Even amid the talent dropoff, the reduced drama and ever-increasing injuries, the Lakers have suddenly found themselves in the same spot they were in last season. The Lakers’ 112-106 victory Sunday over the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre officially marked the season’s halfway point. Despite the Lakers appearing in high spirits following their first two-game winning streak in a month, a looming prospect hovers over them. The Lakers (16-25) have fared one game worse than last year’s squad at this point. They only snuck into the first round as a seventh seed after closing out the season 28-12. But that year’s team still had a prolific Kobe Bryant and a more engaged and healthier Dwight Howard to compensate for the endless infighting. This year’s team has far more persisting injuries to its backcourt and currently ranks 12th in a bloated Western Conference. Yet, the Lakers have continued fighting, going 2-1 thus far on a seven-game trip with another stop tonight in Chicago. “We don’t think about it because we’ve got to get the team right,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Mathematically, we’re not out so why even think about it in that sense. We’re not doomed for anything, if we just keep plugging along, maybe we’ll get some luck here, and get some guys back.” Do the Lakers have enough to overcome such obstacles? “I think we do,” said forward Pau Gasol after posting 22 points on 8-of-20 shooting and nine rebounds. “The Western Conference is tougher than it was last year, but at the same time, I think we can make a really good run toward the second half of the season once we get bodies back.” If only the Lakers were in the Eastern Conference. Then they’d only trail two games for an eighth playoff seed. Then they could play more teams, such as the Raptors (20-19), who squandered a 19-point lead.
Lakers stretch win streak to two, beat Toronto Raptors to reach season’s midpoint
L.A. Daily News | Jan 20