What’s Behind The Lakers’ Run?

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Los Angeles Lakers are making a charge. They’ve won 13 of their last 18 games and are now just two games behind the Utah Jazz for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

But are the Lakers a much better team right now than they were six weeks ago? Not really.

A look at the numbers shows only minimal improvement from the Lakers’ first 42 games.

Lakers efficiency

Games W L OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
First 42 17 25 105.5 6 103.7 20 +1.7 11
Last 18 13 5 105.4 10 102.9 13 +2.5 11

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

So, the Lakers have been been a hair worse offensively over the last 18 games, and less than a point per 100 possessions better defensively. That’s not much of a difference. The real difference has been how they’ve performed in close games.

When you’re below .500 with a positive point differential, as the Lakers were after 42 games, you’re typically winning big and losing small. And through Jan. 23, the Lakers were 3-7 in games decided by five points or less. Since then, they’re 5-0.

The final margin of a game is kind of arbitrary, though. And if you look at games that were within five points in the last five minutes, the difference between the Lakers’ first 42 games and their last 18 is even bigger.

Lakers games within five points in the last five minutes

Games W L Clutch OffRtg Clutch DefRtg
First 42 5 16 99.3 117.6
Last 18 9 2 123.0 87.9

*Clutch OffRtg & DefRtg = for possessions in the last five minutes with a point differential of five or less

Though the Lakers’ defense hasn’t been that much better overall, it has been down the stretch of close games. And offensively, the shots are going in. In fact, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, Metta World Peace and Earl Clark have combined to shoot 31-for-49 (63 percent) from the field in clutch time since Jan. 25.

Lakers clutch shooting, last 18 games

Player FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3PT% FTM FTA FT%
Kobe Bryant 15 29 51.7% 0 1 .0% 21 22 95.5%
Steve Nash 8 10 80.0% 3 4 75.0% 2 5 40.0%
Antawn Jamison 4 4 100.0% 0 0 0 0
Metta World Peace 2 3 66.7% 1 2 50.0% 2 3 66.7%
Earl Clark 2 3 66.7% 0 1 .0% 2 4 50.0%
Pau Gasol 2 6 33.3% 0 0 2 2 100.0%
Jodie Meeks 1 3 33.3% 1 3 33.3% 0 0
Dwight Howard 0 1 .0% 0 0 1 2 50.0%
Total 34 59 57.6% 5 11 45.5% 30 38 78.9%

You can look at this in two ways. If the glass is half full, you can say that the Lakers were much better than their record when they were 17-25. If it’s half empty, you can say that this 13-5 stretch isn’t as impressive as it may seem. Furthermore, real quality wins have been few and far between. They’re just 3-16 against the eight teams with a winning percentage better than .600.

The last win over one of those teams was a 105-96 victory over the Thunder, who the Lakers visit on TNT at 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. They’re 0-9 on the road against teams above .600 thus far.

Still, overall, the Lakers have been a better team on both ends of the floor than the Jazz, the team they’re trying to catch.

When it comes to future schedule, the Lakers play slightly easier opponents, but the Jazz have one fewer road game (11 vs. 12) and one fewer back-to-back (3 vs. 4).

Stay tuned…

60 Comments

  1. KingJames says:

    Its would be funny if lakers dont make playoffs lol

  2. Vino Kulafu y Shuktong pamparegla ni kobe 24 says:

    oooppss that’s below .500 again…. lakers ain’t going nowhere… Oh maybe they can go FISHING…. They are now playing that Injury Card…. they never run out of excuses… If they win even for just a mere point… They are Alive and kicking… ready for the finals… when they loss… injury this coaching that, what’s next for the lakers???
    lakers making the 6th spot??? hey wake up…. lakers behind 2 games in wins against the JAZZ but you didn’t count the Loss counts… all in all… lakers should win 2 straight and the jazz to loss 3 games… to tie on 8 seed… But I doubt that they will loss 3 games… the lakers might win 8 games…but they can loss 13 also… kiss that playoffs hope goodbye….

  3. Lakers are overrated foreal at.500 lol

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Let’s not forget also: Lakers have won too many one-point games. Examples throughout the season: one-point win over Charlotte, one-point win over Detroit, one-point win over Atlanta.

      We all need to realize how inflated the Lakers’ record is — it could be much much worse. Overrated team. Can they keep relying on luck with their injury-prone players???????

