Laker Nation: To say 2013 was not the Lakers’ year would be an understatement. From the passing of owner Dr. Jerry Buss to franchise players suffering major injuries to big name players opting to leave Los Angeles, it was a year to forget for the purple and gold.
Although it seemed fitting that 2013 ended on such a negative note as the injury-riddled Lakers finished the year with six straight losses, including three in a row to the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks, teams considered to be the worst in the NBA.
As a result, the Lakers will start 2014 with a 13-19 record and unfortunately for the team and fans, things will not get easier in January.
This month, the Lakers will play 15 games, starting this Friday with a home matchup versus the Jazz and Sunday as they host the Denver Nuggets. From that point on, they will hit the road for 10 out of their next 11 games with notable match-ups against the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat. Those 10 road games include the seven game Grammy road trip.
When the Lakers return home on January 28, the Indiana Pacers await them, and then will finish off January versus the Charlotte Bobcats at home.
Six games under .500 with a depleted squad that once again lost point guard Jordan Farmar due to another tear in his left hamstring, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the team, which is again dealing with trade rumors involving disgruntled Pau Gasol and unhappy veterans such as Chris Kaman.
With 50 games left in the season, the Lakers need to start winning games immediately if they have any hopes of making the playoffs. The Western Conference is once again strong and teams will need to be north of .500 to get into the playoffs, unlike in the Eastern Conference where the current fourth seed, Toronto Raptors, are 14-15 while the eighth seed Celtics are 13-18.
Since 2008 (excluding the lockout season), the minimum number of games to reach the playoffs was 45 wins. If that continues to stay true, the Lakers will need to go 32-18 over the final 50 games just to reach that number.
January is a make or break month for the Lakers. Last year, this team made a run towards the playoffs, which coincidentally started in January but this time around, it will be even more difficult with even more injuries, inconsistent offensive, poor defense and questions as to when Kobe will return and if Steve Nash will play again this season.
A few games ago, head coach Mike D’Antoni said this team was ready to turn the corner, then they proceeded to lose to three of the worst teams in the league. With a 6-10 road record, 10 out of 15 games on the road will be a challenge that needs to be met if this season is to be salvaged.
If the losing continues, the Lakers will miss the playoffs for only the sixth time in their history and will be trying their luck in the NBA Draft lottery come June.
Fri, Jan. 3 – vs Utah Jazz
Sun, Jan 5 – vs Denver Nuggets
Tue, Jan 7 – @ Dallas Mavericks
Wed, Jan 8 – @ Houston Rockets
Fri, Jan 10 – @ Los Angeles Clippers
Tue, Jan 14 – vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Wed, Jan 15 – @ Phoenix Suns
Fri, Jan 17 – @ Boston Celtics
Sun, Jan 19 – @ Toronto Raptors
Mon, Jan 20 – @ Chicago Bulls
Thu, Jan 23 – @ Miami Heat
Fri, Jan 24 – @ Orlando Magic
Sun, Jan 26 – @ New York Knicks
Tue, Jan 28 – vs Indian Pacers
Fri, Jan 31 – vs Charlotte Bobcats