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Los Angeles Lakers Survive Grammy Trip and are Only 3.5 Games Out of Final Playoff Spot

February 11th, 2013 at 8:38 PM
By Brandon Duran

'Los Angeles Lakers' photo (c) 2009, Mike - license:
It lasted seven games, 13 days, 8 cities, and 6,570 miles. The Lakers have made it through their longest road-trip of the season, finishing with a record of four wins and three losses. It began back onJanuary 30th with a loss in Phoenix, and it ended yesterday afternoon with a loss in Miami. The Lakers experienced many highs and lows throughout the trip, which includes Pau Gasol's unfortunate injury, the newfound unselfishness of Kobe Bryant, and the media spot of Kobe with Dwight Howard. However, the fact still remains that the Los Angeles Lakers have some serious work cut out for them if they still dream of making the playoffs.

Pau Gasol is having adventurous season thus far, having missed 16 of the 52 games played due to various injuries. Gasol sat for 8 consecutive games in the first half of December because of tendinitis in his knees, missed five straight games in early January due to a concussion, and has missed the past 3 games as a result of a torn plantar fascia. The 7-foot Spaniard will not have surgery to repair the tear, and he will miss the next six to eight weeks. Before going down with the foot injury, Pau was playing his best basketball of the season. The re-aggravation of Dwight Howard’s torn labrum in his right shoulder pushed Gasol back into the starting lineup at the center spot, and he showed why he is still one of the most talented big men in the league. Gasol, who is at his best in the low post, was the beneficiary of the unselfishness of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Once he returned to the starting lineup, Gasol averaged 20 points and 8.7 rebounds in three games, and then he ended up injuring his plantar fascia. Gasol, who was the player most likely to be traded last month, proved he is a valuable asset to the Lakers organization, and his injury is just another chapter in the unlucky season the Lakers have experienced this year.

The Grammy Trip was dominated by the back-and-forth, media-driven misunderstandings between the Laker superstars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. It is well-known that Kobe Bryant is a player that has played his entire career through injuries and that Bryant is a tough teammate to play with, which appears be too much for Dwight Howard. Bryant and Howard do not seem to be comfortable with each other on the court, and it is definitely affecting the play of the Lakers. Not only does the remainder of this season hinge on whether or not Bryant and Howard can co-exist on the court, but the team could look very different via Howard getting traded as Howard is an unrestricted free agent with the Lakers ending up losing the talented center for nothing.

Los Angeles sits four games under .500 at 24-28, which is good enough for 10th place in the West and three and a half games out of the eight spot. In order for the Lakers to make the West, they have to probably win 45 total games. To reach that mark, the Lakers must finish the final nine weeks of the season with a 21-9 record (or winning seven of every 10 games left). It’s not an impossible feat: the Lakers won seven out of ten games earlier this season, and they did it playing against some touch opponents. Even more encouraging for the Lakers is that teams that currently occupy spots three through eight in the Western Conference have recently experienced some serious mid-season woes.

The Lakers showed potential on their Grammy Trip, but they need to finish strong before the All-Star break. The next two games could put Los Angeles in a great spot to make a legitimate run at the playoffs to end the season. The Lakers return to Staples Center tomorrow night to face the Phoenix Suns and play their last game before the break on Thursday night against the Clippers. 

Tags: Basketball, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Pau Gasol, Staples Center, Steve Nash

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