Here’s where LA stands as it strives for the play-in tournament.
Last night, minus All-Star small forward LeBron James and max-monied starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, your Los Angeles struggled to protect the ball against Ja Morant and his Memphis Grizzlies, coughing up 26 turnovers en route to a 121-109 road loss.
The defeat dropped LA to a 29-33 record on the season.
So how does the club stack up against the rest of the West?
As of now, Los Angeles still occupies the 12th seed in its conference, and is still a game behind the tenth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans. Thanks to losses tonight for the 28-33 Thunder (tonight’s competition), the 32-31 Mavericks, the 29-32 Trail Blazers, and the 33-31 LA Clippers, the Western Conference remains someone bunched-up.
Though the 37-23 Grizzlies separated themselves a bit from the pack, only 4.5 games separate the fourth-seeded Phoenix Suns (33-29, albeit with Kevin Durant set to return tomorrow for an almost-guaranteed win over the Charlotte Hornets) from the 13th-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.
Can the Lakers hold serve until LeBron James returns to the hardwood? At the earliest, that could be two weeks from now, when he is set to have his murky right foot injury reassessed.
LA will be playing eight games in the next two weeks, four of which will be against some of the team’s direct competition for the play-in tournament: the Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and Pelicans. Victories against these four squads, in particular, would almost count twofold, in both helping the Lakers gain ground in the standings and knocking the direct competition down a peg.
Of course, that’s easier said than done without the team’s best player. Time will tell whether or not Anthony Davis steps up.