Forget about a playoff berth, it seems like the bottom half of the Western Conference is in full tank mode. However, somebody is going to make the postseason when it’s all said and done. We just don’t know if any of the teams will deserve it. Due to each team incapable of taking advantage of losses, all of the playoff hopefuls appear to be running in quicksand.
The Los Angeles Lakers (29-31) lost for the second time in a row on Monday night. They have lost 4 out of their last 5 games, and haven’t made up ground in the playoff race. Yet, they are still only three games out of a playoff spot. More importantly, there is truly a new contender in the race for the final seed. That’s something the Lakers may have not seen coming last week, especially after they knocked off the Houston Rockets.
After losing to the New Orleans Pelicans without Anthony Davis, the Lakers had an opportunity to get back to their winning ways against the Memphis Grizzlies. Instead, they lost another game to an opponent that is trying to miss the playoffs. Calling it a bad loss is an understatement. These games are critical for the Lakers to get back into postseason contention.
The Grizzlies defeated the Lakers, 110-105 behind 30 points from Mike Conley. Brandon Ingram led all players with 32 points in the loss. Kyle Kuzma added 22 points. LeBron James orchestrated a triple double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. It still wasn’t enough for the Lakers to get back into the win column.
However, the Lakers are still in contention for the final playoff spot because other teams have had trouble winning as well. Currently, the San Antonio Spurs (33-29) are in eighth place. They have lost three straight games and struggled mightily during the rodeo road trip. In addition to losing to the New York Knicks on Sunday, the Spurs bounced back to get housed by the Brooklyn Nets, 101-85. Yet, they still ended the night three games ahead of the Lakers. They are also one game ahead of the Sacramento Kings (31-29).
The Kings also lost their contest tonight. They fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 112-105. Now, the Timberwolves are in a tie with the Lakers. They are also the only team between No. 7 seed Los Angeles Clippers and the No. 11 seed to have at least one win in their latest outing. The Clippers are playing the Dallas Mavericks and that game is in progress.
Here’s another interesting note. The Mavericks are currently on a four-game losing streak. In reality, they should be in a better position. However, they are still 2.5 games behind the Lakers in the standings. Therefore, the Lakers still have every opportunity to turn their late-season struggles around.
James only shot 8 of 23 from the field in the loss. There are 22 games left on the schedule. It’s hard to put an exact number on how many games the Lakers need to win to garner a playoff spot. But they do have to make up three games in a hurry. James will need to play much better on both sides of the ball.
The Lakers take the court against the Pelicans on Wednesday. Let’s see if Davis makes an appearance this time around. Meanwhile, the Kings will host the Milwaukee Bucks. The Spurs are facing the Detroit Pistons. It will be their first home game since February 2. The Timberwolves will begin a three-game road trip against the Atlanta Hawks. Can they continue their ascent towards the postseason?