The Los Angeles Lakers are at the bottom of the Western Conference. Fans can now officially change their standings filter from "Conference" to "League" as the journey to the 2014 NBA Draft reaches it's pivotal final stretch. The team has little time to recover after a blowout to the league-best Indiana Pacers with a game in Memphis against the Grizzlies tonight.
There was plenty of discord after the worst team in the West lost to the best team in the NBA. Pau Gasol voiced his displeasure over the lack of authority and discipline within the team, a not-so-veiled jab at his belief head coach Mike D'Antoni isn't managing the roster. These things happen, and as we know, winning is the greatest antidote to poisonous circumstances.
The fact that the team has kept things together as long as they have despite loss after loss, 10-day contracts and injuries is fairly miraculous. This uncertain season has come full circle, and it can all be traced back to a trip to Memphis last December.
Could the Lakers compete with this plug-and-play roster? The big question was when, and how, Kobe Bryant's season would play out. On the sixth game of his return effort he fractured his knee and it's been a downward spiral ever since. The team has fallen from being an exciting, competitive team that -- if nothing else -- could put on an exciting effort. Now, they're an internally strugglng, externally losing team that's biggest question is "who will they draft in the top-four."
Los Angeles has nothing to lose by losing. The Grizzlies need wins. Memphis is currently 1.5 games out of the no. 8 seed, trailing the Phoenix Suns. They've dealt with injuries through the season -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen both missed extensive time -- but are still in position to land in the postseason if they can get back on their feet during the final quarter of the season.
A back-to-back against a team that needs to take advantage of their winnable games. The best outcome is a fun duel between Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol for the Lakers. 5 p.m. PT tip-off, so sneak out of work early to catch the start. Or don't.
But since I have you, let's take a quick peak at the standings.
Milwaukee is likely un-catchable at this point, on a date with destiny to have the best lottery odds in a few months. The other teams are all a tight-knit bunch, with a few extra wins likely being able to swing the ping-pong extravaganza.
The "big game" to keep an eye on is Philadelphia vs. Orlando tonight. Philly is 3.5 games lower than the Lakers, while the Magic are just 2.5 games. Both are within reach and someone is going to tack on a win tonight no matter what. Boston is visiting Atlanta as well, while the Jazz are hosting the Suns.
Suffice to say, these are the standings that should be on Lakers fans minds for the rest of this 82-game chamber of horror. This and prospect rankings, that is.