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In Winning and in Losing, Lakers Excel

At 25-6, the Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the league. And with Boston entering an injury induced free fall, there's a fair chance they will keep the best record for a while, at least until they lose two more games and the Cleveland Cavaliers pass them en route to a 30 game win streak. So, it goes without saying that the Lakers are one of the best, if not the best, teams in the league at winning basketball games.

But they sure know how to lose games, too.

On the rare occasion that the Lakers actually lose a game, they really commit to the loss. The Lakers have only lost six games this season, but each loss has been by more than double digits except for one, the loss in Utah to the Jazz 102-94, and even that game was a blowout which was not as close as the final score would indicate. The 5 other losses (@Denver, @Phoenix, Houston, Cleveland, Dallas) all could have just as easily been called at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Which is why, if you think about it, it should come as absolutely no surprise that the Lakers have the 4th worst loss margin in the league. A Laker loss hardly ever happens, but when it does, the Lakers lose by an average of over 14 points per loss. The only teams getting blown out worse per loss are Toronto, Chicago, and Minnesota. When the Lakers lose, they do so in worse fashion than the New Jersey Nets. That's a fine group of teams to be lumped into when you have visions of a championship, isn't it?

So why are all Lakers losses blow outs? I'm not even sure that question can be properly analyzed, because it can be taken many different ways.

Glass half full approach - The Lakers are always winning close games

A by-product of all the Lakers losses being blowouts is that, by definition, the Lakers are winning all of their close games. And there have certainly been a few games this year that the Lakers have won which could very easily have been losses. Kobe's two game winners come to mind, but there was also that back-to-back OT set early in the season with the OKC Thunder and Houston Rockets, both very close games.

This option is undoubtedly true, because the Lakers are always winning close games. And it is a good thing to have a team know with full confidence that they can close out a close game. But the truth is, the Lakers simply haven't been involved in that many close games, 5 of them to be exact. Only Atlanta has played in less games (4) decided by 5 points or less, with Cleveland, Denver and a couple of really bad teams also at 5 total games. But the Lakers are the only undefeated team under those circumstances, and no one else is really all that close.

Glass half empty approach - The Lakers have gotten really lucky in close games this year, and are likely to fall off once it catches up to them.

The main proponent of this argument is, of course, the shot Kobe hit against Miami. Kobe himself called it the luckiest shot he's ever hit. But there have been plenty of other games that the Lakers looked dead in, only to make a surprising comeback. The buzzer beater against Milwaukee followed a game that saw the Lakers down 6 with just over a minute left. Same thing for the most recent 2 OT win against the Kings, the Lakers were down 7 with just over a minute to play. It's great that the Lakers keep finding ways to win, but statistically, it has been shown that close games are basically a coin flip, so the Lakers are going to suffer once their close game performance goes back to the mean.

While I don't necessarily buy into the coin flip aspect, it should be noted that the Lakers have more double digit losses than all of the other elite contenders. In fact, Boston, Orlando and Cleveland combined have only lost one more game by double digits than the Lakers have. So, if the coin flip stat has any truth to it, it should be extremely concerning to Lakers fans.

So what do you think? The fact is that the Lakers have only lost 6 games, so regardless of how they lose, as long as it occurs rarely, we don't have a whole lot to complain about. But do you think this is a concerning statistic, or just a unique circumstance?

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