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Mike D'Antoni looking for consistency as Lakers' season winds down

In the past week, the Lakers gave up an average of 136 points in losses to New Orleans, the Clippers and Denver but beat Portland and Oklahoma City.

March 10, 2014|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers center Pau Gasol, middle, loses control of the ball while being double-teamed by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and guard Willie Green during the Lakers' blowout loss Thursday. Inconsistent performances in recent games makes it somewhat difficult to decipher what the Lakers are capable of accomplishing in their final 18 games.
Lakers center Pau Gasol, middle, loses control of the ball while being double-teamed… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers will probably be mathematically eliminated next week from a playoff spot, four weeks before the regular season ends.

That's what happens when you go 10-29 since Dec. 21.

But Coach Mike D'Antoni still wants some consistency from them over their final 18 games.

They got drilled by the Clippers last week, lost a home game to New Orleans and were no-shows in Denver. Yet they beat Portland and Oklahoma City in the span of seven days.

It's fine to be confused.

"OK, we've done it a couple times, two out of five, but can we do it four out of five?" D'Antoni said. "Can we do it consistently? Hopefully, some of it will stick."

Probably not.

The Lakers (22-42) face perhaps their toughest back-to-back this season Thursday at Oklahoma City and Friday at San Antonio. Ouch.

In their defense, they looked strong in a 114-110 victory Sunday over Oklahoma City, holding Kevin Durant almost five points below his average and limiting the Thunder to 42% shooting.

It was more than odd to see the Lakers play well defensively after their worst three-game defensive stretch in team history — 408 combined points against the Hornets, Clippers and Nuggets (136 a game on average).

D'Antoni thought he knew why Sunday was different.

"It's crazy, but I think sharing the basketball. Feeling good about one end transfers to the other end," he said.

Thunder stopped

The Lakers' gain meant more Thunder pain.

Oklahoma City (46-17) has lost five of its last eight games, not exactly peaking to start the final quarter of the regular season.

"In some games, someone will have 40 points on you that is not supposed to have 40," Durant said, referring to Jodie Meeks' career-high 42-point outburst Sunday.

Oklahoma City owns winning streaks of eight, nine and 10 games this season but has lost momentum, to say the least, with home games coming up against Houston and the Lakers this week.

"We need to have a sense of urgency, knowing that teams are coming at us every night," said point guard Russell Westbrook, who made seven of 23 shots against the Lakers. "I missed some shots, but I do not think the game is all about shooting."

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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