There has been a quiet truth about the L.A. Lakers this season that rarely carries above the din of Laker peril and schadenfreude. That truth is that the Lakers were never as bad as their win-loss record indicated. For much of the season, the Lakers' point differential has been that of a slightly above average team ... which is in total disagreement with a win-loss record that showed a fairly bad team. Here's a look at the team's cumulative average point differential this season.

It's totally unspectacular ... but totally not bad. And look how far it goes back: the Lakers haven't had a negative cumulative point differential since early November. Yet they are still under .500. Typically we would attribute the disparity between what point differential indicates the team should be (a little above .500) and what the record actually shows (substantially below .500 until this week) and chalk it up to luck, or the lack thereof. Given the Lakers' extraordinary fortune over the past 40 years, perhaps this time we'll just call it regression to the mean.

Speaking of which ...

When we look at the Lakers' recent rise in the standings -- L.A. has gone 11-4 since the last week of January, and is now just one game under .500 and 2.5 games out of the No. 8 seed -- we may want to see a team that has cracked the code, figured it out and will now proceed to soar. Instead, we see a team playing pretty much playing like it has been all season long ... but it picking up wins instead of losses.