      I love how Schuhmann refuses (apparently) to show the Lakers’ PPG and opponents’ PPG. Why? It shows how bad the Lakers REALLY are. First 42 games: Laker PPG-differential is more like 101-100. Last 18 games: more like 102-100. I think they showed it clearly in the Thunder-Laker game. Something like that. Does John Schuhmann actually watch NBA games to check out the REAL stats????????

      Schuhmann doing more magic tricks (to try to make his Lakers look good) with his per-100-possessions stat.

  4. Vino Kulafu y Shuktong pamparegla ni kobe 24 says:

    I heard a lot of excuses… kobe injured elbow? D12 shouldn’t play because he is hurt??? What happen to “I’m not afraid of OKC SPURS nuggets??? But kobe certainly afraid of the HEAT… now the OKC starting to pound them and then they have injuries… what a lame excuse… words from DWADE If he is playing he’s 100% no excuses, not believing in players injured on active list…

  5. Vino Kulafu y Shuktong pamparegla ni kobe 24 says:

    what’s behind the lakers’ run?
    1. Eternal Shame- They are now the most expensive mediocre team ever…
    2. They lowered their expectations to just crawling to make it to playoff spot. (They should battling on top place)
    3. Officials… lakers got advantage playing inside the court 8 vs 5..
    4. Easy schedule… But that run will stop again… starting with OKC ,Spurs,LAC…
    5. lakers will lose 12 more out of 22 games
    6. They won’t make it to playoffs… Laker fans will pray to their kobegod
    7. laker fans will CRY because lakers was a complete failure, then they’ll jump to bandwagon mode….
    8. Truth hurts, laker fans doesn’t know or didn’t admit that the laker ain’t going nowhere… because they are all DUMB….

  6. BIGMatta23 says:

    Wow. The glaring thing I see from the above stats – in the last 5 minutes of the 11 games that were ‘clutch’ , Dwight Howard has taken only 1 shot!!!!! Way to get your team mates involved.

  7. Mln08 says:

    No playoff in lakers this season!

  8. Ballin for life says:

    its so funny how everyone is insisting the lakers will be lucky to get the 8th spot before the end of April. Look at spots 6-8 in the west, there is a 1 game difference between the THREE teams. Lakers keep playing like this there is no doubt they will make the playoffs, they may get into the 6th or 7th seed as well. The remaining schedule for both the warriors and rockets are tough, plus they play each other two or three more times. I also have a funny feeling Utah is gonna fade here shortly, watch!…This will be very exciting

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I thought Golden State had a lot of home games toward the end.

      I thought I heard Houston had one of the easiest schedules left. I may be mistaken for another team. Hmm.

  9. NashFan10 says:

    Steve Nash has a great contention heart, so does KOBE and DWIGHT. the Lakers will be in the playoffs no matter what spot and they will beat all the otherplayoffs team to reach the finals. GO LAKERS! GO NASH!

  10. Lakers fan 2013 says:

    Wow I thought the Lakers would be lucky to get the 8th seed but now they might make the 6th seed.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Nope. Maybe if healthy. But they’re WAY too injured. Don’t be fooled. No playoffs for Lakers UNLESS the Jazz collapse big time. Even then, 8th seed AT BEST.

  11. Just make them play more time & not less (make Kobe Bryant play less & not more)

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I love how Dantoni (however you spell his last name) keeps playing Bryant HEAVY minutes — it’s taking its toll. Dantoni secretly likes to watch Bryant suffer????

  12. bobby says:

    Lakers r gonna get 8th or 7th spot and gunna win finals in honor of jerry buss

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Houston will make playoffs this season and probably next season and so on … in honor of Kevin McHale.

  13. Lakerland says:

    Tonight’s game with OKC will determine if LA will have a chance to make it to the playoffs.. So brace yourself laker fans.. Its gonna be a wild ride!!! GO KOBE!!!

    • Game Time says:

      The Lakers have been swept by the Clippers this season who have been swept by OKC. It really means nothing other than a glimmer of hope for fans.

      • Lakers fan 2013 says:

        Yeah but if the Lakers had all their player for all of those games it would not have been a sweep.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      SORRY! Lakers got CRUSHED by OKC. Determination: no playoffs for Lakers. I think Portland will get that 9th spot in the Western Conference (eventually).

      Sad thing: the refs were CLEARLY in favor of the Lakers in that game. STILL, Thunder easily won.

