Things are just different in Los Angeles.
Losing streaks are disastrous—ominous at best, season-ending at worst.
Winning streaks are equally magnified, as the Los Angeles Lakers' recent three-game mini-surge has shown.
Just two weeks ago this was a franchise in shambles. It had hired the wrong coach, assembled the wrong players and tasked those players with playing the type of basketball that they'd never succeed in.
But once L.A. rattled off three consecutive wins, handling a championship contender (the Oklahoma City Thunder), a playoff hopeful (the Utah Jazz) and a spoiler (the New Orleans Hornets) along the way, they reemerged as championship contenders.
The 10th-best (or sixth-worst for the cynics) record in the Western Conference (20-25) has somehow earned the Lakers the seventh-best position in the conference (and 12th-best in the NBA) on ESPN's Hollinger power rankings.
Their most recent effort, a back-breaking 92-86 loss to the Phoenix Suns (which included an early exit for Dwight Howard), will likely once again strike a death sentence in the court of public opinion.
With the talent on their roster, the optimism isn't hard to follow. But given their lethargic performance over the first half of the season, neither is the pessimistic viewpoint.
An unbiased look at the club shows at least long-shot playoff hopes, but only if the team can steer clear of these roadblocks.