On Sunday, April 7th, The Los Angeles Lakers lost their regular season, round four “Thriller In Manila” bout to the much improved, “Lob City” Los Angeles Clippers 109-95. The Clippers swept the Lakers all four regular season games.
The Lakers are fighting for their very playoff lives. They are on a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown, must win, playoff like games to secure the last playoff spot available in the Western Conference playoff race, maybe? The Utah Jazz is also in the hunt for the last playoff spot. If there is a tie at the end of the season between the Jazz and the Lakers, the Jazz will win the tie-breaker, because they have more wins against the Lakers during the regular season.
The loss to the Clippers on Sunday hurt the Lakers as every game down the home stretch is monumental and can easily decide their fate regarding making the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers kept hope alive last night as they beat the New Orleans Hornets 104-96 taking care of # 5 in the countdown run. The Oklahoma City Thunder helped the Lakers out by beating the Utah Jazz the same night as the Lakers victory.
Tonight, the Lakers will play the second of back to back games against the Portland Trailblazers. They will be playing to improve their abysmal record against the Trailblazers with a win in Portland. The Lakers will need everything they can get from their starters and their bench. They have not won a back to back game in some time.
The Lakers have been without the services of Steve Nash who is out with tight hamstrings. Metta World Peace is suited up and ready to play for the Lakers against the New Orleans Hornets, after just coming off having knee surgery a few weeks ago.
Unlike previous regular season games against the Trailblazers, this game tonight is almost like a must win seventh game in the playoffs. It is one of those games where the past records and standings are thrown out.
One could imagine that some teams that have had trouble with the Lakers during the regular season and could face the Lakers in the playoffs may be cheering for them not to make the playoffs. Other teams who have had success against the Lakers this season may relish the opportunity to play the Lakers in the playoffs.
The game against the Portland Trailblazers is a must win game. In order for the countdown Lakers' victory #5 against the Hornets to have impact they must get a victory tonight.
The Lakers need to keep feeding the post consistently. Feeding the ball into Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will open things up for Kobe Bryant and the other Lakers outside shooters. Feeding the post could get some very good looks when teams collapse to help out on Howard and Gasol. If the Lakers have a balanced inside out game and take the next level step defensively during the countdown run they may have a chance to prove to everyone they can be the Lakers who can do damage in the playoffs.
If they get in, can they win a championship? Dwight Howard's answer is "yes, we can!" But, if they can’t cover on the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown wins they need . . . they’re done!