      Yah, try to make the 8th seed, Lakers!! Thunder will sweep you out easily, even if you cheat!! That would be kewl!

  14. big bang theory says:

    it’s going to be a tough race, all we know that every game counts, and not one regular season game will be meaningless. even for the top seeds, to see what seed they get and matchups. in playoffs sometimes people get the better matchup and win the games, they dont nessarily have to be the best team. Anything can happen, and we just have a good pot season ahead of us. =)

    • Game Time says:

      Really, not one game will be meaningless? A couple years ago when Lakers would drop key games you guys wrote them off as “just the regular season”. Now of course since the games matter more (to the Lakers) it becomes something of importance to all teams.

      • mytownla says:

        Smh here comes “gametime” again sounding dumb as always. You might of read his comment, but did you understand what he was saying, or is basketball proving to be a little too complicated to yiu once again. Since the Lakers are fighting for a playoff push, then ofcourse no game is going to be meaningless, whats wrong with that being said, when its a fact you idiot. Bro, you seriously need to change you daily hobby from commenting on Laker articles and find something else to occupy your midget size brain

  15. theholyspectator says:

    in the end they arent gonna make the finals so this season has already been a waste..that first round exit is not gonna be a surprise…

  16. LAKERSRULE says:

    The Lakers arent much better, but they are good enough to win. Winning is what we need.

  17. dattebayo says:

    What’s behind the Lakers run? The referees, what else? The 3 games against Portland, Dallas and Denver were called heavily in favor of the Lakers. 96 freethrow attempts in three games against 58 freethrow attempts for their opponents, Howard can goaltend twice a game and some obvious Laker fouls were put on opposing players.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I also noticed in the Thunder-Laker game: Howard should have been called for 3 seconds in the lane.

      Maybe more than once. But I noticed (I think in the 4th quarter of that game), Howard’s foot was CLEARLY in the paint for 3 seconds or more. Guess the refs missed that call.

  18. Noeone cares about the lakers :) :) :) :)

    • Mike dexter says:

      You care so little you came on THEIR article and wrote a comment you genius you!!

  19. Jim says:

    As the stats point out,the Lakers need some big wins on the road against big teams so tonight’s game will be quite important.

  20. LebronKingOfNba says:

    they are winning in clutch because kobe is not taking jumpers no more. he is learning from lebron to drive to the basket #facts

    the schedule of lakers up to now is way too easy compared to other teams #facts

    • KOBE24REALMVP says:

      OBVIOUSLY YOUVED WATCHED THE HEATS HARLEM SHAKE 1s TOO MANY XD

      • KOMANDIRA says:

        Kobe is learning from Lebron ?!?!?! IN THE CLUTCH ?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!?! Get lost junkie …

    • The Lake show says:

      Learning? Please, Queen James is the one who’s been learning from Kobe how to resemble a winner..and your name?? Wow climb off Queen James’s pee pee fool… Lol

  21. W/E says:

    we are all witnessing Kobe Bryants best season, Kobe is playing way better than his “prime period”, i guess this is it for him ppl its now or never for that 6th ring lets see what the lakers can do IF they make it to the playoffs and what Kobe is made of as the true and best player and leader of his team this time.

  22. NYLakers says:

    I just flat out hate Utah Jazz. They do NOT have a chance in the playoffs anyways. Remember last year against Spurs (top seed again)? Lakers have much better chance beating one of the top 4 seeds in the west. So give it up, Jazz. Even if the Lakers won’t make the playoffs, I wish some other team can replace Utah.

    • boon says:

      and people complain about “haters” when they point out pertinent facts

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Not really. If you watched Tuesday’s Laker-Thunder game, their entire roster appears on the verge of minor or major injuries.

      Lakers will be an easier out than the Jazz. But that’s just my opinion. At least the Jazz have some “upside” with Mo Williams coming back from the injured list.

      Don’t think Lakers can keep relying on luck with some of these one-points wins. Good luck. :-D

  23. Jerry Bus says:

    Why the h*** didn’t the Lakers pick up Aaron Brooks???? Don’t they need a decent back up point guard?

    • Chris says:

      Seriously. I like Blake, but Aaron Brooks is so much better. LAL missed a huge opportunity.

      • Tim NBA Fan says:

        You must not have seen Blake play recently. Brooks hasn’t played well in years. Blake is way better right now.

    • Nash fan says:

      because they’ve got Steve Blake back in action bro…

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      True. I noticed Houston got him back.

