2030)
  5. D. Wade (1922)