Bernucca: Lackluster Lakers fooling themselves and their fans

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After that, the Lakers play 10 of their next 13 games on the road. If they go 10-5 in that stretch – a highly optimistic projection based on what they have shown thus far – they will merely be back at .500 as they prepare for two home games before the All-Star break.

And they don’t figure to get much rest then, either. Bryant and Howard are shoo-ins as All-Star starters. Nash may be asked to participate in the Skills Challenge. It is not a pretty picture.

The Lakers are in trouble. D’Antoni can pretend that the season started Sunday. But it ends April 17, and there is nothing he can do to change that date.

TRIVIA: The Los Angeles Lakers last missed the playoffs in 2005. Four players from that squad remain active. Who are they? Answer below.

THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: Someone at the Associated Press was a bit overmatched by multitasking, as evidenced by this paragraph from Saturday’s Bobcats-Pacers game:

Bismack Biyomobo and Warrick led the way for the Broncos early in the third as they pushed the lead to 56-51. Indiana, however, answered with a 13-2 run to go up 64-56, and the Pacers didn’t trail again.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, trying to remain optimistic after the injuries to stars Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol depleted his slumping team:

“In New York, Amar’e and Melo went down and then Linsanity happened, so, who knows? It might be Morrisanity next week.”

LINE OF THE WEEK: Mario Chalmers, Miami at Sacramento, January 12: 30 minutes, 12-16 FGs, 10-12 3-pointers, 0-0 FTs, two rebounds, three assists, two steals, two turnovers, 34 points in a 128-99 win. Often obscured by the ”Big Three,” Chalmers became the first Heat player to lead the team in scoring when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all play. He established a career high in points and tied Brian Shaw’s team record for 3-pointers in a game.

LINE OF THE WEAK: Carmelo Anthony, New York vs. Boston, Jan. 7: 37 minutes, 6-26 FGs, 4-12 3-pointers, 4-7 FTs, three rebounds, five assists, one steal, two turnovers, five fouls, 20 points in a 102-96 loss. Season highs in missed shots and 3-pointers attempted, nearly a season low in rebounds, his fewest points since November, a technical foul and a foolish decision to continue a war of words with Kevin Garnett at the team bus, earning a one-game suspension. All in all, a night to forget for Anthony.

TRILLION WATCH: A fantastic week for both aspiring and true trillionaires. Minnesota’s Lou Amundson took a shot to spoil an 8 trillion at Oklahoma City on Wednesday. One night later in Indianapolis, New York’s Ronnie Brewer had an assist to ruin an 8 trillion while Indiana’s D.J. Augustin had a rebound to wreck what would have been a spectacular 14 trillion. Among true trillionaires, a shoulder injury saddled Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace with a 6 trillion Friday vs. Phoenix. But San Antonio’s Matt Bonner had ‘em all beat with an 8 trillion Monday at New Orleans. Bonner tied Brooklyn’s Josh Childress for the best disappearing act of the season.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Memphis at San Antonio, January 16. The first two meetings between these very scrappy teams have gone to overtime, with each team winning at home. On Dec. 1, San Antonio rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. On Friday, Memphis survived Tony Parker’s 3-pointer at the regulation horn and pitched a shutout for the final 3:35 of OT.

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