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Spiraling Lakers still within reach of playoffs

January 24, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Lakers point guard Steve Nash with the Rockets' Jeremy Lin. The Lakers are only three losses behind the eighth-seeded Houston Rockets.
Lakers point guard Steve Nash with the Rockets' Jeremy Lin. The Lakers… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )

The way the Lakers (17-25) are playing, there's no reason to expect them to make the playoffs.

If, however, they suddenly figured out how to play basketball together, the Lakers are only three losses behind the eighth-seeded Houston Rockets (22-22).

The Lakers still play the Rockets on April 17, the final day of the season. A Lakers victory would tie the season series at two apiece. If the Lakers finish with the better conference record, they would need to outpace the Rockets by two losses the rest of the way. As poorly as the Lakers have played of late, Houston has matched the Lakers over the last 10 games.

Of course the Lakers would also need to overcome the Portland Trail Blazers (21-21), who they'll see two more times. A Lakers sweep means the tiebreaker with two additional losses to make up in the standings.

The Lakers still haven't seen the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-22). If the Lakers take all three meetings, they'd have to just match the Wolves' record the rest of the way.

Finally, the Dallas Mavericks (18-24) have climbed ahead of the Lakers but with two more head-to-head battles to come.

As awful as the season has been, the Lakers are still in the running for a playoff spot. They'll need to dominate the four teams in their way, while outpacing them against the rest of the league.

The difficult part is envisioning the Lakers beating anyone right now, but the window is still open for a postseason berth if something, somehow, suddenly clicked.

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

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