Los Angeles Lakers: Are They Playing Their Best Basketball of the Season?

Dorian McLean@Quartz87Contributor IIIMarch 3, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots a jumper between Paul Gasol #16 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers as Tim Duncan #21 heads to the basket at Staples Center on February 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Lakers have outscored their opponents 498 to 442 in the last five games, averaging 99.6 points per night compared to their opponents 88.4, an 11.2 point differential. Not bad for a team that many have questioned right up to the All-Star break.

That's right, even if for a moment, it appears the two-time defending champions are going on a roll and making a run for the top spot in the Western division.

They have since taken down the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves, giving them a 5-0 record since the All-Star break.

Ron Artest had arguably his best game of the year since Game Seven of the NBA Finals last season. When facing the Portland Trail Blazers he netted 24 points after shooting eight of thirteen and making five of six three pointers. Kobe Bryant matched his All-Star point collection that night as well with 37.

Andrew Bynum has played solid both offensively and defensively, averaging 9.4 boards through five nights, much better than his 6.8 career and 7.7 season averages. The same can be said about his points-per-game, averaging 11.4 in five games to match his average on the season.

If there is one weak spot on this stacked roster it's their bench depth. However, the return of Matt Barnes shortly and the continued rise of Steve Blake should be able to assist both Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown in that department.

It appears that right now, everything is going right in Los Angeles and that should be cooling down some of the hot critics who may have felt the team had struggled and looks weak heading towards the postseason.

The rest of the schedule may in fact be a blessing for the Lakers, as they have 20 games remaining, with the last 11 of 15 being held at the Staples Center.

We all remember the seven-game road trip leading up to the All-Star break, where the Lakers started off hot, winning four straight. However they would falter and finish with a weak 4-3 record, including an embarrassing loss to Cleveland, considered the weakest team in the league.

Now, they have a strong test heading into next week, starting with another match against the Charlotte Bobcats. Last time these two teams met, the Bobcats pounded the Lakers on all fronts, finishing with a 20 point victory. The Lakers are at home and will look for payback.

Then they face the Spurs, Hawks, Heat and Mavs all in one week, before returning home for a seven-game home stretch. This is where I feel the Lakers will need to be on their A game.

Two potential postseason match-ups are being previewed with the Spurs and Mavs and the Lakers want nothing more than to put up now, and show who really should lead the West.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.