One day, no game scheduled and the Los Angeles Lakers come out like they won three games at once. That’s what happens when all three rivals for the final playoff spot lose, as the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz lost on the same day.
Suddenly, the Lakers are above .500, but not only that. Their one of the hottest teams in the NBA at the moment, winning 7 of their last 10 games. The Jazz? Free falling, to 8th in the West, and losing four in a row. The Warriors? Dropped to 35-29, 6th in the West, but finding it hard to get into a winning rhythm in the second half of the season. The Houston Rockets are also in some sort of win-lose limbo, unable to create separation from the group, currently at 7th in the West, going 5-5 in their last 10 games.
So how good was it for the Lakers on Saturday? The Houston Rockets lost 107-105 in Phoenix to the Suns, as the formula of James Harden scoring 38 points and Jeremy Lin having a bad night continues to work the wrong kind of magic for Houston, who have found more success recently when they had a more adjusted box score, with Chandler Parsons chipping in as well. Jared Dudley, who was constantly mentioned as a trade target last month, led the Suns with 22 points, as the Rockets dropped to 34-30, 7th in the West and 1.5 games ahead of the Lakers.
The Warriors lost at home against a familiar face, losing 103-93 to the Milwaukee Bucks who had Brandon Jennings (31 points, 10 assists) and Monta Ellis (26 points) doing most of the damage, while both sharpshooters for the Warriors, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, were having off shooting nights, combining for 14-35 from the field and 4-11 from three. The Warriors are now fifth, 34-29, 2.5 games ahead of the Lakers.
The Utah Jazz are in the worst situation following their terrible 113-84 loss in New York to the Knicks, who were playing without Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. The Jazz have now lost four in a row and are tied with the Lakers for the 8th spot, both teams with a 32-31 record.
Because of Utah’s terrible form, it looks like the Blazers and Mavs are back in the race. The Blazers are only two games behind the Lakers and Jazz at 29-32, while the Dallas Mavericks are three games behind at 28-33. Both teams don’t look to have the consistency and depth to match the others in the playoff race, while it’s hard to see Golden State and Houston, two good teams who seem to be stuck in an inconsistent patch, actually collapsing till the end of the season as long as their stars stay healthy. The same can’t be said for the Jazz, who can’t even keep their home fans from witnessing some painful losses.
The Lakers haven’t turned it around just yet, but it’s getting there. With Kobe Bryant playing the way he is; Dwight Howard suddenly getting along, more or less, while Steve Nash continues to do whatever it takes – passing or scoring, to complete the picture, maybe the season won’t end so soon after all.