Kobe and the Lakers should make a run for a playoff spot
At this point in the season, many NBA teams are where they were expected to be. The Miami Heat are atop the East, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are leading the West and the Charlotte Bobcats have the worst record in the league.
The season has not yet hit All-Star weekend, however, and there are some teams who could rally after the break. Here are some squads that should turn up their intensity and improve their standing in the second half of the season.
Look for Dwight and the Lakers to pull it together in the coming months.
After some big offseason moves, the Lakers were expected to dominate the Western Conference this season. But after 49 games, they are only 23-26.
Injuries, coaching changes and superstars struggling to play together are some things that have plagued the Lakers this season. Recently, though, they have won six of their last seven games and seem to be pulling it together.
Expect the Lakers to jell after the All-Star break. At only four games behind the eighth-seeded Houston Rockets, they should make the playoffs and perhaps make a deep run.
Evan Turner and the 76ers could make the playoffs with a strong second half.
In the Eastern Conference, eight teams are over .500 while the other eight are below .500. The Philadelphia 76ers, the ninth-seeded team, have a record of 21-27 and are perhaps the only below-.500 team with a chance to secure a playoff spot.
Andrew Bynum, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner should only get better as the season progresses. Expect the chemistry of the 76ers to improve and look for them to possible obtain a lower playoff seed.
James Harden should lead the Rockets to a better second half of the season.
As of February 6, the Rockets are the eighth-seeded team in the West. This spot, however, is far from secure as both Portland and Los Angeles are right on their heels.
With James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets got off to a great start. If not for a seven-game losing streak in January, Houston would likely be at a much better position in the standings.
Don't expect the Rockets to go on another long losing streak in the second half of the season. Look for Houston to establish itself as a dominant team in the West and secure a higher playoff seed
Getting Rose back will make the Bulls even better.
Even without superstar point guard Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls have managed to compile a 29-19 record 48 games into the season. They are sitting comfortably in the fourth seed in the East, but with Rose returning soon they could jump even higher in the standings.
Expect the Bulls to make a run at the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat will likely maintain the top spot, but look for New York or Indiana to slow down a bit and for Rose and the Bulls to surpass them with a strong second half.
Steph Curry and the Warriors will likely improve in the second half and hit the playoffs on a high note.
The Golden State Warriors are always a solid team in the West led by a high-powered offense. The challenge for them has been trying to overcome teams like the Thunder and Spurs.
With Andrew Bogut coming back from an ankle injury, the Warriors boast an impressive frontcourt to complement their high-scoring guards. Look for the Warriors to really pick up the pace in the second half and perhaps oust one of the traditional power teams in the Western Conference.