Can Lakers Or Mavs Take No. 8 In West?

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — First off, a surge to get into playoff position by either the Los Angeles Lakers or Dallas Mavericks must be accompanied by some cliff jumping from the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets and/or Portland Trail Blazers.

But is that so unimaginable? Seventh-place Utah (28-24) has lost two straight, is still without Mo Williams, all while Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap’s names are being bandied about in trade rumors. Eighth-place Houston (28-25) blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead at Sacramento on Sunday and, despite its offensive prowess led by first-time All-Star James Harden, allows the most points per game among the West’s top 12 teams.

And ninth-place Portland (25-26), playing with a rookie point guard — albeit Rookie of the Year frontrunner Damian Lillard — a 6-foot-9 center in J.J. Hickson and basically no bench, has hit the skids recently to fall below .500.

So the window is cracked for the Lakers (24-28), who still sit 3 1/2 games behind Houston despite winning seven of their last 10, as well as for the Mavs (22-28), who have won two in a row to creep within 4 1/2 games of the eighth spot.

So which team is better positioned to make a run?

From a sheer talent standpoint, how could anyone pick against the Lakers’ star-power: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol (when he returns). Gosh, why not just have the Hall-of-Fame induction during the Lakers’ critical four-game homestand that starts Tuesday against Phoenix?

But if it’s all about talent, then the Lakers would be challenging Oklahoma City and San Antonio for West supremacy and not praying for Utah, Houston and Portland to crater.

From a cohesion standpoint, how could anyone in their right mind pick the Lakers’ gaggle of ill-fitting stars? Gasol is out six to eight weeks and the awkwardness between Kobe, Dwight and coach Mike D’Antoni grows more baffling by the day. Even Dwight’s dad recently inserted himself into the daily drama. Then there’s Nash not really playing point guard anymore and a bench that provides little relief. To be this disjointed this late in the season wouldn’t seem to bode well.

Now, these Mavs, oh boy are they united. They recently decided to grow unity beards that they’ll let fly until the team reaches .500, a mark they haven’t sniffed since being 11-11 on Dec. 12. This is typically a gimmick done by desperate teams, which is exactly what the Mavs are at this point. So, at the risk of some itchy necks, at least Dallas’ players are pulling in the same direction and believe in the guidance of coach Rick Carlisle. They’re off to a 2-0 start on their five-game homestand (and seven of eight at home) with Atlanta coming up tonight (8:30 ET, League Pass).

Dirk Nowitzki still isn’t back to his accustomed level, averaging just 14.7 ppg on 40.7 percent shooting, so there’s always the prospect of bigger things to come from Dirk. O.J. Mayo and veterans Vince Carter and Shawn Marion have provided scoring boosts and point guard Darren Collison has put together a solid month. When they keep turnovers down and don’t get killed on the glass, particularly on the defensive end, Dallas has proven it can challenge  top teams, such as twice taking OKC to overtime and nearly upsetting the Heat in Miami.

The Mavs are 1-8 in overtime games and 2-6 in games decided by three points or less. Many of those losses came with Dirk out recuperating from Oct. 19 arthroscopic surgery on his right knee that forced him out of the first 27 games. They believe if they can pull out more of those close games in their final 32, they’ll be in position to snag a playoff spot.

A significant swing game arrives on Feb. 24 when the Lakers visit the Mavs (1 p.m. ET, ABC). They’ll meet again in L.A. on April 2.

So which team has the easier road ahead (which is probably poor wording since nothing has come easy for either team)?

Teams Games Home (record) Road (record) Games vs. current playoff teams Winning percentage of opponents Record vs. .500+ teams
No. 10 Lakers (24-28) 30 16 (15-10) 14 (9-18) 15 .496 12-20
No. 11 Mavericks (22-28) 32 18 (14-9) 14 (8-19) 19 .506 10-21

Lakers’ toughest stretch: Feb. 14 – March 5 (8 games: vs. Clippers, vs. Boston, vs. Portland, at Dallas, at Denver, vs. Minnesota, vs. Atlanta, at Oklahoma City); Close second: April 2-17 (8 games: vs. Dallas, vs. Memphis, at Clippers, vs. New Orleans, at Portland, vs. Golden State, vs. San Antonio, vs. Houston)

Mavs’ toughest stretch: Feb. 27 – March 14 (8 games: at Memphis, at Brooklyn, at Houston, vs. Houston, at Detroit, at Minnesota, at Milwaukee, at San Antonio); Close second: March 17-30 (8 games: vs. Oklahoma City, at Atlanta, vs. Brooklyn, vs. Boston, vs. Utah, vs. Clippers, vs. Indiana, vs. Chicago)


  1. Stu Brew says:

    This isn’t the Lakers and Mavs’ year they’ll regroup in the offseason and be back next season.

