The Los Angeles Lakers are quietly starting to put things together. And no, it’s not because they have realed off three Tweet of the Day/Night’s in a row (see below).
They are 12-5 in their last 17 games, and 7-3 since losing Pau Gasol for 6-8 weeks with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot on February 5 against the Brooklyn Nets.
As Gasol is methodically working his way through rehab, the Lakers have climbed within 2.5 games of the up-and-down Houston Rockets and three games of the Utah Jazz.
Gasol’s initial diagnosis would peg him for an early April return to the court. But while Gasol continues to make progress, it is still unlikely that he will be able to contribute anything to the Lakers until mid April if they are fortunate enough to be playing in the playoffs.
Fortunately for the Lakers, Kobe is keeping up the torrid pace he began the year with — averaging 27.2 points per game — Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are beginning to find their roles in D’Antoni’s offense and the role-players are filling in the void left by Gasol.
A win tomorrow night against the Atlanta Hawks would bring the Lakers back to .500 on the season. A respectable 30-30 after they fell to 17-25 just over a month ago.
After five days off, the Lakers embark on a stretch of winnable games: Atlanta tomorrow night, followed by Oklahoma City (ok, not so winnable), New Orleans, Chicago, Toronto, Orlando, Atlanta again and Sacramento.
A 6-2 record in those eight games should not be out of the question.
While the majority of their games in March will be on the road, the Lakers will finish the regular season with three games at Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors (who they’ve beaten twice already), the Spurs who may be resting their key players for the playoffs, and, of course, the Houston Rockets to end the season.
Keep that one marked on your calendar.
I know Pau Gasol will.
Ben Baroff is a sports journalist and marketing professional who blogs and writes columns for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.