It was the best of times and the worst of times for the Lakers on Sunday. After experiencing the high of a surprise return from LeBron James, the team came out flat against the Bulls and dropped the first of a pair of consecutive contests against Chicago.
The return trip on Wednesday kicks off a five-game road trip for the Lakers that is going to go very far in determining their postseason fate. Before that contest, a lot is going to change in the Western Conference play-in race around them with the extended time off.
Games to Watch
Mavericks at Pacers - No one has had a pair of losses worse than the Mavericks losing back-to-back games against the Hornets. Now, they play the Pacers without Luka Doncic as he’s suspended after picking up his 16th technical.
Suns at Jazz - Utah remains only a loss or two away at this point from falling out of the playoff race. Phoenix, though, has lost six of its last eight games and are plummeting.
Pelicans at Trail Blazers - Portland nearly gave the Lakers a lot of help against Oklahoma City on Sunday. Any win from them at this point feels like a gift, but it would be a very welcome one if they knocked off New Orleans.
Timberwolves at Kings - Draymond Green and Jordan Poole tossed away the game against the Timberwolves on Sunday, allowing Minnesota to move a full game ahead of the Lakers. Sacramento lighting the beam would be very helpful.
Bulls at Clippers - Surely, after an incredible display of shot-making against the Lakers, Chicago will replicate that performance against the Clippers, right?
Hornets at Thunder - It would be greedy to ask Charlotte for any more help than what they’ve given, but it would be quite appreciated if they did take down OKC.
Pelicans at Warriors - New Orleans losing is probably the rooting interest at this point. While the Lakers figure to be in the play-in race with both teams, they have the tiebreaker on New Orleans and need to move in front of them.
Mavericks at Sixers - Philadelphia returns home to take on Dallas, who truly does not look like a team that enjoys playing basketball right now. I hope Rob Pelinka is watching what Kyrie Irving has done to that team.
Clippers at Grizzlies - With Paul George out and Kawhi Leonard banged up, things are falling on Russell Westbrook’s shoulders more and more and I, for one, can’t wait for those results.
Pistons at Thunder - Boy, OKC sure does have a soft schedule to start this week. If some tanking teams want to pull off some improbable wins, that’d be nice.
Jazz at Spurs - If things fall the wrong way for Utah, this could be a must-win game and San Antonio is a good team to play in that situation.
Timberwolves at Suns - If the Thunder have an easy schedule, Minnesota has quite the opposite. They could really take control of things in the playoff race with some key wins, but nobody has been able to string together wins this season at the bottom of the playoff race.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.