  2. BJ says:

    Lakers dont have a chance. Hang it up for this season. Get rid of Howard and Nash, Kobe and Gasol should retire with some self respect. the organization should start scouting for young talent and start looking at the 3-5 year plan for another run at a championship. there are too many good teams right now that got a shot at it and the Lakers won’t beat them.

  3. theholyspectator says:

    even if they manage to make the playoffs they not pullin out the west? kobe said lakernation you either win a championship or fail..guess what they gonna fail…dont matter who they face in the first round, theyll get crushed…its a lose lose situation for lakers…oh well..the idea was nice

  4. W/E says:

    Dallas has no chance get over it, they gotta rebuild for next season cause theres no playoffs this year, as for Lakers chances are very slim cause Houston and Jazz are good enough to keep the above 500 record until season ends, Lakers are very inconsistent and they struggle on the road so they are what their record says, an inconsistent team with a losing record, even if they reach the playoffs with a coach like D’antoni they are doomed there, they cant play as he wants and his strategy is no good for slow tempo playoff games so if i was D’antoni id wish Lakers would not make it to the playoffs cause hes gunna be so exposed there…

  5. Melomvp says:

    The only chance i see for mavs and lakers to get in the playoff is, if houston,portland and utah will loose half of the remaining games they had this season lets say 30-32 games and if both Mavs and LAkers won most of the remaining games they have

    Houston, POrtland , Utah will getting this win loose game 12-15 of the last 30-32 games…
    Mavs, Lakers will have 18-22 wins out of 30-32 games they might have the chance..

    but still impossible for those 3 teams to loose that much and for the last to team to win more than that maybe they can winn more than that but loosing half of the remaining game is still impossible for the houston, portland and utah

  6. El Undelador says:

    It would be funny to see the Lakers match up with the Clips in the 1st round, then get swept!


    There’s no way that will happen.In order for Lakers OR Mavericks to make the playoffs, two of UTA, HOU, and POR would have to collapse. If HOU doesn’t hit another slump, they will make the playoffs for sure. Utah could slip if they deal Jefferson, but they could also surge if they land a star or pull a Boston-without-Rondo trick. Portland is right now the weak link, and they are not likely to shake up the roster at the deadline. However, the Blazers are an impressive 13-13 against +.500 teams. If they can improve their frustrating 12-13 mark against -.500 teams, while keeping their even pace against the good teams, Portland WILL make the playoffs. All three of these teams will fight for the last two spots, leaving no room for Mavs and Lakers.

    But if the Warriors keep slipping, this could be a completely different conversation…

  7. Gcaldor says:

    Definitely Lakers!!!

  8. Save Nash Please says:

    Lakers are done for this season, their only chance is to save as much $ as they could. regardless on what they do, they won’t reach playoffs. too late for a run now, lakers will do more harm than winning games from their rosters. Because every game they play is like a life or death situation for them. And they need to play 100% out of their players bench included. With No extra bigs on bench to support Howard, and Howard by the way ain’t 100% healthy too. Nash game affected too much by kobe’s play making wanna be. In short, no bench, lacking in size, no chemistry, no coach, NO BUELO…. NO CHANCE… on the other hand MAVS are now playing more like a team… even though the mavs are in 11th spot they got the same count of loss with the lakers… The lakers just ahead of them by 2 games. if the Mavs won 3 straight game they’ll be on the 10 spot.. like Vince is doing after a dunk… BROOOM BROOOOM!!!!

  9. ko0kiE says:

    I think it will make zero difference if they will get this 8th spot or not.. The Spurs or OKC will crush them..

  10. dredd5150 says:

    Problem #1 – Kobe isn’t going anywhere SO… D12 is going to get traded. If the Lakers won’t trade D12, he’s gone at the end of his contract and that is a fact.
    Problem #2 – D’Antoni doesn’t like Pau for some strange reason. So, since coach is locked up for three more years and LA-LA still has to pay Mike Brown… the Lakers are going to trade Pau.

    If the Lakers want to make the playoffs… these two trades need to happen. Because the pieces they need to run D’Antoni’s offense will come from these two crucial trades.

    OR, the Lakers will suddenly trade Kobe… which is close to impossible. If this happens, the Lakers will have a shot at keeping D12 at the end of his contract. I seriously doubt it… but there will be a small chance that he’ll stay.

  11. NBA-Hoops says:

    Lakers are not making the playoffs, if they do there gunna be knocked out by either spurs or thunder.

