Lakers are riding a five-game winning streak
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are soaring Reuters

Even on an off-shooting night, the Los Angeles Lakers have no problem getting a road win against the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Lakers shot just 37.5 percent from the field on Tuesday night, but it was still enough to win by 11 points.

So is the current state of the Lakers.

Perhaps the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that extended a three-game losing streak was the wake-up call. Maybe it was the rest after the All-Star break. Players might be a little more relaxed now that all the trade rumors are history.

It also could be that Kobe Bryant is the best player in the world, and it's only a matter of time before he picks his team up from their doldrums.

Whatever the reason, the back-to-back Champions seem to be back.

The Lakers are riding a five-game win streak, and are on their way back home for a Friday game against the Charlotte Bobcats who have a 10-19 road record.

Indeed, things have picked up for the purple and gold.

The Lakers have their eyes on the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs, as they're not far off from the Dallas Mavericks, another team that is surging at the moment with a seven-game win streak.

Though the second seed is an attainable goal, the first seed probably isn't. The San Antonio Spurs are seven games ahead of the Lakers, and have played excellent basketball all season.

How good the Lakers are compared to the Spurs will be tested when the two teams meet on Sunday in San Antonio.

It will be a game many will reference in May should the two teams meet in the Western Conference Finals.

Should the Spurs maintain the best record in the West, they will have home-court advantage on the Lakers, and that might give them the edge to eliminate the Lakers, and prevent them from a fourth-straight trip to the NBA Finals.

In other words, Phil Jackson's squad better enjoy their home game against the Bobcats on Friday, because the road trip that starts in San Antonio may have severe implications on the whether the Lakers can close the gap with the Spurs, and try to win their third-straight Finals.

The four-game road trip also includes Atlanta, Miami and Dallas. These next four games will basically be a better test than the five games the Lakers have since the All-Star break.

The ability to beat good teams on the road is usually the best indicator of how strong a team is.

The question now is, are the Lakers able to meet the challenge?