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. Giant LeBron James banner approved to hang in downtown Cleveland once again

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    lebron-banner

    10-story-high banner will return after a similar one was taken down when James left in 2010.

  2. Report: Ramon Sessions signs 2-year deal with Kings

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT

    Ramon Sessions AP

    Sessions could start at point guard for Sacramento.

  3. Report: Former NBA player Rex Chapman arrested for stealing product from Apple store

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Rex Chapman, Ashley Judd Rex Chapman, Ashley Judd

    Chapman played four years for the Suns, and is facing charges in Scottsdale, AZ.

  4. Andrew Bogut is feeling healthy, takes charges on D at Warriors scrimmage

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Andrew Bogut AP

    Must-read quote from Bogut on how he does NOT want to be perceived.

  5. All PBT’s NBA team previews in one convenient spot

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 Getty Images

    This post is here to make life easier for you when you want to find these at the end of the season and point out how wrong we were.

  6. UPDATED Report: Timberwolves make push for Eric Bledsoe, Suns not interested in sign-and-trade talks

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    It has to be a sign and trade and Minnesota doesn’t have a lot of leverage here.

  7. Jeff Green says he wants to be leader on Celtics this season

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Jeff Green AP

    “It was more just becoming a better all-around player, trying to take the next step and become a leader on this team and will my team to win.” —Jeff Green

  8. James Dolan enlists Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire to break world kazoo record

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT

    dolan stoudemire anthony kazoo

    And you wonder why Phil Jackson is worth $12 million a year to the Knicks organization.

  9. Hawks’ Budenholzer adjusting to coach/GM role, had mentor for many years in Popovich

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Mike Budenholzer

    Budenholzer got thrust into a position with the power a lot of coaches covet.

  10. Cavaliers sign Lou Amundson

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Lou Amundson Serge Ibaka, Lou Amundson

    Will he make Cleveland’s regular-season roster?

  11. LeBron James unveils latest signature shoe from Nike: The LEBRON 12

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    9.15.14 Nike LeBron 12 Launch

    Full recap from the launch event at Nike World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon, including technical information, details on colorways, and confirmed release dates.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2653)
  2. L. James (2584)
  3. R. Rondo (2540)
  4. K. Bryant (2288)
  5. K. Irving (2256)
  1. E. Bledsoe (2096)
  2. R. Allen (1782)
  3. D. Favors (1666)
  4. J. Valanciunas (1657)
  5. K. Durant (1614)