The Los Angeles Lakers still own the best record in the NBA after Christmas but the Los Angeles Clippers have now proven that they have the answer to the riddle needed to win the battle for LA. Not once but twice.
However, it may not be the Clippers that have found the answer. It may have been gifted to them. Up until December 15, the Lakers have been on a tear, destroying anyone and everyone they meet. But their tough December schedule is starting to catch up with them and they have now lost four straight games.
After beating the Hawks in Atlanta, the Lakers went over to Indiana and lost a close one to the Pacers. Though we can’t say it wasn’t expected to be a challenging game. The last time the Lakers had played in Indiana, they lost by a whopping 42 points –the worst loss that Lebron James has ever taken.
The game was a back and forth battle that came down to a buzzer shot by Rajon Rondo that bounced out. That made four straight wins for the Pacers and 12 of their last 15. It’s important to note that AD did not play. He sprained his ankle against the Hawks on the previous Sunday. Sabonis dominant in the paint and I have to think that this particular game would have gone another way with Anthony Davis under the rim.
Next, the Lakers had to go to Milwaukee to face the Bucks, who are still the best team out east. Anthony Davis was on the hardwood for this one, yet the Lakers still couldn’t get it done. It was one many of us expected the Lakers to lose. Playing the other best team in the league in their house is never easy, and the home away scoring margin indicated that the Lakers could lose by six or seven points. So it was a surprise that the NBA odds had the Lakers as four-point favorites on the road and many cappers over at SBR Forum had them to cover the number.
The tone was set early when James came in for a jump shot near the baseline and Giannis came in from behind to show him exactly how high the roof is in Milwaukee. At one point the Bucks were up 43 to 24 in the second quarter. Still, the Lakers battled back to lose by just seven.
Davis came off his sprain and scored a double-double in the loss, picking up 10 rebounds and scoring 36 points, so we can’t attribute a poor performance on his part to the loss. Danny Green put up 21, LBJ put up 21 and Pope put up 18, so there was contribution all around, and you can’t really call 104 points a bad offensive effort. They were simply out-scored by the best home offense in the league. 111 points are actually bad for the Bucks at Fiserv Forum. They normally score over 120 so, the Lakers did well on defense to slow them down. They just needed a few more Buckets. This leads me to believe that in a series, these teams will be very well matched and go back and forth on wins, which is exactly what we might see come NBA Finals time.
After getting blasted by the Nuggets in LA and then a small loss to the Clippers on Christmas day, the Lakers get Thursday and Friday to rest before heading to Portland to play a Rip City team that has won four of their last five. The Trail Blazers have scratched their way back into the top eight and are trying to get back to .500. This should be a good game as the Blazers averaged 114.3 points per game at home, while the Lakers average 112.35 on the road. Defensively, the Zers allow 111.7 in the Moda Center and the Lakers allow just 106.35 on the road, the No. 6 road D in the NBA.
The Blazers are a tough team to play when in Portland, and they have found some momentum after a slow start to the 2019 season. The Lakers should get back on track with a when up in P-Town. I predict Lebron and company pull off a close win by the Max tracks. Lakers break the streak and win by three.