Mar 28, 2013, 11:17 PM EDT
Every game is critical for the Lakers down the stretch of the regular season, if the team hopes to maintain the hold on a tenuous playoff spot it took them essentially the entire year to secure.
Nothing is secured yet, of course, and after falling in Milwaukee on Thursday by a final of 113-103, L.A. is just a half game ahead of Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot out West.
The Lakers are tied with the Jazz in the loss column, and just a game ahead of the Mavericks there after Dallas was blown out at home at the hands of the Pacers.
L.A. hasn’t swept a back-to-back set by winning two games on consecutive nights all season long, and they’ll finish the season that way, since the loss to the Bucks was their last opportunity given the way the rest of the schedule shakes out.
As for this game in particular, there was nothing unusual that contributed to the Lakers’ woes if you’ve watched this team at all over the course of the season. The perimeter defense was dreadful, and the help rotations were nonexistent. L.A. went small for the second straight game with Metta World Peace out of the lineup by starting Jodie Meeks and shifting Kobe Bryant to the three, with predictably underwhelming defensive results.
The Lakers were out to a lead of as many as 13 points early, but in the second half, the offense went cold, and they allowed the Bucks to shoot better than 53 percent from the field over the game’s final two periods. Larry Sanders managed to not get himself ejected, and was particularly effective in tallying 15 points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots in 17 second half minutes.
Bryant led all scorers with 30 points on 6-17 shooting, thanks to getting to the free throw line 20 times and knocking down 18 of those attempts. Steve Nash left the game with 5:13 to play and did not return thanks to a “hip spasm,” as he characterized it afterward. He’s expected to play in the Lakers’ next game on Saturday in Sacramento against the Kings.
The playoffs aren’t guaranteed for these Lakers, and with Utah regaining balance and the Mavericks playing better as of late (despite Thursday night’s struggles), L.A. can’t afford to take any nights off.
After a strong push following the All-Star break, the Lakers are just 5-5 over their last 10 games, and they’ll need to figure things out quickly over the nine games that are left in the regular season just to be able sneak into the postseason.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT
Raptors win Game 2, but it feels like this series is Brooklyn’s to lose.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:38 PM EDT
Pacers go on a monster third quarter run to even series with Hawks.
Apr 22, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Interim GM for the Cavaliers intends to remain aggressive in upgrading talent, but there are other issues that need to be addressed first.
Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ complaints about officiating: ‘In the playoffs you’re not going to get calls’
Apr 22, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
The officials are not the reason the Raptors lost Game 1.
Apr 22, 2014, 5:48 PM EDT
He wants to be recruited.
Apr 22, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT
You don’t bash their pizza in Chicago.
Apr 22, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT
Building on the water was always a long shot, now they found a place they can get a deal done.
Apr 22, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Calderon’s defensive limitations are an issue, but Nowitzki says, “We’re rolling the way we’re set up.”
Apr 22, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT
Most teams have the Kentucky power forward 3-5 on their draft boards.
Apr 22, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT
Don’t worry, Craig
Apr 22, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Forward a potential first-round pick
Apr 22, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT
Defensive Player of the year certainly helps, though
Apr 22, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
Would the stable and consistent Jazz roll the dice on European legend Ettore Messina? A bigger name like Lionel Hollins?
Apr 22, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins also receive votes
Apr 22, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
The best coach in basketball finally won the award.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
Apr 22, 2014, 9:39 AM EDT
Phil Jackson reportedly likes Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Ollie
Apr 22, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
This one is worth watching one more time.
Apr 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Bulls, Pacers, Raptors don’t want to drop both home games to start playoffs.
Apr 22, 2014, 2:40 AM EDT
Mike Conley and Beno Udrih were huge… that Blake Griffin guy isn’t bad, either.