L.A. Lakers Can’t Get Caught Up in Playoff Race Just Yet

Scoreboard watching is inevitable in a playoff race, but the L.A. Lakers would be best served by focusing on themselves for the time being. After all, they've got enough issues of their own to consider before they start worrying about how the teams immediately above them in the standings are faring.

With ongoing chemistry issues, a lack of depth and the doggedly persistent media circus that turns every soundbite into World War III, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have their hands full as it is.

But it sure is tempting to look at that ever-shrinking deficit in the Western Conference standings and start to get ideas about the postseason. And with Thursday night's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves cutting the Houston Rockets' hold on the eighth and final playoff spot to just two games over the Lakers, avoiding that temptation is only going to get harder.

For what it's worth, those other teams don't seem too concerned about what the Lakers are doing.

So it's best that the Lakers adopt the same disinterest and focus instead on working out their own issues.

For starters, coach Mike D'Antoni needs to figure out whether he's ever going to pick a style and stick with it. Since tossing out the Princeton offense with Mike Brown, the Lakers have kicked around a seemingly endless parade of trial-and-error offenses.

D'Antoni was supposed to implement his pet system, but thanks to a lack of patience and the wrong personnel to begin with, the Lakers aren't running anything that resembles a run-and-gun, point guard-dominant offense.

Instead, Kobe Bryant alternately runs things by scoring or setting up teammates, depending on how the mood strikes him on a given night. That tactic has somehow led to recent success, as the Lakers have won 11 of their past 16 games, but it's still a little too dependent on one player to be a viable strategy for the long term.

If D'Antoni can find...

About the Author