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: Omri Casspi finalizing one-year contract with Sacramento

    Jul 26, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Omri Casspi

    The way the Kings handled this lets them keep Quincy Acy.

  2. Why are the Lakers hiring Byron Scott as head coach?

    Jul 26, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Byron Scott Byron Scott

    Making sure Kobe Bryant is happy in his final two seasons in Los Angeles seems to be at the top of the list.

  3. James Harden says he considered himself a role player during days with OKC

    Jul 26, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Harden seems to backtrack a bit on comments Chandler Parsons took offense to.

  4. Carmelo Anthony on his free agent decision: ‘It was pretty much always Chicago or New York’

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Anthony reportedly strongly considered the Lakers too, but he says that wasn’t really the case.

  5. Report: Kevin Johnson no longer part of search for new head of players’ union, vote expected Monday

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Kevin Johnson

    The union for the players continues to struggle to get some competent leadership in place.

  6. Joakim Noah is happy for LeBron, but hopes Bulls ‘can kick his a– as many times as possible’

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Joakim Noah continues to be brutally honest when speaking about his team’s competition.

  7. Top 10 dunks of Las Vegas Summer League (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins AP

    The Andrew Wiggins spin and dunk is a thing of beauty.

  8. Report: Hawks sign Shelvin Mack to three-year, $7.3 million deal

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    He is a solid backup to have while Dennis Schroder develops.

  9. Report: Will Cherry drawing interest from Cavaliers, Raptors

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Will Cherry was fun to watch at Las Vegas Summer League.

  10. Tom Thibodeau considers Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson starters

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bulls also must make room for Nikola Mirotic in frontcourt

  11. Dirk Nowitzki plays baseball (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Dirk Nowitzki Dirk Nowitzki

    Dirk Nowitzki presents a big strike zone.

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4204)
  2. K. Love (4156)
  3. L. James (4134)
  4. R. Allen (3553)
  5. J. Nelson (3069)
  1. A. Wiggins (2998)
  2. K. Bryant (2772)
  3. D. Rose (2696)
  4. C. Anthony (2617)
  5. E. Bledsoe (2476)