Despite Struggles the Lakers Are Still Looking Down on Dallas and Denver

It's funny how perception can sometimes differ from reality, and after recently glancing at the NBA's Western Conference Standings, the struggles by the front-running Los Angeles Lakers may have been wildly misconstrued.

Debate has been lively concerning the Lakers since they endured a rough stretch, in which they lost three consecutive games for the first time in almost two years.

The Lakers' slide corresponded with a surge by the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets and it changed the perception of the conference race.

Whispers began to emerge that perhaps the dominance of Los Angeles was nearing its end, and maybe a confident Nuggets' team or a re-tooled Mavericks' team could end the Lakers' two year reign atop the conference.

A 13 game winning streak by Dallas and a six game winning streak by Denver added fuel to the rumors of the Lakers' demise, but the last week has shown us the predictions of ruin were over-blown.

After a combined 19 game win streak, the Nuggets and Mavericks were able to carve only a single game off of the Lakers' conference lead, and in Dallas' case a 32 point loss to the New York Knicks raises some interesting questions of their own.

For one, what type of true championship contender loses a home game at this point of the season, by such a large margin, to a team which has absolutely nothing left to play for?

I understand futility breeds desperation and teams under those circumstances can be dangerous, so a loss is understandable, if not acceptable.

But to lose by 32 points at home? That is not the mark of a true contender and despite recent roster upgrades Dallas may still exist in the shadow of their playoff failures of 2006-2007.

Choking in the Finals of 2006, and the Mavericks subsequent defeat the next year in the first round of the playoffs as the number one seed has left a discernible mark on the franchise.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers