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Lakers still just three games out of sixth place in the West

December 15, 2012|By Eric Pincus
  • Kobe Bryant celebrates during the closing minutes of the Lakers' 102-96 win over the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center.
Kobe Bryant celebrates during the closing minutes of the Lakers'… (Rob Carr / Getty Images )

After breaking their four-game losing streak, the Lakers finally won their 10th game of the season.

Now at just 10-14, the Lakers are 12th in the Western Conference standings and 21st overall.  Of course the team has much higher expectations once Steve Nash (leg) and Pau Gasol (knees) return from injury.

The hope is that by Dec. 22 or even on Christmas Day at Staples Center (against the New York Knicks), the Lakers will have their true starting lineup on the floor. The core of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Nash and Gasol had played all of 1 1/2 games together when Nash went down.

Despite their struggles, the Lakers are only three games behind the sixth-place Minnesota Timberwolves heading into Saturday.

It may be a trick for the Lakers to catch the fifth-place Warriors, unless Golden State significantly tails off after a strong start.

If the first goal is sixth place, the Lakers will need to overtake the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and Wolves.

Naturally, the goal for the team is to climb as high as possible in the West, but at a minimum, the Lakers just need to be in the top eight to make the postseason. Ideally, by April the team will be fully healthy and well-versed in Coach Mike D'Antoni's offense.

As such, they could be one of the most powerful eighth-seeded teams in history.

ALSO:

Jodie Meeks' best game of season helps Lakers topple Wizards

Globetrotters invite Kobe Bryant to battle Washington Generals

Lakers end four-game losing streak with victory over Wizards, 102-96

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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