If Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs continue to rack up wins in bunches, the Lakers will not have any chance at the No. 1 seed in the West. Photo by Jeff Lewis The Lakers are on pace to have a better record than last year. But the Spurs are just better.By Jason LewisSports Editor
Public perception says that the Lakers are not as good as they were last season, and that their run might be over. But looking at the winning percentages, the Lakers finished last season with a .695 winning percentage. That was good enough to get the No. 1 seed in the West and they had the second best record in the league. Because the Lakers are 5.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs and 3.5 behind the Boston Celtics, many critics and fans are questioning this team as if they have fallen off. Well here’s a head scratcher. This Lakers team, which is old, does not care, and is not good as last year, has a winning percentage of .717. Yeah, go figure. The issue does not seem that the Lakers are worse, it’s that the Spurs, Celtics, and the Miami Heat are just better than they were last year. The Spurs and Celtics pretty much blew the regular season off last year. Both teams finished with a .610 winning percentage. This year the Spurs have the best record in the league and have a .844 winning percentage and the Celts a .767 winning percentage, good for second in the league. Both of those teams are taking the regular season much more seriously this season. Earlier in the season the thought was that old age would catch up with the Spurs and Celtics, but past the midpoint of the season, both teams continue to win at a high level. The issue with the Lakers is that they are not stepping up to the challenge. .695 is not going to cut it this year, but the Lakers appear to be content to hover around there. Well having a similar record as last year is going to have the Lakers on the road come playoff time. That is not a position that this team wants to be in. Over the past three post seasons the Lakers have played 12 playoff series. They had the home court in 11 of those series, and they won all 11. The only series where they did not have home court advantage they lost. It is not all bad for the Lakers. They have played much better over the past few weeks, especially with center Andrew Bynum’s increased playing time. With Bynum on the court they have seen a lot of improvements on the defensive end. Jerry West recently said that the Lakers are having problems defensively, due to old age, but the stats do not support that argument. The Lakers have allowed 96.4 points per game, 10th best in the league.They allow opponents to shoot 43.8% from the field, tied for third best in the NBA, and 33.9% from three-point range, fifth in the league.They are fourth in point differential, at plus 7.04.In the last 10 games, the Lakers have allowed 93.3 points per game, fifth best in the league, and allowed opponents to make 43.8% of their field goals, fourth best. Their point differential during that span is plus 10.3.The Lakers have started to win games in bunches, as they did when the recently won seven games in a row. But the issue is that they are so many games behind the Spurs that they have little room for error. So blowing 4th quarter leads against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks hurts the team a lot. The schedule is about to get a lot tougher, with the Celtics coming to town on Friday and then the Spurs next Thursday. After that they have a seven game road trip, which includes games at Boston, Orlando, New York, and New Orleans. All of those teams are on pace to make the playoffs.
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