Eight days after I wrote my little analysis, the Celtics have dropped to sixth best record after losses to the Clippers, Suns and Mighty Denver sandwiched around their magnificent win over the injured and exhausted Warriors. And their point differential is now ninth best in the league, which doesn’t bode well for them in the playoffs.
On aother front, my Lakers have stormed ahead in the race to Fall for Ball™ by an enormous two wins. Tonight’s clutch loss to the competitively tanking 76ers was a thing of beauty. Philly overcame an 11-point fourth quarter lead to trail by 1 with 1:12 left in the game. That’s when the Lakers got in gear (reverse), forcing a late 1–6 run on the Sixers that iced the game at 113–117 with twelve seconds left.
Coach Walton set up a brilliant out of bounds play with three Lakers clustered together outside the 3-point line surrounded by defenders and D’Angelo Russell clearing his mind of all thoughts in this game deciding moment, including the play that was called.
Happily, I saw 18% three point ace Larry Nance run to the left baseline and set up to shoot. “Shoot!” I cheered at the television. Unfortunately, no one sent the hard working role player the memo, and his shot hit nothing but net with five seconds left.
I was crestfallen, but there was still the chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as the Lakers brilliantly fouled instead of stealing the ball and held on for a two point loss.
The focus required for their latest 1–9 run helped them roar behind the Suns, who inexplicably decided to start winning games, has been impressive. Only the unfortunate win against their chief western rival has prevented the Lakers from sewing up the record for the second most losses in the league. Had they only lost to the Suns, the Lakers would have an enormous four-win deficit with only sixteen games remaining.
Fortunately, the Lakers have one of the toughest schedules left in the league, and only the home game against the Kings threatens the team with an unwanted win.
There’s work ahead for the Purple and Gold to secure those extra lottery balls. Things are looking really down for the Lakers.