After stringing 3 wins together, the Denver Nuggets snapped the Lakers’ win-streak in a 119-108. Just about every player talked about how the Nuggets ran them out of the gym. On every missed shot, rebound, or turnover, the Nuggets had a track meet against the aging Lakers. They couldn’t keep up with Denver, but does that mean the Lakers can’t keep up with the West? I don’t think so.
From the start of the season everyone knew the Lakers were older and slower. The addition of Steve Nash who will be 40 in his next season upped the average age of the team. While younger players like Jodie Meeks, Earl Clark, Devin Eabanks, and Jordan Hill have all done their part to help, they are in no way the key players to winning a championship. Well, I take that back for Clark and Meeks. I honestly believe if the Lakers get into the playoffs, both Clark and Meeks have the ability to be strong role players to help them get a few Ws.
But does age really matter that much? Has the West been won by the young guns? Well for the naysayers who think that losing in Denver is a sign of the Lakers not making it this year, keep in mind that Denver has always matched up well with the Lakers. And it was the second night on a back to back. And Denver is 24-3 at home. Well if a win from LA over OKC means anything, then I think the Lakers still have the ability to make a deep run in the playoffs. Sure, the win was weeks and weeks ago. And they have had bad losses to some mediocre teams. And they’re still 1 out of 10 against top 4 teams in the West. (I heard that from Mason and Ireland on the radio; Blame ESPN if it’s wrong.) But ever since the win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and a loss over the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers are 1 out of 2 against top 4 teams since they’ve seemed to find an identity and have started to gel. When you consider that they’re only playing 4 more games against the current top four Western Conference teams it will be a good test for them to see how far they’ve come in this season.
I mean, any way you slice it, the Lakers have played better basketball leading up to the all-star break and coming away from it. The team looks like it has an identity with Howard rolling to the basket, and Kobe playing the facilitator roll quite well. But what’s the best part about the Lakers playing recently? Well, remember at the beginning of the year how everyone loved throwing around the stat that when Kobe scored over 30 points the Lakers lost at least 80% of their games. Well, coming out of the break Kobe has had 2 games where he scored over 30 points, and they won each time. Dwight Howard has been playing very well and his effort has been consistent. He has been contesting shots on D, grabbing boards, and playing the pick and roll on offense. If the Lakers continue to win 3 out of every 4 like this, then I don’t see why they can’t get into the playoffs. But it takes some help from Houston and Utah. But when you consider the fact that both teams are on a losing streak and 5 of 5 in their past 10 games, it looks like they might be answering the call.
Sam Accardo is a writer for Hefferbrew. He thinks that the Lakers can go undefeated for the rest of season (emphasis on “can”), but he doubts they will. He does believe that they will make the playoffs and avoid a similar end to the season that the Dodgers had last year. Follow us @hefferbrew and like our page on facebook.