Kobe Bryant promised that the Lakers would pick things up after the All Star break. Kobe Bryant was not kidding around. Prior to the break, the Lakers lost three games in a row – not quite the ruckus inducing streak the Heat are currently on, but still a troubling one. The Lakers seemed like a team that was not interested in the regular season. Turns out, they were just not interested in the first half of the season.
Since the break, the Lakers have beaten Atlanta by 14, Portland in overtime, the Clippers by 13, Oklahoma City by 3 in Oklahoma, Minnesota by 11, Charlotte by eight, San Antonio by 16 after being up 30 most of the game, and most recently Atlanta once more, and once more by 14 points. That’s eight quality wins in a row.
In all the games, except for the Oklahoma City game, Kobe Bryant was the high scorer. Similarly, in every game except for Oklahoma City, a Laker was the leading rebounder in the game. Bynum has posted three consecutive games of at least 16 rebounds.
Now the Lakers take this momentum into a tough stretch. Their next three games (over six days) will be against Miami, Dallas, and Orlando. While Miami is struggling, there is no sense that they are an easy win for anyone – as much as irrational haters would like to believe that this is the failure they have been waiting for, the Heat have still won 67% of their games. Only five teams have a better record. Dallas is only one game ahead of the Lakers, and a win at Miami followed by one at Dallas would potentially tie the teams in the standings. Since February began, the Mavericks have lost only two games. Orlando is just behind Miami in the Eastern Conference rankings, and as they have been for the past five seasons, they are a championship contender.
Once these three games are completed, there will be exactly one month of regular season games left. During that stretch, the Lakers will face mostly lesser teams, but will have to dance with San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Dallas once more prior to the start of the Playoffs.
It appears that the sleeping giant NBA fans have been waiting for has finally awoken.