USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers have been fighting an uphill battle with the .500 mark the entire season. Tonight, they have a chance to finally put it in the rear view mirror for good.
Do you know the significance of Tuesday, November 20th, 2012? It was the two week anniversary of the re-election of Barack Obama. The final Twilight movie was raking in the dough at the box office. It also happens to have some other significance ... it was the only night this season that the Los Angeles Lakers were a winning basketball team. That night, they defeated the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 in Bernie Bickerstaff's last game as active head coach to reach the impressive record of 6-5. The next night, the Lakers lost in Sacramento, and they've been fighting an uphill battle to get back to .500 ever since.
Six times since November 20th, the Los Angeles Lakers have reached the .500 plateau, and six times they have lost. Some of these losses have been understandable; it's tough to win in Oklahoma City or in Denver. Some of them have been atrocious; at home to Orlando? Philadelphia? Six times the Lakers have had a chance to get a monkey off their back and call themselves a winning team, and they have failed to do so every single time. Failing tonight would be the worst of the lot.
Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers face the Toronto Raptors from the friendly confines of Staples Center. Toronto is 14 games under .500, 24-38 on the season. They are 9-22 on the road. The acquisition of Rudy Gay has been a dramatic improvement, as they have lost 5-6 of their last six contests. The Lakers have lost to worse teams than Toronto at home, but since the All Star break (or, really, any time in the last month), the Lakers have not lost a single game that you would not expect them to lose. The difference between the abhorrent Lakers of January and the solid Lakers of March is not that the Lakers have suddenly cured all their ailments or started playing like the juggernaut they were expected to be. No, the difference between January and March is that the Lakers are no longer failing to take care of business against those teams that are easiest to take care of. They should take care of Toronto tonight, and following that, they have many more games which they should be able to take care of business in.
Tonight, the Lakers should cross the threshold of .500, and with luck, they will never have to look back and see its ugly tendrils around their feet again. This team is better than a .500 team, and they need to be better than a .500 team in order to achieving the mediocre goal that they have left themselves. Tonight, they can finally, officially, become a winning team again.
May that title lead them to bigger and better things. Once they get it, that is.