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T.J. Simers

A whole lot of maybes and might-have-beens for the Lakers

With this record, are they really a playoff team? And how different it could have been for them, with so many other teams in the West now struggling.

April 06, 2013|T.J. Simers

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My neurologist Dr. Doojin Kim said he could find nothing between my ears.

"Nothing to be worried about," he said in offering great news after showing me brain tests, while predicting in his own way I would last longer around here than Steve Alford.

Yet I was almost forced to call 911.

I told one team official I would be around for some time, and I thought I was going to have to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on him.

You probably had the same reaction when learning the contract of UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero had been extended to 2019.

How does the athletic director at UCLA — who still speaks of John Wooden as if he matters, with a new statue of Wooden outside Pauley — stage a news conference on the Nellie and John Wooden Court to announce the hiring of the top disciple of Wooden's No. 1 naysayer, Bob Knight?

And get a raise as a result?

Based on everything that is being sent to me detailing how Alford has turned off so many elsewhere, when Guerrero said he vetted Alford, I wonder if that means he just looked at a media guide.

Oh well, that just means I get to write about Guerrero until 2019, and won't that be fun.

As good as I now feel, I've also agreed to spend time with Jim Mora even though Mora will have a club in his hand. My good buddy called to invite me to his May 20th golf tournament at Riviera.

Now how do you turn down someone who is so dedicated to raising money for children at risk that he has his own family foundation, Count on Me? That's my kind of guy.

Of course we still have to work out the details. But I presume I'll be staked out on one of the par-threes, allowing the Bruins' faithful a chance to get closest to the numskull and win prizes. Keep in mind that's "closest."

Right now nothing can hurt me after hearing from Dr. Kim, my future probably brighter than the Lakers'.

I'm not even sure the Lakers have a future.

That's where I sit this Friday night before the game, a question whether the Lakers can beat the Grizzlies and Clippers this weekend, a far cry from the time when we thought they were a lock to play the Heat in the Finals.

So what do you think, Mike D'Antoni, knowing it would only be a matter of seconds before I got an "I don't know."

"That's our plan," said D'Antoni.

"I know what your plan is," I said. "What do you think?"

"I don't know," said D'Antoni.

Do you figure you are a playoff team? I asked, and who better to ask than the guy hired to coach the Lakers into the playoffs?

"I hope we are," he said. "Yeah, I mean we're good enough to be…"

Are they? They are now 3-13 against the top five teams in the West after blowing a lead and then squeezing past Memphis, so why does he think the team is suddenly good enough to be playoff-worthy?

As I continued to quiz him, he just shut up, closed his eyes and looked like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz wishing she might find herself elsewhere.

Then he just plain got rattled, and began talking like a man asked if he had any last words and wanted to say a lot.

"We are good enough to be a playoff team, injuries happen, people get sick, the world comes to an end, I don't know until we get in, we're not in and we're going to play every game the way we're supposed to play it and we're going to play as hard as we can play and hopefully we can get in," said D'Antoni without taking a breath or throwing in a period anywhere.

It might be the most impressive thing he's done since arriving.

And doesn't that say a lot, Utah just pathetic and the Lakers having to fight every inch of the way to nose them out.

What difference has D'Antoni meant this season?

Doesn't D'Antoni need to show something more before anyone thinks next season will be any different, or he should return as coach?

He's certainly not inspiring. For the most part he usually sounds beleaguered, befuddled or beaten.

As disappointing as the Lakers have been, it's crushing to know now what might have been, given what's happened recently in the West.

San Antonio and Denver have been hit hard with injuries, the Clippers haven't shown the toughness that nudged them ahead a year ago and without Rudy Gay, Memphis can't score from the outside. If the Grizzlies could, they would have beaten the Lakers.

Oklahoma City isn't as strong without James Harden, but is appearing like the best in the West. And the Thunder will probably be the Lakers' opponent in Round 1.

I think I know what D'Antoni would say if asked if the Lakers can hang with the Thunder.

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