The Los Angeles Lakers were certainly within reach of snatching a victory away from the New York Knicks Sunday night, as D’Angelo Russell tried to will his team to a win with 33 points on an efficient 13 of 19 from the field. Anthony Davis put up a 17-point, 16-rebound double-double, but it wasn’t enough to match the Knicks’ offensive firepower, which included RJ Barrett and Julius Randle combining for 63 points.
In the end, New York pulled out a 112-108 win on the second night of a back-to-back to snap a three-game losing streak. The win pulls the Knicks even with the Brooklyn Nets in the win column for the No. 5 spot in the East, but for the Lakers, the loss is a costly one.
The Lakers’ loss slid them back down to the No. 11 spot in the Western Conference, a grim reality of how quickly things can go south for teams out West these days. Technically, the Lakers are in a four-way tie for the No. 9 spot, which is where they entered the evening before the loss to the Knicks. But due to the league’s tie-breaking rules, which take into account things like division records and head-to-head matchups, among other things, L.A. sits behind the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A win would’ve pulled the Lakers even with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks for the No. 7 spot. However, on a night where Davis performed, in his words, “terrible,” the Lakers find themselves again on shaky ground as it tries to secure a postseason spot.
But in a Western Conference where L.A. is just two games back of the No. 6-seeded Golden State Warriors, having a short memory after losses like Sunday night is important. While the loss digs the Lakers into a bit of a hole, their next matchup on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans will play a key role in how the standings shake out at the end of the season. L.A. currently leads the season series 2-1 against New Orleans, and a win on Tuesday would clinch the tiebreaker for the Lakers. That will be useful if those two teams end up with the same record and fight for one of the last play-in spots.
In fact, several of L.A.’s remaining games will have huge implications on the standings. Following that Pelicans game, the Lakers will take on the Mavericks three days later, who are just one game ahead of them in the West. Other matchups against the Thunder, Timberwolves, and Jazz (twice) will directly impact where the Lakers land.
Although the loss on Sunday is a tough pill to swallow, especially since the Lakers were within two points with 20 seconds left in the game, plenty of games are left on the schedule to make up ground. It won’t be easy, especially with LeBron James still sidelined, but L.A. has already pulled out impressive wins in James’ absence. If the Lakers manage to string some wins together down the stretch, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them with one of the higher spots in the play-in, or maybe even avoid it altogether and nab that No. 6 spot.
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Publish Date:2023-03-13 12:53:23