Golden State Warriors forward David Lee, left, and guard Stephen Curry,… (Chuck Burton / Associated…)
Is it too early to scoreboard watch?
The Golden State Warriors lost in Sacramento to the Kings, 131-127, on Wednesday night, falling to 17-9.
Given how poorly the Lakers have started the season (12-14), the team has significant ground to make up in the Western Conference and the Pacific Division. With the Warriors dropping a game to the Kings, the Lakers are now five full games behind.
Assuming the Lakers dramatically improve with the return of Pau Gasol (already back) and Steve Nash (presumably within a week), the team will need to climb from 12th in the West to at least eighth to make the playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are all ahead of the Lakers in the standings, but within reach. Denver, at 14-12, is sixth in the West, two games in front of the Lakers.
The Lakers will visit the Warriors on Saturday night. They also travel to Golden State in March and host the Warriors at Staples Center in April. If the Lakers sweep all three, the gap between the two franchises may not be as large as it seems.
The Warriors have been a very solid team this season. The Lakers are going to have to win at a very high percentage the rest of the way if they want a shot at supplanting Golden State as the fifth seed in the West.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.