Our focus at thePeachBasket has always been and will always be basketball. So, this article will be about basketball in Los Angeles, I promise. But, I can’t talk about last week in Los Angeles without calling out the fact that it snowed in LA! I get that doesn’t mean much to our friends used to the white powder, but it was a big deal here. In fact, one meteorologist called it a “…once-in-a-generation” event. So ya, that happened!
Maybe it was just too cold to play good basketball?
Los Angeles Lakers
We will start with the team that fared better while LA froze. The Lakers finished the week at 2-2 with wins at Dallas and Oklahoma City. The Lakers reshuffled at the trade deadline and have gotten better. The problem for the purple and gold is health. While Los Angelinos were making snow angels the Lakers were playing games without LeBron James, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis. While Davis has returned, Russell and James remain sidelined.
Russell may return soon but that does not appear to be the case for James. All we know is he has been diagnosed with a tendon injury in his right foot and will be reevaluated in three weeks. The problem for the Lakers is that the season ends in five weeks. The Lakers are no doubt better with James, but since he became the NBA’s all time leading scorer he hasn’t been the same player. In the nine games leading up to his record breaking game James was averaging 32.9 pts/9rbs/9ast on 52% shooting and 38% from three-point range. He was also averaging 37 mins a game while only missing one game
In the nine games since he broke the record James is averaging 20ppg/5.6rbs/7.6ast on 39.5%shooting and 16.7% from three-point range. He was playing 30 mins a game and missed six of those nine games. He was clearly hurting and his numbers showed it. The big question for the Lakers now is can they make an end of season push to make the play-in and playoffs without him?
In other words, is Anthony Davis ready to step up?
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers had a bad week. It was so bad that to call it just “bad” is a bit laughable. It was horrible, borderline cataclysmic and it may have sealed the fate of the franchise this season. The Clippers have been the better professional basketball team in LA for a decade. They have more wins than the Lakers over that time, more wins against the Lakers and finished better than the Lakers on average. The Lakers however have a Finals championship over that time and the Clippers just have the promise of greatness.
They started the week at the #4 spot in the Western Conference with an eye on moving up. Like the Lakers, the Clippers retooled and got better at the trade deadline. As luck would have it, the improved and hot Clippers had a game against the team directly above them, the Sacramento Kings. The game was in LA and it was a great opportunity for the Clippers to continue to trend upwards. They lost that game 176-175 in double overtime. Looking back, that game may have cost the Clippers more than just a game in the standings, it may have crushed their collective soul!
They went on to lose their next four games and dropped all the way to the 8th spot in the West. Unlike the Lakers, the Clippers are mostly healthy, they are just bad all of a sudden. In what is an NBA oddity, this team got better during the trade deadline but cannot win a game. Yes, they got better and worse! Leave it to the Clippers to do the impossible.
Nothing solves an NBA problem quite like a winning streak. The Clippers have 16 games left with 11 at home. They have not been great at home, but it has to help to be around friendly faces. If this team can win the majority of their remaining games they will likely be OK. They have to hope that they can mirror Los Angeles weather though and warm up. Otherwise, they are facing a collapse for the ages.