      Love how the Lakers refuse to “upgrade” or add any new personnel. Is that that new thing called “sarcasm?”

      Secret: Bryant has lots of “stroke.” Lakers’ arrogance and Bryant’s desire to ball-hug — no wonder the Lakers didn’t add someone like Aaron Brooks who could’ve helped them. Same reasons they didn’t go after someone like Barbosa during the offseason. Bryant wants to maximize his offense by hoping to be the focal point or the ONLY focal point — supreme ball-hug. Definition of ball-hug? Kobe Bryant. Steve Blake is more of a shooter than a point guard like Aaron Brooks.

      Love how Bryant took like 3-4 30-foot 3-point shots in Tuesday’s Thunder-Laker game (even though the shot clock apparently still had lots of seconds left). I love this game. ;-D

  24. Arun says:

    Lakers will be aiming for 6th spot and will play against Clippers in Round 1. Lakers will win the series 4-2. God Bless

    • nba says:

      I just hope they get to the 6th spot so they get swept by the clippers at Staples ! Lol

    • Here come the idiots says:

      Such a dumb statement. You think the Lakers will end up better than the 7th seed and think Clippers will drop past 3? Keep dreaming.

      • Isaaac says:

        he didn’t say the clippers would drop past three. three plays six in the first round, get it straight before you shoot off at the fingertips

      • mytownla says:

        Lmao @ here come the idiots, thanks for letting us know your here lol

    • Pakyaw says:

      6 spot?they re not even in the playoff picture yet..why? You’re scared that spurs or thunder sweep them off… Don’t deny!..don’t tell a lie…

  25. Cole says:

    More free throws than the opponent usually equals wins….

    • JJ says:

      well except that the Lakers seem to never make theirs..

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I’m not gonna bother checking the box score (cause I’ve been down this road before) but Tuesday’s Thunder-Laker game was kind of a joke.

      How many more FTA did the Lakers get???

      It was obvious to the naked eye, though. Bogus call on Perkins (resulting in him being subbed out immediately) at around the 4:00 minute mark of the first quarter. Howard went to post him up. THAT WAS IT! They called a foul on Perkins??? Love the way they didn’t show slow-motion replay of that “foul.” That was just one example. :-D

      I’m glad that the Thunder played “for real” this time. Although the officiating was clearly in the Laker favor (why? who knows?), the Thunder looked like they were “toying” with the Lakers the entire game. Thunder won easily. No contest.

      Guess Jay-Z wasn’t around this time. :-)

      I could tell the Thunder didn’t play for real in the previous Laker-Thunder matchup in LA. This game is what happens when the Thunder play FOR REAL. NO CONTEST. A subpar team like the Lakers have ZERO chance against an elite team like the Thunder.

      I am the truth from which you run.

  26. Francisco says:

    Vino,,,lol, coming from a black mamba HATER not a REAL KOBE HATER like me it is a good sign. I have to congratulate KOBE for playing BETTER than at his prime,, the guy is shooting over 47% something He could never do even at his prime.

    • Tim NBA Fan says:

      Kobe is in his prime right now…kind of like a career second wind. He is not just better than ever skill wise, he’s physically close to where he was 7+ years ago.

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        Disagree. Bryant looks tired all the time. Probably because he doesn’t do nearly enough cardiovascular exercise. He just lifts weights and does muscle-development.

        Trust me: I used to be in the US Army where we had to do A LOT of long-distance running. I can see how out-of-shape Bryant is.

        He’s nowhere near the physical shape he was in when he won 2 NBA Scoring Titles. Way past his prime. Way past.

        Evidence: Tuesday’s OKC-LAL game.

        Bryant was suffering from a myriad of minor injuries. He’s risking major injury by pushing himself too hard (recently) to score 30 PPG. Obviously, it’s not working for his overrated team.

      • trinh pham says:

        @Joshua Greenfarb, how out of shape Kobe is? even the strongest Kobe detractors or critics would never say he’s out of shape.

        Do you understand how many miles are on his body? He’s not your average 34-year-old, even going by NBA standards.

        I’m sure you have insight into his workout routine to declare that he doesn’t do nearly enough cardiovascular exercise, and he just lifts weights and does muscle-development. FYI, he has lost weight and muscle to try to regain some of the speed of his youth.

        The only obvious things are that you’re not a Laker fan and your lack of intelligence (please stick to long-distance running instead of offering NBA commentary).