  12. big cat says:

    I say the lakers get 7th and the mavs squeeze in 8th by the skin of there teeth, making two very intriguing first round matchups with lakers against OKC and the texas two step with dallas at san Antonio . expect some upsets people… nobody wants to see the mavs or the lakers in the 1st round with there experience and championship pedigree , watd you expect they were just gonna lay down and die ….

    • LA Dwight says:

      just like some LA fans expect their opponents to lay down and die just because they put together a bunch of superstars and declared to win it all before the season ever started?

  13. Eaglos says:

    Does it really matter which of the two would get eliminated from round one?
    I want that team to be the Lakers so as to speed up whatever has been boiling
    all season long.

    Can we now talk about the rest of the teams?

  14. rondo says:

    I have a weird feeling that the Lakers are going to make the playoffs even with all their injuries.

  15. dattebayo says:

    Like Charles said, the Lakers chances to make the playoffs are minus 17.

  16. Chris says:

    I’m a lakers fan but Im also a realist. Lately theyve played with more heart aside from pretty much giving the win to Miami with stupid turn overs but they can win every game now and it won’t matter if Utah or Houston don’t implode. Houston has pretty much figured out its identity recently and looks somewhat comfortable in that 8th seed. They’ll lose a few but they’re still fat ahead enough for the Lakers to have to be perfect and even then it’s a stretch considering there’s Portland to worry about above them. I never wouldve imagined the Lakers OR mavericks sitting out of the playoffs this season. Never believed Lakers would compete for the championship his season either, chemistry takes tile to developed

  17. Nash fan says:

    it’s going to come down on how much the LAKERS want it! All about heart! still believe in Nash and co.

  18. I don't want to see the Lakers in the Playoffs!! says:

    I would rather see Harden and Lin play as the 8th seed, or even Lillard and Portland.

    The Lakers have won enough over the years, and they’re getting too much media attention as is. Denver didn’t get any

    credit until they almost won 10 in a row. You NBA journalists were ready to throw IGGY under the bus, while ignoring

    how bad the 76ers have been without him. And Utah is still invisible in 7th place.

    So no, No more Lakers. Let Kobe sit this one out, and reevaluate his game over the summer. Maybe he can figure

    out how to be a better teammate, and stop publicly bashing his teammates that want to touch the ball too.

  19. Swish41 says:

    Mavs take 8th or higher easily. Were not trading away core pieces and u guys forget that one of the best players in the league missed our 1st 30 games. And the fact we added 9 new players. Mavs are hitting thier stride just in time. 41/2 games behind is nothing too make up for with over 30 remaining. Mavs make playoffs for 13th str8 season. Heard it here 1st

    • Mytownla says:

      Lmao typical Mavs fan… thats cute tho, knowing that Dallas HAS NO CHANCE, you are still desperately trying to force yourself to believe that Dirk is still a top player in this league, and that your precious Mavs will make the playoffs. Tell that flamer boy Mark Cuban to sit down and stfu jus like the rest of those heat bandwagoner fans

  20. krespino says:

    Lakers would get the eigth spot, in front of Houston and Portland.
    It should not be a problem for the Lakers to win 19 or 20 games from the remaining 32, and it would give them the playoffs.
    Portland has almost no chance, and roster weaknesses in Houston are likely to be evident in the last quarter of the season.

  21. defdun says:

    I bvelieve the lakers will make the 8th spot… and then watch out for the the first round matchup against OKC or the Spurs or maybe even the in-house Clippers…! Bet you that after a successful run for the eigth seed their first round opponent will be shivering…

    OK, I was just dreaming…
    However they will start a run, and its up to UTA/HOU/POR to withstand it – but I just can’t imagine that all three will crumble!

    As for Dallas, although they are finally geling Cuban will have traded core parts away by 21.Feb, so I can’t see them rise higher than .500 which just isn’t enough for a playoff spot in the West. Pity to see such a great team fall apart the way they did. I wonder if its ever happened before that a champion misses the .500 mark / the playoffs two seasons later?

    • dattebayo says:

      You gotta be kidding me. The Bulls won the title in 1998 and then Jordan, Pippen and Jackson left. The next year the Bulls went 13-37 in the regular season and missed the playoffs. How old are you to not know that?

  22. theking0522 says:

    It is going to come down to the schedule. Whoever has the easiest schedule at the end of the year wins.

    • Chris says:

      nah, considering Miami has had games against some of the easiest teams in the league and has either lost (wizards without wall or Nene) and barely managed to win (Cleveland) there’s no guarantee an “easy” schedule will work out for the Lakers or mavs