The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t get to enjoy the return of LeBron James very much as they put up a dispiriting effort in their loss to the Chicago Bulls.
James came off the bench for just the second time in his career and managed to score 19 points in 30 minutes of action. James beat the rumored timeline that he would return in the Lakers’ final three games of the 2022-23 season, giving himself more time to get re-acclimated with the team.
While it was good to see the King moving well on the court, the unfortunate outcome of the game dropped Los Angeles back down to No. 9 in the standings. The Oklahoma City Thunder remain right on their heels, but fortunately enough the Lakers own the tiebreaker and were able to avoid slipping down to No. 10. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans were able to move up to No 8.
Despite the minor setback, the purple and gold are still only two games or fewer behind the L.A. Clippers and Golden State Warriors for the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds, giving them an outside shot to avoid the Play-In Tournament entirely. However, with only seven games remaining in the season that seems like a far-fetched idea.
The more probable scenario is L.A. captures either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed, but in order to do so they would most likely need a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves this coming Friday. The Timberwolves own the tiebreaker over the Lakers, making it one of their most important games to date.
Before that, though, Los Angeles needs to gear up for a rematch against Chicago. The Bulls outperformed their shooting expectations, so there’s some optimism that the Lakers will fare better the second time around.
Lakers standings update
5. Clippers (39-36)
Upcoming schedule: vs. Bulls (March 27), @ Grizzlies (March 29), @ Grizzlies (March 31)
6. Warriors (39-37)
Upcoming schedule: vs. Pelicans (March 28), vs. Spurs (March 31), @ Nuggets (April 2)
7. Timberwolves (38-37)
Upcoming schedule: @ Kings (March 27), @ Suns (March 29), vs. Lakers (March 31)
8. Pelicans (36-37)
Upcoming schedule: @ Blazers (March 27), @ Warriors (March 28), @ Nuggets (March 30)
9. Lakers (37-38)
Upcoming schedule: @ Bulls (March 29), @ Timberwolves (March 31), @ Rockets (April 2)
10. Thunder (37-38)
Upcoming schedule: vs. Hornets (March 28), vs. Pistons (March 29), @ Pacers (March 31)
11. Mavericks (36-39)
Upcoming schedule: @ Pacers (March 27), @ 76ers (March 29), @ Heat (April 1)
12. Jazz (35-39)
Upcoming schedule: vs. Suns (March 27), @ Spurs (March 29), @ Celtics (March 31)
13. Trail Blazers (32-42)
Upcoming schedule: vs. Pelicans (March 27), vs. Kings (March 29), vs. Kings (March 31)
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