Lakers power forward Pau Gasol pulls up for a jumper over Orlando power forward… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)
Dallas isn't the only team the Lakers are trying to catch.
They're letting their eyes wander to the Eastern Conference, watching how Boston fares, what Chicago is doing, whom Miami is playing.
The Lakers almost surely won't win the Western Conference, but they'll try to secure home-court advantage against everybody else with a month left in the regular season.
Lakers show they are serious in win over Magic
It's why Coach Phil Jackson was watching Boston lose to New Jersey an hour before the Lakers tipped off against Orlando on Monday.
"We're paying attention to it," he said. "But there's not a whole lot we can do about it anymore. We just can watch it."
You could sense mild frustration in his voice. The Lakers (48-20) have wasted some opportunities for sure, swept by Miami in the season series and splitting with Boston and Chicago.
Monday marked the Lakers' last regular-season game against the East.
With San Antonio (54-13) so far ahead in the West, the Lakers' obvious priority is to finish ahead of the Mavericks (47-19), whom they beat in Dallas on Saturday.
But comments by Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins will make them take notice of the Thunder as well, in case they somehow forgot about their tense first-round series last season.
The former Celtics center still dislikes the Lakers, according to an interview he gave ESPN the Magazine.
"Yesterday's news," he said of the Lakers. "I don't like Pau Gasol or Phil Jackson. Phil is arrogant. Pau is soft. Kobe [Bryant] tries to bring out his toughness, but he's still soft."
The Lakers have been able to close in on Perkins' former team because the Celtics have lost three of their last four games to teams that are average at best (Philadelphia, the Clippers and New Jersey).
Chicago (47-18) and Boston (47-18) are now tied for first in the East. Miami (46-21) is third.
The Lakers have 11 of their last 15 games at home, a presumed advantage ... perhaps.
"I worry about the fact that everybody says we're going to have the rest of March on our home floor," Jackson said. "It's not going to be easier. It's going to be just as hard. We have to play just as hard."
Where's Theo Ratliff?
The handful of reporters at Monday morning's shoot-around wanted to know one thing: How was Bryant's sprained left ankle?
But across the court, after the Lakers were done game-planning for Orlando, Theo Ratliff could be seen working out with athletic performance coordinator Alex McKechnie.
Ratliff has done next to nothing in his only season with the Lakers, sidelined since Nov. 9. He has endured numerous setbacks in his attempt to come back from surgery to have cartilage removed from his left knee. There is still no timetable for his return.
"We'll see about it," Jackson said. "We'll see how this one goes."
Ratliff turns 38 next month. The Lakers aren't expecting much from him even if he is medically cleared to play. He is averaging 0.3 points and 1.6 rebounds a game.